COSHH Control of Substances Hazardous to health

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HSE department to implement the COSHH known as Control of Substances Hazardous to the health. Below with introduction, identification, and procedure of implementation. 
COSHH Control of Substances Hazardous to health

CONTROL OF SUBSTANCES HAZARDOUS TO HEALTH (COSHH)

Introduction

The control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 1994 applies to hazardous substances arising out of, or in conjunction with work. The regulations define in general and more specific terms how employees and the self-employed should safely manage the use of potentially harmful substances. The regulations are structured to describe a management strategy.

Hazard Identification and Risk Assessment

An assessment should be made to identify any substance hazardous to health. Before the assessment can be made, precise identification should be made to determine the relevant properties, and generally make-up of the substance, the type of hazard to health and how the substance is to be used.

This information is required so that the assessment can identify the likelihood of workers being exposed to significant amounts of the chemical.

The results of any assessments should be brought to the attention of employees, and to any other person who may be affected by the use of the substance(s).

Effect of the hazardous substance to health could be:

  1. Very toxic
  2. Toxic
  3. Harmful
  4. Irritant
  5. Substances that have Maximum Exposure Limits (MELs) or Occupational Exposure Standards (OESs)
  6. Substances that have a chronic or delayed effect (e.g. carcinogenic, mutagenic or teratogenic substances)
  7. Substantial concentrations of dust of any kind
  8. Biological agents

Substances may endanger health by being:

  1. Inhaled
  2. Ingested
  3. Absorbed or injected into the skin

Risk Checklist

The assessment of risk should consider:

  1. Particular chemical characteristics of the substance and the risks to health.
  2. The mode of entry into the body (e.g. inhalation or ingestion).
  3. The environment in which the product is being used (e.g. confined spaces).
  4. How much will be utilized?
  5. How frequent the work is.
  6. The number of people exposed.
  7. Suitable protective equipment or engineering controls.
  8. Training and information to users.

Control Measures

A system of controls should be established. This system typically follows a standard format of ELIMINATION:
  • Does the substance need to be used at all?
  • If the substance cannot be eliminated, substitute it with a less hazardous one.
  • Use of plant, process or system of work to minimize, suppress or contain the generation of the hazardous substance (e.g. enclosures).
  • Use of engineering controls to remove the hazardous substance from the working area (e.g. local exhaust ventilation).
  • Exclusion of non-essential personnel from contaminated area, not forgetting members of the public.
  • Reduction of the periods of exposure.
  • Prohibition of eating, drinking and smoking in contaminated areas.
  • Provision and maintenance of adequate welfare facilities and regular cleaning.
  • Provision of personal protective equipment, as a last resort! (See section on PPE).
Once control measures have been established and implemented, it is important to monitor their use and effectiveness, this should include:
  • Regular checks to ensure control measures are correctly used (e.g. on local exhaust ventilation).
  • Prompt remedial action where necessary.
  • Site audits and inspections to review work practices.
  • Regular inspections of PPE for correct usage, maintenance, and storage (e.g. Non-disposable respirators).
  • High standards of hygiene.
  • Systems to ensure defects and faults are reported and corrected.
It may be necessary, in some instances, to measure workers exposures:
  1. Failure or deterioration of the control measures could result in serious health effects.
  2. Identify if further controls are required.
  3. Confirm if the provided controls are adequate.
  4. Confirm compliance with occupational exposure limits.
When monitoring is required, suitable records must be maintained which provide information on:
  1. When monitoring was carried out with the results.
  2. What procedures were adopted and the duration.
  3. Location samples were taken, operations in progress and if personal sampling was undertaken, names of individuals.
  4. Records of personal exposure must be maintained for the retention period, other cases 5 years.

Occurrence of Emergency

Even with the implementation of "control measures" the risk still remains of an unintended and uncontrolled escape of a hazardous substance. Contingency plans on "emergency procedures" should be made if appropriate to deal with such an event, these emergency procedures should include:
  • First Aid provision.
  • Spillage procedures and disposal methods.
  • Personal protective equipment to be available to carry out remedial actions.
  • Persons trained in emergency procedures.

Health Surveillance

If there is a known health effect from a substance, and if there is a body change that can be measured then health surveillance is required. The type of surveillance will vary according to the effect observed.

Records of such health surveillance should be kept in a safe place from the date of the last entry. Employees have a right to inspect their medical records and know what they contain.

Other Employers, Sub-contractors or Self Employed Using Hazardous Substances
  • Each has a responsibility to carry out their own assessments to identify the potential impact of their work on others.
  • Each should ensure that the primary controlling employer is properly informed of the substances and hazards to enable the safe coordination of work.
  • The controlling company should establish overall arrangements and coordinate any necessary measures to ensure the health and safety of all concerned.

Training and Information

Information, instruction, and training of persons who use and are likely to be affected by using the hazardous substances are required. These should cover:
  • The nature and degree of risk to health including any factors that may influence that risk (e.g. smoking).
  • The control measures involved the reasons and procedure on using the substance correctly.
  • The tasks where PPE is necessary and why.
  • Monitoring procedures and results.
  • The role of health surveillance.
  • Cleaning, storage, and disposal procedures.
  • Procedures to follow in an emergency.

Employee’s Duties

  • Make full and proper use of control measures.
  • Report any defects in any control measure, whether mechanical or a system of work.
  • Maintain a high standard of personal hygiene and make proper use of welfare facilities.
  • Wear personal protective equipment, where provided in an appropriate manner.
  • Use the storage facilities, for personal protective equipment, that has been provided.
  •  Remove personal protective equipment that is likely to cause contamination before eating, drinking or smoking.

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