Why Are COSHH Regulations Needed?
Updated: May 4
COSHH, or The Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 2002 is how the UK government ensure safe use and control of hazardous substances.
COSHH is a statutory body of regulations in the United Kingdom.
It places certain requirements on employers to ensure that employees and other visitors to a workplace are protected from hazardous substances.
These substances include:
Every business with a physical presence has hazardous substances.
Whether you work in a foundry or an office, there are various substances that you can encounter. It could be dust and fumes from the machinery you use at work, or it could be a particularly noxious gas that comes from melting down metals.
Or it may be chemicals in a laboratory. COSHH was brought into effect to protect people from exposure to these substances and to teach people how to deal with them.
Research over the years suggests that up to a quarter of all UK workers are exposed to hazardous substances while working.
Thousands of people, every year, are diagnosed with health issues that can be traced to exposure to hazardous substances.
Skin disease, lung disease and cancer are just a few of these health problems.
To effectively comply to these regulations all businesses and employers must conduct risk assessments throughout their whole site.
Which means, anything that could pose a risk to health arising from hazardous substances that could be created in each work environment.
Once a risk has been assessed, then must the employer decide and implement those precautions that will effectively prevent or sufficiently control potential exposure.
COSHH is a hierarchy of control measures that must be adhered to.
When possible, the employer must change the process or activity of the work so that hazardous substances will not be used or generated.
In simpler terms, if there is a safer alternative then it absolutely must be implemented.
If there is no way to prevent exposure then the latest methods of controlling those hazardous substances must be implemented.
This could be achieved through the use of proper ventilation, enclosure, or other method depending on the situation and substance.
PPE, or Personal Protective Equipment, is a requirement under COSHH and is the last control measure that will be used by employers.
All employees should be provided with adequate PPE for their work.
All visitors to the workplace must likewise be provided with the proper PPE for the area they will be visiting.
Employers must then ensure that all preventative and control measures are followed and maintained.
This includes the proper monitoring of exposure, surveillance of health and the instruction of employees.
Every employee must be informed the dangers and be properly trained and supervised in the use and control of hazard substances.
Likewise, any visitor to a workplace must strictly adhere to the same regulations.
An employer must provide the correct training.
Collecting all the data and filing it away is not sufficient to comply with COSHH regulations.
Worried that your business and workplace may not be fully COSHH compliant?