Are COSHH assessments a legal requirement? The short answer is, yes.
COSHH assessments are actually a legal requirement under not one, but two pieces of legislation!
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, the use (or production) of any substances hazardous to health (including liquids, dusts, fumes etc) requires assessment under the regulations.
Since almost all organisations will buy, use or produce hazardous substances, from cleaning solutions to highly toxic chemicals, everyone should know about the implications of COSHH at work.
Regulation 6 of the legislation outlines the requirement for COSHH assessment, specific to substances that are hazardous to health.
6.—(1) An employer shall not carry out work which is liable to expose any employees to any substance hazardous to health unless he has—
(a)made a suitable and sufficient assessment of the risk created by that work to the health of those employees and of the steps that need to be taken to meet the requirements of these Regulations
Under the COSHH Regulations, the need to carry out COSHH assessment is specifically detailed.
That makes sense, since these regulations are specific to hazardous substances.
However, another set of regulations also applies to the need to carry out a COSHH assessment.
So better make double sure we do one!
In addition to the COSHH Regulations, and the specific requirement to carry out a COSHH assessment, the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations also apply.
The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations require a risk assessment to be carried out for any risks to the health and safety of employees or other persons.
This risk assessment is a process of identifying hazardous and evaluating the risk levels and control measures needed.
Since hazardous substances can (as the name suggests) present a hazard that can result in risks to the health and safety of employees or other persons, the requirement to carry out a COSHH risk assessment would also come under Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations.