COSHH

What exactly is “C.O.S.H.H.”?

Control of Substances Hazardous to Health is the name given to a series of new policies aimed at protecting people against risks to their health, which may occur from exposure to substances of processes hazardous to their health at the workplace.

An employer who undertakes work which may expose any of his employees to substances hazardous to health shall provide that employee with such information, instruction and training as is suitable and sufficient for him to know the risks to health created by such exposure and the precautions which should be taken.

Although, it is the employer who has the main responsibility for implementing COSHH, employees, visiting workers, subcontractors, and other persons who may be affected by substances hazardous to health in the workplace are also assigned obligations under the policy.

Failure to comply with COSHH, in addition to exposing employees to risk will constitute an offence.

We are fully aware of the legal duties placed upon us by the legislation (UK Health Regulations 1994). Under the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 we have a legal duty to safeguard employees and the public health, safety and welfare within the workplace. We must fully comply with the legal requirements set out both within this Act and its associated regulations.

COSHH provides a legal framework to protect people against health risks from hazardous substances at work. It does not protect the consumer against the risks from chemicals, which may find their way into food.

A COSHH POLICY OUGHT TO STATE:

“All substances harmful to health must be identified, their uses risk assessed and controls put in place to ensure the employees health is safeguarded”. (COSHH assessment forms should be available in every company)

Harmful substances are those labelled as dangerous (i.e. toxic, harmful, irritant or corrosive) pathogens and substantial quantities of dust.

An assessment must be carried out of all work processes which are liable to expose any employee to hazardous solids, liquids, dusts, fumes, vapours, gases or micro-organisms. The assessment involves an evaluation of the risks to health and the action necessary to remove or reduce those risks.

Equipment must be properly maintained and procedures observed. Employees should be informed, instructed, and trained about the risks and the precautions to be taken. Occasionally it may be necessary to monitor the exposure of employees and to carry out an appropriate form of surveillance of their health.

Following the COSHH policy we must:

  • Identify the hazards
  • Assess the risks
  • Decide what precautions are needed
  • Prevent or control exposure
  • Ensure that control measures are used and maintained
  • Ensure employees are properly informed, trained and supervised

All part used or obsolete chemicals must be taken to Store Services in their original containers where they will be disposed of safely.

Suppliers requirements for COSHH:

Suppliers by law must include safety data sheets or labels for all substances bought into a workplace.

What are hazards?

  • Irritation of the skin
  • Damage to the eyes
  • Burning of the skin
  • Damage to the lungs
  • Poisoning

Who is at risk?

  • People who use chemicals
  • Work colleagues
  • Members of the public who are on the premises
  • Outside workers who are responsible for refuse collection

Do you know all you need to know?

Under COSHH, all persons at work need to know the safety precautions to take so as not to endanger themselves or others through exposure to substances hazardous to health. Below are general classifications of risk – know the appropriate symbol, the colour code, their meaning and their safety precautions.

Meaning

Symbol

Safety Precautions

Toxic/Very Toxic

May cause serious health risk or even death if inhaled, ingested or if it penetrates the skin

Wear suitable protective clothing, gloves and eye/face protection.

After contact with skin, wash immediately with plenty of water.

In case of contact with eyes, rinse, immediately with plenty of water and seek medical advice.

In case of accident of if you feel unwell, seek medical advice immediately.

Corrosive

May on contact cause destruction of living tissue or burns

Wear suitable gloves and eye/face protection.

Take off immediately all contaminated clothing.

In case of contact with skin, wash immediately with plenty of water.

In case of contact with eyes, rinse, immediately (15 minutes) with plenty of water and seek medical advice.

Harmful

May cause limited health risk if inhaled, ingested or if it penetrates the skin.

Don’t breathe vapour/spray/dust.

Avoid contact with skin.

Wash thoroughly before you eat, drink, or smoke.

In case of contact with eyes, rinse, immediately with plenty of water and seek medical advice.

Irritant

May cause inflammation and irritation on immediate or repeated of prolonged contact with the skin or if inhaled

In case of contact with eyes, rinse, immediately with plenty of water and seek medical advice.

In case of contact with skin, wash immediately with plenty of water.

Don’t breathe vapour/spray/dust.

Colour Codes

Red

Corrosive Hazardous

Maximum Precaution

Orange

Can be harmful

Take Precaution

Green

Non hazardous

Minimal Precaution

Safety Equipment has to be worn when handling chemicals

Toxic/Very Toxic

It is most unlikely that you will have contact with these categories of chemicals.

Corrosive

Safety goggles

Respirator mask

Gauntlets/rubber gloves

 

Irritant/Harmful

Gauntlets/rubber gloves

10 Golden COSHH Rules

  1. BE SURE YOU CAN READ ALL LABELS AND FOLLOW INSTRUCTIONS FOR USE
  2. WATCH OUT FOR HAZARD WARNING LABELS
  3. WEAR APPROPRIATE PROTECTIVE CLOTHING
  4. DO NOT MIX CHEMICALS. MIXING CHEMICALS CAN KILL
  5. NEVER PUT CHEMICALS INTO UNMARKED CONTAINERS
  6. ONLY USE CHEMICALS IN THEIR CORRECT CONTAINERS, WHICH ARE CLEARLY MARKED
  7. NEVER PUT CHEMICALS INTO BOTTLES OR CONTAINERS WITH OTHER USES, I.E. EATING AND DRINKING
  8. BE SURE YOU KNOW THE FIRST AID TREATMENT REQUIRED
  9. IF YOU ACCIDENTALLY SPILL CHEMICALS ON YOURSELF OR OTHERS
  10. ALL CHEMICALS MUST BE STORED SAFELY
  11. REPORT ANY FAULTY EQUIPMENT, SPILLAGE, OR DAMAGED CONTAINERS TO YOUR SUPERVISORS
  12. ALWAYS FOLLOW THE RULES. DEVELOP SAFE WORKING PRACTICES AROUND THE WORKPLACE
  13. IF YOU FIND ANYTHING WRONG, REPORT IT TO YOUR SUPERVISOR
COSHH
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