COSHH Risk Assessments | Do they apply to your business?

Only if you use chemicals in your workplace.  Things like washing up liquid and bleach don’t need assessing but your staff should still be informed of the correct way to use them.lungs

Assessment is the responsibility of the employer.  Persons preparing the assessment will need to have access to, and understand, COSHH related legislation, Codes of Practice and published guidance.  They will need to be competent to carry through the work of assessment and consult with the workforce and inform them of results accordingly.

Assessment is a step-by-step approach: Identify what hazards there are then evaluate the risks to people.  For significant risks, decide on the action needed to remove or reduce them to insignificant levels.

COSHH risk assessments need to meet the requirements of The Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 2002.  So, in simple terms, your risk assessments need to be completed in ‘Sections’ ensure that you meet the requirements.

These may be broken down as follows:-

  1. Date of assessment and review date – You should always have a review date even if the substance or method of using it isn’t going to change.
  2. The Substance name, and a description of the process in which the substance is used.
  3. You also need to list the hazardous properties of the substance, and any information on the possible health effects of using it.
  4. A simple statement of the level, type and duration of exposure to the substance, and any relevant Occupational Exposure Standards should be included.
  5. You need to show how effective is your use of the preventative and control measures that you have put into place.
  6. If you use chemicals that could cause sensitisation or irritation to the skin, or substances that can be breathed into the lungs, or can be absorbed through the skin then some form of Health Surveillance will need to be carried out.  You will need to detail the type and results of this surveillance which could take the form of questionnaires as well as biological monitoring.
  7. If you use higher risk substances such as isocyanates or chromate based paints then the results of biological monitoring should be available for inspection by the Health & Safety Executive  and it should be stated in the assessment that this is the case and you must retain these records for at least 30 years.
  8. If you use substances in combination then the risk presented by the mixture should be stated.
  9. Explain also how you will address the issues of Information, Instruction and Training for persons exposed.

Finally, all employees should read and understand the details of the risk assessments. All employees should receive instruction in relation to the substance involved and to the work processes in which it is used from a competent person.  Employees could, for example, attend a suitable awareness course related to the substances, the hazards to which they give rise to, and the preventative and control measures necessary for their protection. The proper fitting, use and care of PPE should be included in the content of this training as should relevant emergency measures such as fire fighting, spill control, and the recognition of symptoms related to exposure and first aid measures.

A record should be kept to this effect in the personnel file for the employees concerned   Instruction and training should be reviewed annually or whenever the risk changes and records re?made.

As always, if you have questions related to specific COSHH assessments please call one of our safety consultants for advice and support on 01453 800100.

If you’ve got questions or need support on safety in the industrial, contracting or construction sectors please contact us for sensible and proportionate advice on 01453 800100

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