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COSHH: A Brief Guide to Control of Substances Hazardous to Health

COSHH isn’t just a random collection of letters thrown together by government health and safety regulators; COSHH is one of the most important aspects of a health and safety compliant working environment.

COSHH stands for ‘Control of Substances Hazardous to Health’, and it’s a set of regulations enforced by law, by the government, to ensure that dangerous chemicals and substances are handled safely.

Breaking COSHH regulations not only results in a prosecution, but can directly lead to workplace accidents that leave employees injured, or worse. In this blog post, we examine the basics of COSHH and how you can become COSHH compliant in the workplace.

What Is COSHH?

COSHH (Control of Substances Hazardous to Health) is a set of government regulations first outlined in 1999, and then greatly expanded upon in 2002 to give the framework for control of dangerous substances we have today.

COSHH is effectively an extension of health and safety rules and regulations as outlined by the Health and Safety Executive. COSHH is unique however in that it targets substances that can be hazardous to health. The aim of COSHH is to minimise workplace accidents that cause injury through the mishandling or incorrect storage of chemicals and dangerous substances.

Which Substances Are Hazardous to Health?

COSHH regulations cover any substance or chemical that can potentially cause injury or death. While many of these hazardous substances are obvious, such as hazardous waste or industrial cleaning chemicals, many more we might see as routine cleaning substances. All chemicals and substances, no matter how minor their risk of injury might be, are included in COSHH regulations.

Hazardous substances include cleaning chemicals such as bleach or glass cleaner, alongside industrial chemicals that might be mixed together onsite or diluted by employees. COSHH is also concerned with the dangers posed by dust, fumes and waste products, as well as biological substances such as bacteria and viruses that could affect employees.

The essential concept behind COSHH is to regulate the way that these hazardous substances are stored and handled by employees, to minimise the risks to health and safety.

COSHH Assessments and Workplace Responsibilities

For employers looking to become health and safety compliant, it’s essential that they carry out regular COSHH assessments of their workplace.

A COSHH assessment is a form of risk assessment that identifies any substances that can potentially be hazardous to health. As part of this, employers need access to up-to-date regulations and need to identify how at risk their employees are. If the level of risk is deemed too high, action must be taken to safeguard the welfare of employees.

As part of their compliance, employers are responsible for providing employees with initial and on-going training if they are expected to handle hazardous substances. They are also responsible for providing adequate PPE (personal protective equipment) and for organising accident and emergency procedures should the worst happen while at work.

How Can Be Safe Technologies Help Your COSHH Assessments?

Be Safe Technologies has been developing the next generation of cloud-based technology to ensure that health and safety compliance is easier yet more effective than ever before.

Our innovative Compliance Genie app allows you to streamline your company’s health and safety needs while carrying out comprehensive COSHH assessments in your workplaces.

Contact Be Safe Technologies today to find out more about COSHH compliance in the workplace.


See also

Health and Safety Responsibilities for Employers – what you must do to keep staff safe.

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