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COSHH: the key steps to compliance

Category: Health & Safety | Bryan Richards Twitter | Published on: Oct 31, 2014 | Updated: Dec 12, 2016 Read more: Health & Safety

This month marks the 25th anniversary of the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations, simply known to many as COSHH.

Many organisations use hazardous substances at work, but do you really understand the requirements of the COSHH? Common mistakes recently highlighted in the SHP Magazine include:

Manufacturer’s Safety data Sheets are obtained and filed. This is considered by the organisation as sufficient, but of course it is not. It is only part of the process of a COSHH risk assessment to identifying hazards and ensure that adequate measures are in place to protect and monitor the health of workers.

COSHH risk assessments are completed and filed, but not implemented. I once visited a commercial vehicle workshop where the fitters in their oil stained clothing in the workshop were not aware of the perfect `COSHH File’ held by the Manager in his prsitine office. It must be ensured that employees are aware of risk control measures, otherwise a COSHH risk assessment is a mere paper exercise.

The COSHH hierarchy of risk control meaures is not followed. Hazardous substances such as solvents and concentrated corrosive substances are used when less hazardous products would be operationally effective. Following this principle will lead to healthier working and can reduce the cost of providing dedicated mechanical extract ventilations systems.

Personal protective equipment (PPE) is required to be worn for every task. This can undermine worker “buy in” to the value of wearing PPE where there is a significant risk of injury, particularly eye injury from chemical splashes. It must be ensured that employees are given clear guidance on where and when PPE needs to be worn.

Key Management Action

If you are an organisation which uses hazardous substances then you need to co-ordinate how health risks are managed by following the requirements of COSHH. Table 1 shows five simple steps to compliance with COSHH taken from the Arinite COSHH factsheet. If you follow these steps you will be in good position to comply with the Regulations.

TABLE 1 – SIMPLE STEPS TO COMPLIANCE WITH COSHH
STEP 1 – Make a list (Inventory) of all the substances you use that you think may be hazardous. Labelling is a good guide. STEP 2 – List the quantities of each substance and where it is used. STEP 3 – Obtain the Manufacturer’s Safety Data Sheets for each of the substances. Most of these can be found on manufacturer’s STEP 4 – Look at the guidance on use in the Data Sheets and use the information to carry out a risk assessment of how the substances are used in your workplace. STEP 5 – Ensure that the risk control measures identified in your risk assessment are implemented.

How Arinite can help

Arinite has the expertise to ensure that you are managing the risks to health from hazardous substances in a systematic way that is proportionate to your operational activities.

Contact us

Arinite clients appreciate we provide practical, no-nonsense advice about what you need to do to establish and maintain a safe and healthy working environment. My team of health and safety consultants take pride in keeping health and safety simple for our clients.

If you need to call upon our expert assistance, or just for an informal chat, please call me on: mobile 0780 361 2948, office 0207 947 9581, or drop me a line at b.richards@arinite.com.

Bryan Richards 31st October 2014

Arinite Ltd, Warnford Court, 29 Throgmorton Street, London EC2N 2AT

 
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