How to manage substances you use and produce

The Control of Substances Hazardous to Health (COSHH) is legislation regarding the harm that could come from contact with substances you use AND produce at work. This includes chemicals, products containing chemicals, fumes, dusts, vapours, gases, biological agents (germs) and mists.

To judge how any of these might affect those involved with your organisation you are required to assess the risk they present.

So here are the steps to take in order to carry out a COSHH assessment:

1. Walk around your workplace. Where is there potential for exposure to substances that might be hazardous to health? Examples include processes that emit dust, fume, vapour, mist or gas; and skin contact with liquids, pastes and dusts.

2. Get hold of safety data sheets for the substances that you buy.

3. Some substances arise from processes and have no safety data sheet. Examples include fume from welding or soldering, mist from metalworking, dust from quarrying, gases from silage. Look at the HSE web pages for your trade or industry –

4. Work out which jobs or tasks lead to any kind of exposure, note these down and also note down what control measures you already use. For these jobs and tasks, how likely is any harm to workers’ health? Look back through your accident book to see if there are examples of burns from splashes, nausea or light-headedness from solvents.

We would be pleased to help with step by step guides to COSHH assessment or we have training available our online academy.


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