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An explanation of COSHH regulations (Control of substances hazardous to health)

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An explanation of COSHH regulations (Control of substances hazardous to health)

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What is COSHH?

COSHH stands for the Control Of Substances Hazardous to Health. It is a UK statutory instrument that documents the requirements that employers must abide by in order to protect employees from hazardous substances that could be encountered in the work place. The main procedures to be considered by the employer are risk assessment, control of exposure to hazardous substances, monitoring information about employees’ health to assist in protecting employees and meticulously planning emergency procedures in case of an accident occurring.

COSHH regs

What defines a ‘Substance Hazardous to Health’?

A wide range of substances fall under the regulations of COSHH, this includes, but is not exclusively: Chemicals, fumes, dusts, vapours, mists, nanotechnology, gases, biological agents and germs that can cause diseases. It is important to note that lead, asbestos and radioactive substances are still hazardous to health despite not falling under COSHH regulations. This is because they have their own specifically outlined protocols.

What are the COSHH requirements?

COSHH states that employers must think about what activities they or their employees undertake that involves hazardous substances. Once the potentially dangerous situation/s have been identified, the employer must consider in what way harm might be caused, both immediate and long term, and work to find alternative or safer methods of practice thus reducing the risk of harm occurring.

How to actively reduce the risk of harm occurring?

The first steps towards COSHH compliance is always to try and reduce the risk of exposure to substances hazardous to health at the source. This would involve using safer processes, avoiding the substance/process altogether, substituting the hazardous substance for a safer alternative or using a safer form of the substance (solid, liquid, solid in liquid etc).

If you cannot prevent exposure to the hazardous  substance, it must be correctly controlled. This starts with minimising the emission, release and spread of the substance. In tandem with this, you should consider the possible routes of exposure and act to reduce them. Effective COSHH control measures must be put in place to minimise risk and personal protective equipment should be supplied.

You should be frequently reviewing the effectiveness of your COSHH methods and constantly working to improve them. Employees should be provided with training and information to ensure they are fully prepared to be working with hazardous substances. Finally, you must remember that whenever new measures are introduced, it will increase the likelihood of new risks and there will be new precautions to consider.

How Julius Rutherfood operates safely

No-one steps out in Julius Rutherfoord uniform until they’ve passed through our BICSc-accredited training programme – which includes COSHH training. And when we inherit TUPE staff, each one must re-train with us, so we know they meet our high standards of both performance and safety.

Safety to both our clients and our staff is of the upmost importance this is why at least every six months, staff must train again. This is to ensure that all existing procedures are abided by as well as any new health and safety procedures that may have come into practice.

Julius Rutherfoord