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Many substances can be harmful to health, including metalworking fluid, dust and fume-laden air, paint, ink, glue, lubricant and detergent amongst others. There are particular risks from hazardous substances such as isocyanates and other respiratory sensitisers. A COSHH assessment will help you to manage the risks associated with using hazardous materials. The Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 2002 (COSHH) require that the health risks arising from exposure to substances hazardous to health are avoided where this is reasonably practicable or that they are controlled where it is not reasonably practicable to avoid them.
A Control of Substances Hazardous to Health risk assessment (or COSHH Assessment) concentrates on the hazards and risks from substances that are stored, used or generated in your workplace. The hazards and risks are not just associated with bottles marked “Hazardous”. There are a large number of substances which can be hazardous to health and can induce debilitating diseases, including asthma, cancer and skin diseases.
To comply with the principles of COSHH, the employer should:
- Assess the risks to health and decide what precautions are needed (COSHH Assessment)
- Inform workers of the risks associated with exposure to substances hazardous to health and of the control measures to be used to ensure their health and safety.
- Prevent workers being exposed to substances hazardous to health or, where this is not reasonably practicable, ensure that such exposure is controlled adequately.
- Ensure that exposure control measures are followed at all times, and regularly checked and maintained and that safety procedures are observed.
- Monitor workers exposure to substances hazardous to health and carry out appropriate health surveillance, where the COSHH assessment has shown this is necessary.
- Train workers in the use of control measures and the use of any personal protective equipment that may be required.
- Provide suitable welfare facilities, such as washing and areas to consume food away from the workplace.