When was the last time you updated your COSHH Risk Assessments?
The Control of Substances Hazardous to Health (COSHH) Regulations 2002 was introduced to protect thousands of employees who are exposed to hazardous substances causing them to become ill on an annual basis. The regulations were implemented to ensure that businesses protect their employees from substances that are hazardous to health.
Hazardous substances are found in nearly all work environments and include:
- Substances used directly in work activities (e.g. adhesives, paints, cleaning agents);
- Substances generated during work activities (e.g. fumes from soldering and welding);
- Naturally occurring substances (e.g. grain dust);
- Biological agents such as bacteria and other micro-organisms.
There are eight key principals which employers should implement to ensure compliance with the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health (COSHH) Regulations 2002:
- Design and operate processes and activities to minimise emission, release and spread of substances hazardous to health.
- Take into account all relevant routes of exposure - inhalation, skin absorption and ingestion - when developing control measures.
- Control exposure by measures that are proportionate to the health risk.
- Choose the most effective and reliable control options which minimise the escape and spread of substances hazardous to health.
- Where adequate control of exposure cannot be achieved by other means, provide, in combination with other control measures, suitable personal protective equipment.
- Check and review regularly all elements of control measures for their continuing effectiveness.
- Inform and train all employees on the hazards and risks from the substances with which they work and the use of control measures developed to minimise the risks.
- Ensure that the introduction of control measures does not increase the overall risk to health and safety.
When using certain COSHH substances, a number are termed ‘dangerous for supply’ and will possess a label indicating the associated hazardous risks. When a COSHH substance receives the above term, it is a legal requirement that the substance must be supplied with a safety data sheet which contains relevant information regarding the substance. The safety datasheet should be utilised when producing the COSHH control system.
Implementing an effective COSHH control system not only aids in protecting employees in their line of work, but can also lead to financial savings for the business overall. This is due to the fact employees who are trained and know how to handle COSHH substances are less likely to spill and waste the substances or cause an environmental accident which the business must remedy.
If you require any assistance with the development or implementation of a COSHH control system please contact WRM’s H&S expert, Matt Stupples.