What Is COSHH and Why Was It Introduced?
The COSHH regulations have played an important part in improving safety standards in the workplace, raising awareness of risks and giving employers an incentive to ensure that both their workplace and workers are safe.
COSHH, which stands for ‘Control of Substances Hazardous to Health’ and was introduced as part of UK government legislation in improving workplace safety, as a formalisation of safety measures required by the Factories Act 1961 and the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974, playing a vital role in many industries.
The result of this law (which was introduced in 2002) requires employers to control the exposure of hazardous substances to their workforce in order to prevent ill-health and potential life-threatening incidents from occurring.
What Types of Hazardous Substances Does COSHH Cover?
COSHH covers hazardous substances in many forms, from chemicals to vapours and fumes to dusts, as well as products containing chemicals, mists, gases and asphyxiating gases, biological agents and germs that can cause diseases such as Legionnaires disease and Leptospirosis.
4 Ways to Comply with COSHH Regulations:
Controlling risks at work and ensuring your employees remain safe are crucial factors to consider in any workplace. With such a large number of people to keep safe, safeguarding your office environment and keeping it COSHH regulated will mean assessing the risks that arise within your workplace.
In order to keep your employees safe and to comply with health and safety procedures, the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health (COSHH) Regulations 2002 requires employers to take the following steps:
1. Risk Assessment
Assess the risks that arise from the use of hazardous substances. This will include any arrangements to deal with accidents, incidents or emergencies, such as those resulting from serious spillages. The assessment must also include the health and safety risks arising from storage, handling or disposal of any of the substances.
2. Prevent and Monitor Exposure
Prevent, or if this is not reasonably practicable, control exposure to such hazardous substances. This can be achieved by providing staff with information, instruction and training about the risks, steps and precautions you have taken to control these risks, e.g. provision of appropriate rubber gloves or appropriate eye protection.
3. Implement Control Measures
Once you have implemented the appropriate control measures, and provided the relevant safety equipment, you must then ensure they are routinely maintained and tested to certify that they are at the right standard and provide adequate protection to your staff.
4. Staff Training
Finally, it should be noted that it’s not just employers who have an obligation under COSHH regulations. For their own safety, employees are also required to ensure that they comply with COSHH, as they need to ensure that they follow safety measures correctly and report defective equipment.
This can be achieved by providing information, training and instruction for employees, including cleaning and maintenance staff, who work with substances hazardous to health. It’s also important to present to staff the potential personal results of not following training and safety procedures. This is because employees need to understand the outcome of your workplace risk assessment and what this means for them.
Additionally, when a contractor comes on site, they also need to be informed of what the risks are within your workplace and how you are controlling said risks. On the other hand, they will need to inform you if they are bringing hazardous substances onto your premises, and how they will prevent harm in doing so.
At Insight Services, we understand that there’s a number of health and safety regulations to consider, as cleaning often involves working with potentially harmful chemicals. We appreciate the importance of keeping employees safe, which is why we are approved by the leading certification ISOQAR who audit us against national standards for Health & Safety Management (ISO 18001) demonstrating our skills and industry experience.