25th July, 2017
The Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations apply to every workplace. Here are 9 ways you can comply with COSHH:
COSHH stands for Control of Substances Hazardous to Health. It stands to reason that you need to know which substances you need to control before you can comply with the COSHH regulations.
You can check the safety information on labels and the information provided by suppliers for substances you purchase, but remember to also identify any substances you produce including mixtures, fumes and dusts.
Under the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations (COSHH Regulations), COSHH assessments are required by law, for any substances that are hazardous to health.
So, to comply with COSHH, once you have identified these hazardous substances, you need to carry out COSHH assessments for them.
Of course, the main purpose of COSHH is the control of hazardous substances. To comply, you should prevent or adequately control exposure.
This may involve eliminating or substituting substances for lower risk alternatives, or applying protection measures such as engineering controls, ventilation systems and personal protective equipment (usually a combination of control measures).
Arrangements for safe handling, storage, transport and disposal of hazardous substances should be in place. These can be recorded in your COSHH assessment.
Consider the type of hazards that each substance presents, this could be corrosive, flammable or harmful to the environment. The bigger the risk, the stricter the arrangements will need to be to allow the substance to be used safely.
Things can, and unfortunately do, go wrong. It is important to plan for accidents, incidents and emergencies, in fact COSHH Regulation 13 requires you to have these arrangements in place.
Emergency arrangements should include spillage procedures, emergency procedures, including first aid, and where needed, steps to mitigate the effects, details on the hazards present, and warning or communication systems to enable an appropriate response.
Ok, so you have identified the hazardous substances and created your COSHH assessments, but you need to keep these up to date, and make them easily available to your workforce. If you only use 10 hazardous substances, keeping these COSHH assessment organised in a file might be simple.
But what if you have hundreds? A COSHH register is a great way to keep your COSHH records organised. You can record the location of the substance, its COSHH assessment reference, data sheet and the date for review. Get started with our free download.
Where required, particularly with higher risk substances for protecting the health of employees, making sure workplace exposure limits are not exceeded and ensuring maintenance of controls, exposure levels should be monitored at regular intervals.
It is also considered appropriate to provide health surveillance for employees where they are exposed to specified substances and there is a reasonable likelihood that an identifiable disease or adverse health effect.
Regulation 12 of COSHH states that Every employer who undertakes work which is liable to expose an employee to a substance hazardous to health shall provide that employee with suitable and sufficient information, instruction and training.
You should provide employees with the significant findings of the COSHH assessment and the precautions, controls and actions to be taken, along with details of any monitoring and health surveillance in place.
This could be in the form of tool box talks, safety briefs or COSHH awareness briefings. You could also provide more formal COSHH awareness training, particularly for those with COSHH responsibilities.
Need help with COSHH? Start your COSHH register today by downloading our free template to help you identify the hazardous substances in use, and download COSHH assessment templates for your work activities.