Risk Assessments - The Process for COSHH Compliance
Updated: May 4, 2020
The COSHH risk assessment was designed to identify risk involving exposure to hazardous substances in the workplace
It's important to note that health hazards are not restricted to chemicals or substances with hazard warning labels.
There are many harmful substances that can be created by the work you do; dust or fumes from sanding, cutting or dressing an item, for example.
These substances are also regulated by COSHH since they pose serious health risks.
To properly perform a COSHH assessment you must follow these steps.
Step 1: Identifying workplace hazards
To begin your COSHH risk assessment you will need to identify which of the substances you use by checking through their safety data sheets and product labels.
It's also important to move around your workplace and identify hazardous substances that may be produced through a work process.
Examples of work processes that would create harmful substances are welding, grinding, or cutting.
Step 2: Identifying who is exposed to risk and how
Which of your work processes create risk or harmful substances?
It's important to identify the route into the body that the hazardous substance can take.
Can the substance be breathed in, or get onto, or through the skin?
Know what the effects of exposure are for each separate route it may take into the body. For example, when something is breathed in it could cause respiratory diseases.
You must also take into account how long the work process takes and how long a single worker can be exposed to the risk without endangering their health past the limit.
Is it possible for people passing by the station to be exposed?
Workplaces often use machinery that needs maintaining, and when it breaks down, maintenance crews will need to pass through.
Workplace sites often see visitors to the business too, so it's critical that you take into account exposure to others.
A cleaning crew at the end of the work day would be a good example.
Step 3: Evaluating the risks identified and implementing the correct control measures
Once you've completed identifying the risks and chemicals in use, who will be exposed to them and how it threatens their health, you need to plan how to prevent that exposure.
Is a particular substance absolutely needed for the work process to be done?
Or is there a safer alternative that could be used in it's place?
Perhaps the process could be changed so that it doesn't create a hazardous substance. For example, using pellets instead of powders would significantly reduce air pollution in your workplace.
If it's not possible to remove the risk of exposure then it's crucial that you put into place the correct controls measures to reduce the risk of exposure and injury.
Those controls methods could include:
Make sure only the people needed to complete the work process are present.
The more people that are present increases the risk of an accident happen, especially if they're not trained to work there.
It's vital that the storage of materials is planned out and proper containers are used, all with the correct labels.
It's even more vital that incompatible materials are kept well away from each other.
Ensure work processes that create hazardous substances are properly enclosed, with proper ventilation in place, at the source.
When transporting materials use a closed transfer system to reduce the risk of injury when transporting hazardous substances.
Ensure that the correct equipment is instantly available in the event of a spillage.
Smooth work surfaces and floors should be smooth for easier cleaning.
Cleaning crews at the end of the work day are also at risk of exposure when cleaning down the workplace, so ensure that it can be properly cleaned easily and quickly to reduce that exposure.
If you're worried about making chemical safety or COSHH mistakes, you can take the new COSHH Risk Assessor Certification™.