COSHH stands for The Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations, which is abbreviated to the acronym COSHH. COSHH is legislation that puts a duty of employers to control the use of substances which have been deemed hazardous. In other words, employers must prevent or reduce the risk from exposure to hazardous substances by conducting a COSHH risk assessment and ensuring the control measures identified are communicated to those using the product. There may also be instances when a COSHH risk assessment identifies that the risk associated with use is too great or cannot be controlled, in this case the process of use may be eliminated, or the product substituted to a less harmful substance. By following this process employers are complying to the COSHH meaning and are trying so far as reasonably practicable to control employee’s exposure to risk.
What is a COSHH risk assessment and how is it done?
When carrying out your COSHH assessment you will need to use a safety data sheet (SDS) from the chemical supplier or manufacturer. You will use the data from the SDS including COSHH symbols, to find out what the health hazards are associated with that chemical. You will consider how the product will be used and identify the control measures required to ensure the product is used safely. As part of the risk assessment process, the controls implemented will include monitoring use of the chemical, training, instruction and supervision. Under Health and Safety Legislation all risk assessments completed must be documented if the organisation employs 5 or more staff, however it is always good practice to document risk assessments no matter how many are employed, to enable understanding of the risk assessment process.
Creating a COSHH inventory
You will find a COSHH risk assessment template on the ‘risk assessment builder’ section of the Pilla Platform. This assessment tool is designed so that you can show you have considered the risk associated with each of the chemical products used in your business. This questionnaire will help you find out how whether each product is hazardous by assessing the information on the product data sheet. This questionnaire should be completed for each chemical product separately.
Carrying out a COSHH risk assessment
The second section of the tool is a more in depth COSHH risk assessment for a particular chemical product. This only needs to be completed for products which are deemed hazardous and therefore need specific control measures Further guidance on this is provided within the risk assessment builder.
A hazardous substance is a product which when used has the potential to cause harm to the user or those within the vicinity of use. To identify the hazard, there are COSHH symbols on the product, which can also be found on the safety data sheet to warn the user and the person undertaking a risk assessment, so appropriate control measures can be identified and implemented.
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