1) "COSHH" stands for Control of Substances
Hazardous to Health. These substances include chemicals, fumes,
dusts and biological agents, and control of them is a legal
requirement. Employers must control exposure to prevent ill-health
in employees and others who may be exposed.
2) The effects of exposure range from minor skin
irritations, to eye injuries, asthma, lung diseases, cancers and
death. Employers may be liable to enforcement action, and may
suffer loss of business or civil claims.
3) There are several steps which must be
Step 1:Assess the risks, - identify
hazardous substances and the risks they present.
Step 2:Decide what precautions are
Step 3:Prevent or control exposure.
Step 4:Ensure that controls are used and
Step 5:Monitor employee exposure (if
Step 6:Carry out health surveillance (if
necessary or required).
Step 7:Inform and train employees.
4) The COSHH Regulations specify which substances
must be controlled. Suppliers must provide a Safety Data sheet
which specifies the hazards and suggested precautionary measures.
This should be referred to when carrying out the assessment.
5) You must consider how the chemical is used, and
by whom. How could they be exposed to harm: by inhalation,
ingestion or skin contact?
6) Precautions should be put in place:
a)Substituting a less harmful
b)Change the process, e.g. to eliminate
the release of fume.
c)Use a safer form, e.g. pellets instead
d)Enclose the process.
e)Provide specific or general
f)Provide gloves, masks or other
protective measures (as a last resort).
Generally, if you can substitute a less harmful substance, you
should do so. If not you should change the process and so on down
7) It may be necessary to measure the
concentration of certain hazardous substances in the air from time
to time, to ensure that employees are not exposed to unacceptable
levels of hazardous substances. These assessments will show whether
control measures are working properly.
8) Health surveillance of individual employees is
required where they are working with specific substances, such as
benzene. Full details are provided in the COSHH Regulations
9) You must ensure that your
employees understand the risks, use the control measures and report
any concerns or faults.
Further information is available from the HSE Info line, 0541
545500, or HSE Books, P.O Box 1999, Sudbury, Suffolk, Tel. 01787