A set of regulations required by employers to control the exposure of hazardous substances, COSHH stands for the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations. COSHH should be followed in order to prevent ill health with hazardous substances including; chemicals, bacteria, fumes and certain dusts. An employer must adhere to all COSHH regulations in order to control the safety of anyone who may come into contact with a harmful substance. To do this, there are several steps and procedures in place to keep everyone as safe as possible.
Health and safety in the workplace is of huge importance with the responsibility of staff’s safety lying at the door of the employer. Knowing how to equip your workplace with the appropriate health and safety procedures in order to keep employees safe whilst at work can often be difficult and confusing leaving you wondering, what can be done to make your company a safer place?
Reducing any risks that may cause problems to employees within the workplace can seem like a never-ending list. You must ensure that you supply first aid kits, have clear fire escape routes and the adequate number of fire extinguishers. If however, you work with or around dangerous substances, then you will also have an additional required set of rules and regulations to follow - this is where COSHH comes in.
COSHH is a British body of regulations that govern the storage and use of hazardous substances. When a substance is dangerous, it is described as either a solid, liquid or gas that can cause harm to people, other living organisms or the environment.
If you work amongst materials such as these you have more than likely come across COSHH. If hazardous substances are used within a business, the law requires the employer to monitor and control usage which prevents and reduces workers exposure to too many hazardous substances.
In order to comply with COSHH regulations, as an employer you must determine any health hazards within your business, decide what precautions are needed to prevent any harm to health and ensure any controlled measures are strictly followed.
Just as employers must follow these regulations, employers should also be provided with information, instruction and training on how to handle and store hazardous substances and a procedure to follow in the event of an emergency.
For harmful substances to be easily identified, a labeling system must be used which is required by law. This comprises of five levels to help users classify how dangerous a substance is and immediately allocate appropriate safety measures. The classifications are as follows:
- Very toxic = Substances which in very low quantities cause death or chronic damage to health when inhaled, swallowed or absorbed.
- Toxic = Substances which in low quantities cause death or chronic damage to health when inhaled, swallowed or absorbed.
- Harmful = Substances which may cause death or acute or chronic damage to health when inhaled, swallowed or absorbed via the skin.
- Corrosive = Substances which may destroy living tissues when coming into contact with them.
- Irritant = Non-corrosive substances which, through immediate, prolonged or repeated contact with the skin may cause inflammation.
Since COSHH has been established (25 years ago), there has been an overall reduction in hazardous substance related ill health. It’s thanks to regulations such as this that safer practice in the workplace can be up kept. With harmful substances being in the most unlikely places a lot of the time such as in factories, shops, farms, offices and labs it is important that every business checks what steps it needs to follow in order to stay within the correct health and safety regulations.
At Risk Assessment Products, we have a number of products that can help educate employees on the rules and regulations associated with COSHH and supply a range of specialist equipment that will help prevent or reduce workers exposure to harmful substances.
Just a few of our COSHH health and safety products include our COSHH information and help posters, Coshh DVD's that look into how to handle and store substances and COSHH cabinets that safely store any hazardous materials.
Ensuring you have the appropriate tools needed to keep your employees safe when working around hazardous substances means that you as a business are protected by law and that you have done everything in your power to keep your staff as safe as possible.