The Benefits Of A COSHH Inventory (And How To Write One) header image

1st October, 2018

The Benefits Of A COSHH Inventory (And How To Write One)

One of the first steps to complying with the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health (COSHH) Regulations, is to identify the hazardous substances used and produced within your workplace.

What is a COSHH inventory?

Put simply, a COSHH inventory is a record of the hazardous substances you have identified.

Identifying and keeping a list of all substances used or generated within your workplace in a COSHH inventory, can help you create an effective COSHH system that is both easy to maintain and easy to access important COSHH information.

Once you know which substances are harmful within the tasks and activities carried out, you can start assessing them.

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;

The Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 2002

An inventory is defined as "a detailed list of all the things in a place", and your COSHH inventory will be just that, a detailed list of your hazardous substances, and the related documents and records in place.

Check out the free COSHH register template for an example of how your COSHH inventory might look.

What are the benefits of a COSHH inventory?

A COSHH inventory is not a legal requirement as such, but the COSHH regulations are, and keeping a record of the hazardous substances used makes it easy to keep a track of your compliance.

Your COSHH inventory will:

  • Give an overview of the hazardous substances used
  • Keep track of when substances were last assessed
  • Detail where substances are stored
  • Reference important documents such as the material safety data sheet (MSDS) and COSHH assessment for the substance

Controlling hazardous substances is an important aspect of health and safety management within most businesses. From cleaners to contractors, on building sites and in offices, hazardous substances are often used within a variety of different workplaces.

Whether these substances are high risk, or low risk, to comply with the COSHH regulations and meet your legal obligations, as an employer, hazardous substances must be managed.

Most organisations will hold a number of COSHH assessments for a variety of substances, but find it difficult to quickly identify where substances are used, or when assessments need updating without going through each assessment individually.

The easiest way to keep a grip on COSHH compliance is to keep a record of all the hazardous substances you use. A COSHH inventory will help you to manage the use and storage of substances hazardous to health within your organisation.

How do you write a COSHH inventory?

Writing a COSHH inventory doesn't need to be complicated, it should just be a simple record or register of the hazardous substances employees are exposed to.

You can use the free COSHH register template to create your COSHH inventory.

Your COSHH inventory gives you an up to date record of the substances used, the activities they are used for and the COSHH assessments associated with those substances. It will also help you to easily identify when further action is needed, such as reviewing your assessments and control measures, as required by the control of substances hazardous to health regulations.

COSHH assessments should be carried out for the activity the substance is used in, as different activities will result in different risks, exposure levels and require different control measures. Your COSHH inventory will help you record the substances used, but also easily access all the COSHH assessments associated with that substance.

Don’t forget to keep safety data sheets for all substances, along with your COSHH assessments, as these will give additional important safety information relating to the substance.

If you generate a simple COSHH inventory in a spreadsheet or table, your COSHH inventory can be used to record the location of COSHH assessments within a filing system or other location.

If you develop your COSHH inventory in electronic format, including your records and data sheets, your COSHH inventory can link through to the documents, making access and maintenance of your COSHH system even quicker.

The importance of a COSHH inventory is to create a user-friendly record of the substances used. When your employees come to use a substance, or you change a procedure and need to update an assessment, with your COSHH inventory you can quickly access the COSHH data you need.

Create your COSHH inventory today using free COSHH register template.

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This article was written by Emma at HASpod. Emma has over 10 years experience in health and safety and BSc (Hons) Construction Management. She is NEBOSH qualified and Tech IOSH.

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