Whilst we are exposed to numerous substances in the environment, many with which we come into contact on a daily basis are not found naturally.
They are the product of modern-day research and development and have many benefits when used safely. However our bodies do not have the defence mechanisms in place to deal with many of these artificially created substances – we need protection from exposure.
This myriad of modern-day substances can therefore present a hazard to health. TheModern Employment Law, in the form of the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 requires that hazards to employees be identified, then eliminated or reduced to a practicable level, and then the associated risk assessments carried out. This requirement is further defined in the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health (COSHH) Regulations 2002.
The COSHH Regulations 2002 (as amended) defines such substances as:-
Substances labelled as dangerous i.e. toxic, very toxic, harmful, corrosive or irritant.
Substances assigned a Workplace Exposure Limit (WEL)
Substantial quantities of dust, being more than 10mg / m³ (8 hour time-weighted average)
Any substance creating a comparable hazard
A COSHH assessment is a systematic study of the use of a substance, its form, quantity, handling, transporting and storage, its possible harmful effects and the control measures appropriate, including emergency procedures in case of exposure or spillage.
The main purpose of a COSHH assessment is to ensure that those who are dealing with such substances are provided with the correct information to protect themselves and others.
The obtaining of a material safety data sheet for a substance does not constitute writing a COSHH assessment though it is one of the important steps in the process. The data sheet only describes the properties of the substance and precautions to be taken; it does not deal with the substance’s use.
Safety UK are able to assist you in the completion of necessary COSHH assessments to ensure compliance with current Regulations.