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COSHH

COSHH stands for the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health and includes many chemicals, fumes, dusts and biological agents. Under the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations there is a requirement for employers to control the exposure to these substances in order to prevent ill health in employees and others who may be exposed.

 

The effects of exposure to these to these substances can range from minor skin irritations to eye injuries, lung diseases, cancers and even death. A failure to control exposure can lead to employers facing enforcement action, loss of business and civil claims.

 

COSHH Assessments

The Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations specify what substances must be controlled. Suppliers of these substances must provide a safety data sheet for the substance which specifies the hazards and suggested precautionary measures. These should be referred to when carrying out an assessment under these regulations.

 

There are several steps that must be taken when carrying out an assessment under these regulations.

 

Step 1 - Assess the risks:

Identify the hazardous substances and the risks that they present. Consider how the chemical is used and by whom. This will allow you to determine how people could be exposed to harm (e.g. inhalation, ingestion, skin contact)

 

Step 2 - Decide what precautions are needed:

Precautions should be considered in the following order and the highest possible on the list adopted.

1.            Substituting the substance with a less harmful one

2.            Change the process (e.g. eliminate the release of fume)

3.            Use a safer form of the substance (e.g. pellets not powder)

4.            Enclose the process

5.            Provide specific or general ventilation

6.            Provide Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) as a last resort (e.g. gloves, masks, goggles)

 

Step 3 - Prevent or control exposure:

It may be necessary to measure the concentration of substances in the air from time to time to ensure that employees are not exposed to unacceptable levels of hazardous substances.

 

Step 4 - Ensure that controls are used and maintained: 

Measuring the concentration of substances in the air may also show whether the control measures are working properly.

 

Step 5 - Monitor employee exposure: 

It may be necessary to monitor individual employees exposure to certain substances.

 

Step 6 - Carry out Health Surveillance:

This is required where employees are working with certain substances and full details are provided in the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations.

 

Step 7 - Inform and train employees:

You must ensure that employees understand the risks associated with the substances used, use the control measures and report any concerns or faults.

 

Further information regarding COSHH can be found on the HSE website and the COSHH Essentials website

 

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