Individuals who are exposed to hazardous substances during the course of their working lives are put at great risks against their health. Accordingly appropriate legislation needs to be put in place to ensure appropriate health and safety requirements are put in place by all employers who deal with hazardous substances to protect their employees.
Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 2005
The Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations or COSHH came into force in April 2005 and impose a duty on all employers who deal with hazardous substances to ensure the health and safety of their employee’s.
What is meant by Hazardous Substances?
The Regulations define a hazard in relation to a substance as meaning the intrinsic property of that substance has the potential to cause harm to the health of a person
Substances which are said to be hazardous to health therefore include the following substances:
Substances which are classified as dangerous to health under the chemicals regulations. These substances must all have a warning label and each supplier must provide data sheets for them which will help in their identification.
Certain biological agents such as bacteria and other micro-organisms if they are directly connected with work. Examples of this kind of work will be in the farming industry, the treatment of sewage and even healthcare where the exposure is incidental to the work.
Any substances produced in chemical processes
- Any other substance which creates a risk to health
The following substances are not covered by the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations:
- Asbestos – regulated by the Control of Asbestos at Work Regulations 2002
- Substances which are hazardous only because they become radioactive at high pressure, at extreme temperatures or have explosive or flammable properties – regulated by the Control of Major Accidents Hazards (Amendment) Regulations 2005
Duty of Employers under the Regulations
The Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations specifies various duties which all employers when concerned with hazardous substances should adhere to. They are as follows:
Assess the risks through a risk assessment
Decide what measures need to be put in place and then implement them
Control the exposure
Monitor the Exposure
Maintain the measures in place
Review the measures in place
Prove appropriate training to employees
All employers who deal with hazardous substances during the course of their business must undertake a full risk assessment taking into account the following factors:
- the hazardous properties of the particular substance
- any information on health effects provided by the supplier, including information contained in any relevant safety data sheet
- the level, type and duration of exposure which employees may suffer
- the circumstances of the particular work. When looking at the employers must consider the amount of the substance involved
- all activities, such as maintenance, where there is the potential for a high level of exposure
- any relevant occupational exposure standard, maximum exposure limit or similar occupational exposure limit
- the results of relevant health surveillance which should have been undertaken
- the results of any relevant monitoring detailing the affects of exposure
- in circumstances where the work will involve exposure to more than one substance hazardous to health, the risk presented by exposure to such substances in combination
- the approved classification of any biological agent
- such additional information as the employer may need in order to complete the risk assessment.
For more information on:
- Training and Information
- Joint Responsibility
- When concerned with employment around hazardous substances health and safety must be paramount.