A Chemical Inventory will Save you Time and Money at Work!
Updated: May 4
The COSHH Regulations call upon employers to ensure their employees are protected from exposure to hazardous substances.
A big part of the work that goes into keeping workers safe is constantly tracking which substances you use in your workplace.
Keeping your chemical inventory up-to-date will not only ensure your people know all of the information they need to know when they need to know it. It'll also cover you and your business' back when the inevitable COSHH audit comes around.
What is your Chemical Inventory?
Your chemical inventory is basically a list of all the hazardous substances you currently hold on-site, what they're being used for, where they're stored, how much you have stored, when they are last assessed and when a new assessment is due to be made.
Chemical inventories are really easy to keep and apart from giving you a snapshot of which chemicals are in use in your workplace, it will allow you and your employees to quickly check which substance pose a threat to your health and where the relevant safety data is located so you can take steps to control the risks.
Writing your Chemical Inventory?
Writing your chemical inventory can as simple or as complicated as you want to make it, but I'd recommend keeping it fairly simply and using a computer.
If your inventory is easy to navigate you'll ensure anyone looking at it is able to find the information they need as quickly as possible.
There are generally 4 steps to a successful chemical inventory and I'll go through them here.
Locate and record all of your chemicals, chemical storage areas, and activities in your workplace that use, or create, hazardous substances
Take a walk around your workplace and make sure you know, and record, where every chemical is stored, which work process it is used for and how much of it there is.
Now take a walk around your workplace and find all of the activities that create hazardous substances through their work process. Hazardous substances aren't only chemicals.
Dust, fumes, mists, vapours, gases, biological agents and disease-causing germs are all regulated under COSHH and any of them present in your workplace need to be recorded and assessed.
Locate and review all of your chemical safety data
Each and every one of the hazardous substances present in your workplace should have a chemical safety data sheet.
Chemicals you purchase are generally delivered with up-to-date safety data sheets but it's very important to check them upon receiving them. It's not heard of to be sent out-of-date safety information and the consequences can be extreme.
Once you know that all of your safety data sheets contain the correct information it's time to review the risk assessments for each hazardous substances. If there has been no risk assessment undertaken for a particular substance then you need to perform one.
COSHH assessments should not only assess the substance itself but also the activity it is used in. It's often the case that a hazardous substance is used, or produced, differently which may result in different risks presenting themselves.
In this case, each activity and its own risks must be assessed and controlled separately.
Implement your Control Measures
Using the information you know about the hazardous substance from its safety data sheet and the information about the work process in your risk assessment you can begin to implement the control measures that will help keep your employees safe from harm.
When putting the control measures in place, it's important that the work is supervised. Installing improper or defective control measures can have serious consequences. To avoid this, make sure the work is checked over by a safety professional.
Review your Chemical Inventory, Hazardous Substance Use, and Control Measures
It's critically important to stay on top of your chemical inventory and all of the chemical safety data it contains. Ensuring it's kept up-to-date will help to keep you and your employees safe.
Likewise, regularly reviewing all of your risk assessments and control measures will ensure you catch and and all new risks that may show up. This will highlight if a work process changes without a proper risk assessment being performed, or if a piece of equipment is improperly maintained.
The most important piece of information you'll garner through reviewing your safety information is whether or not an improved control measure is available.
Technology today is amazing, and many control measures are improved upon every year. Ensure you're using the most effective controls you can to help keep your employees free from exposure.
Keeping an Up-to-Date COSHH Inventory will Benefit your Business
Ensuring your chemical inventory is pristine will allow you and your employees to constantly access the correct information that is relevant to their work activity.
You can be sure you'll be in trouble if you don't know where all of the hazardous substances in your workplace are, how they affect the health of your workers and have adequate preventative measures in place to control them.
Keep a regularly updated chemical inventory is far and away the easiest method of keeping track of all the hazardous substances in your workplace.
You Ensure Compliance
If you have an up-to-date chemical inventory when an incident occurs, the information it contains will ensure that any emergency response teams coming to your aid know exactly what hazardous substances they are dealing with, and how to properly protect themselves, your employees, and the environment when doing so.
Meet Alexis, our friendly AI. He's really helpful when it comes to COSHH management and risk assessments. He automatically pulls the important information from the substance you're using and inserts it right into your assessment. Right out of our database of over 250, 000 safety data sheets! What a guy!