Every business regardless of its size and sector must comply with the health and safety laws. And for most businesses, workplaces, and organizations COSHH regulations play a significant role in protecting the safety and health of their employees or anyone involved.
Every year thousands of workers are made ill due to exposure to dangerous chemicals, substances, or materials. These illnesses range widely from low-risk hazards to high-risk hazards including skin irritation, harm to the eyes or mouth, or in severe conditions may lead to breathing issues, lung cancer, or other skin diseases.
Therefore, COSHH is an important health and safety consideration for businesses and employers in preventing their staff.
If you or your employees are unfamiliar with COSHH regulations, this blog post will explain what COSHH regulations are and how to comply with these regulations.
What is COSHH?
The Control of Substances Hazardous to Health or COSHH is a set of health and safety regulations put in place that requires employers to protect their workers from ill health occurring due to substances hazardous to health. Breaching COSHH regulations by employers or employees can result in legal and financial claims to businesses.
COSHH was introduced to control the exposure of such hazardous substances within the business or the workplace. Therefore, employers must take steps to monitor and manage risks, implement control measures, and keep the exposure to a minimum.
What Does COSHH Cover?
Many workplaces have obvious risks that can lead to severity, but there are other sectors as well which may pose less risk such as cleaners, construction, automotive industry, or food preparation.
The COSHH covers numerous hazardous substances. Such as:
- Biological Agents
The most common hazards depend on the type of business or the industry it operates in. If a business operates within a woodwork factory or a quarry then there are high chances of exposure to dust particles and fumes that can result in lung disease.
Everyday substances that can cause harm are all around us within the workplace. Therefore, employers must take vital controls to prevent their staff.
Why are COSHH Regulations Important?
According to a study conducted by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), nearly 1.7 million workers suffer from work-related ill health or injuries. Many of such injuries include lung diseases, skin diseases, or cancer and are due to exposure to harmful substances.
COSHH regulations aim at keeping both employers and their staff safe from exposure to hazardous chemicals or materials. Or else, non-compliance with these regulations can result in prosecution and hefty fines.
How to Comply with COSHH Regulations?
Following are the steps to comply with COSHH regulations:
Identify & Assess Risks
The first step to complying with COSHH regulations is to undertake a COSHH risk assessment to identify and assess any kind of hazardous substance risks within the workplace. Identifying harmful substances at work is not always easy as spotting the label on the product.
Employers need to carefully examine what can cause harm to their employees and take actions to minimize the risk.
Prevent Exposure to Hazardous Substances
Minimizing or preventing the risk of hazardous substances exposure is the key step of COSHH regulations that require employers to take whatever steps possible to prevent their staff from any kind of injuries, accidents, or ill health.
Below are some of the steps employers can take to avoid the exposure:
Substitute Dangerous Substances
One of the best ways to reduce the exposure to hazardous substances is by providing an alternative product for the workers to work with which in turn is less harmful and can do the job safely.
Provide Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
There are some scenarios where working with hazardous substances is unavoidable. In such circumstances, employers must provide their workers with adequate PPE suitable to conduct the work safely.
Supervise the Staff
Proper supervision and guidance can help prevent the proximity of accidents involving hazardous substances.
Monitor the Control Measures
The third step in the COSHH regulations is to monitor the control measures to ensure that they are effective in preventing the staff from any health risks posed by dangerous chemicals. Employers must record any findings to ensure that they are adequately implemented. Regular monitoring can help ensure they are up to date and working fine.
Sufficient Training for Hazardous Substances
It is an employer’s responsibility to provide training and information for your employees about hazardous substance control. Employees must have adequate COSHH training to identify, examine, and evaluate hazardous substances within their work environment.
Proper training also helps both employers and their staff to ensure their knowledge is up to date to meet compliance and follow health and safety procedures to mitigate the risk.
Prepare for Accidents & Emergencies
While COSHH regulations aim to prevent accidents, injuries, or ill health, employers must prepare effective plans to deal with foreseeable circumstances, accidents, and emergencies to respond effectively.
Complying with the law to meet health and safety regulations regarding COSHH is a must for employers and their workers to ensure their employees are safe whilst at work.
This post is a detailed explanation of what COSHH is, what COSHH covers, and what are the regulations to meet to prevent the safety and health of the staff.
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