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The Key Principles of COSHH You Need to Know

photo shows items that would be covered by the COSHH regulations, including hand sanitiserMany industries deal with hazardous substances in their workplace every single day. For instance, companies involved in manufacturing may need to use chemicals to produce certain materials. Other industries that are known to deal with hazardous substances are healthcare industries and food industries. COSHH was put in place to protect both employers and employees. It serves as necessary precautions to ensure safe handling and control of hazardous substances within the work premises.

What Is COSHH?

COSHH means Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations. These regulations detail how employers should handle hazardous substances in their premises to keep everyone safe, most especially the employees who are in direct contact with these substances. The COSHH regulations are important because it ensures that the employees will stay safe when handling dangerous substances and materials at work. Failure of the employer to comply with the COSHH regulations is a crime and is punishable by a hefty fine.

Risk Assessment

COSHH has various components, all of which are put in place to ensure that all employees will be safe. Risk assessment is the first component of COSHH, a process that requires identifying the hazardous substances that are present in the workplace. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has provided employers with guidelines to help them understand how to properly carry out a risk assessment. It involves surveying the premises and noting down all the potentially dangerous substances in it and determining if these substances will come into contact with employees.

Substance Substitution

When a possible risk of exposure to hazardous substances has been identified during assessment, the employer should come up with a solution to ensure the safety of the employees. One of the most effective solutions is replacing the substance with something safe or less hazardous. For instance, if it has been identified during risk assessment that some cleaning products are made of hazardous chemicals, employers should swap it with something safer or less dangerous. It could also mean replacing powder substances with liquid, which is much easier to store and control.

Limiting Exposure and Dealing with Emergencies

Another thing that employers should do is to look for ways to limit the employees' exposure to these dangerous substances. There are many ways that an employer can do this, depending on the type of substances involved. Limiting exposure will also include requiring employees to wear proper protective clothing, reducing the amount of time that they need to spend in working with potentially dangerous substances, and teaching them how to properly store these substances.

The COSHH regulations also set down how employers should act in case of an emergency because whether we like it or not, accidents do happen. Employers should be able to provide first aid to the affected party and must designate individuals who should be the first ones to respond in case an emergency arises.

Information Sheets and Training

The COSHH regulations require employers to conduct training and constant education to ensure that everyone knows what they need to do to minimise their exposure to these hazards. Employers should supply a structured COSHH training course to make sure that the knowledge and skills in handling hazardous substances in the workplace will not lapse.

Since hazardous substances require special handling and storage, the employers should be able to make available information sheets for the benefit of the employees. These data sheets should detail how these substances should be handled to avoid accidents and minimise exposure. This is very important so that people who are not familiar with the substances will know what to do in case they get into contact with these substances.


Author bio:

This article was provided by Virtual College who provides digital training solutions in all aspects of health and safety, from accessible online training to bespoke professional CPD. They have been in the health and safety sector for many years and understand the need to keep up with the latest legislation and training. 

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