Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations - Every year, thousands of people experience injuries or ill health caused by hazardous substances and, in some cases, contract serious diseases such as asthma or dermatitis. For this reason, it is essential that the use of hazardous substances is controlled in the workplace.
In this article, we will look at the COSHH Regulations and explore some of their key takeaways.
COSHH is a set of regulations that are designed to protect employees from experiencing harm or ill health from any hazardous substances that they use at work. They do this by placing a number of responsibilities on employers and employees, which we will explore later in this article.
COSHH stands for the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 2002.
There are a large number of substances covered by the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health (COSHH) Regulations 2002. More specifically, the regulations state that a hazardous substance is any one of the following:
In practice, this means that almost any substance that could harm human health is considered to be a hazardous substance for the purposes of the COSHH Regulations.
Regulations 6 - 13 of the COSHH Regulations outline several things that employers must do in order to protect the health of its employees who work with hazardous substances. We will explore each of these regulations, and their requirements, below.
Before their employees carry out work with hazardous substances, regulation 6 of the COSHH Regulations require that employers carry out a 'suitable and sufficient' risk assessment.
The assessment must identify the risks associated with the substances, and determine the measures needed to comply with the COSHH Regulations and protect those using them. There are several things that should be considered while completing this assessment, including:
If you would like to learn more, consider taking our Online Risk Assessment Training Course.
This regulation requires employers to prevent its employees from being exposed to hazardous substances or, where this is not possible, control their exposure to these substances as much as they can.
There is a broad hierarchy of control that outlines an order in which control measures should be considered:
Regulations 8 and 9 are similar in function, and require employers to ensure that control measures are used correctly, and are maintained, examined and tested as needed.
The steps an employer must take to comply with these regulations will vary significantly. This is because there are a wide range of control measures that can be used to limit exposure to hazardous substances, which will all have different maintenance and testing needs.
Regulation 8 also requires employees to make full use of the control measures that their employer has provided, and report any issues or defects that they identify as soon as possible.
Regulation 10 requires that, where necessary, employers provide exposure monitoring to assess the extent of its employees’ exposure to hazardous substances.
Specific information on what exposure monitoring looks like, and who is responsible for carrying it out, can be found on the HSE website.
This regulation requires employers to provide health surveillance to its employees if necessary. Not all employees need to have their health monitored - it is usually reserved for those that use a substance that is likely to cause an identifiable disease or adverse health effect.
Health surveillance is an important process, and is used to:
Anyone who works with hazardous substances must be provided with 'suitable and sufficient information, instruction and training'. This includes information on:
Regulation 13 requires employers to have appropriate arrangements in place to deal with any accidents, incidents or emergencies that may occur. The exact arrangements will vary between employers, but should include:
At Commodious, we offer a COSHH Awareness course that is designed to provide employees with the information they need to work safely with hazardous substances. To find out more about this course, use the link below: