P601 – Competence in LEV testing

I received the following query a few days ago:

A large part of my working life during the last 14 years has been involved with the Thorough Examination and Test of Local Exhaust Ventilation (LEV) systems within the company I work for.

I have now moved on within the same company to a health and safety position, but over the last two years, I have been training another person to carry out the LEV testing under my direct supervision. This person I feel is now capable of carrying out the full inspection and tests on his own.

Being qualified myself to the BOHS P601 standard, can I signs off the reports done by my trainee as being correct (if I feel they are done to a satisfactory standard) or does he need to prove he is competent himself by attending a formal course such as the P601.

This was my answer:

“COSHH requires that anyone carrying out any work required by the Regulations must be competent. This applies to the testing of LEV systems.

Passing P601 is a way of demonstrating competence to test LEV systems to an employer, client or the regulatory authorities. HSE strongly encourage those testing LEV systems to have passed P601, but it is not a legal requirement as such (although I do know of one situation where an Inspector placed an Improvement Notice on a company that required their personnel to take P601).

If you are certain that your colleague is competent and you could demonstrate this by some means if challenged (particularly by the HSE) then, it is probably not necessary for him to have taken the course.  It is more important for consultancy/testing companies who provide a service to ensure their staff have the qualification as a means of reassuring the client that they know what they are doing. There are lots of companies offering LEV testing and not all of them are competent.

So, you need to make your own decision based on how confident you are that you can satisfy the HSE that your colleague is competent.

Of course, the above is only my personal opinion. A HSE Inspector could have a different view!”

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