What is COSHH and Why Is It Important?

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COSHH, or Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulation, is used when discussing health and safety issues; it’s a 2002 statutory instrument that helps to keep people safe in the workplace.

As health and safety consultants in London, we have many years of experience in the industry, so we know everything there is to know about this law and why it’s so important for businesses to follow it. If they don’t, they will have to pay an unlimited fine, not to mention how both the employer and the workers can be at risk if something happens.

the close-up shot of blue color hazardous dangerous chemical barrels.

What is COSHH?

So, what exactly is COSHH and what does it mean? COSHH is a set of regulations meant to protect employees from issues like illness when they work with dangerous substances and materials.

In essence, it means that the workplace has the obligation to control the degree of exposure to hazardous substances, which includes knowing where there’s the possibility for exposure, understanding how the materials are dangerous, being aware of the jobs that require exposure, and more.

Any hazardous material is included in COSHH guidelines, from liquids, solids and bacteria to fumes, fibres and nanoparticles. Certain industries and workplaces have a higher risk than others, like mines and plastic factories, but other sectors, such as construction and cleaning, can also be dangerous.

By complying with COSHH, businesses can ensure the health and safety of their staff.

The Importance of COSHH Training

Some materials and substances are easy to identify as hazardous. For example, bleach or dust from wood. However, it’s not always obvious that certain materials are dangerous, so it’s important that staff are properly trained to recognise them. Employees also need to know exactly what to do when in contact with these substances, in order to minimise the risk of injuries and illness.

COSHH regulations come with a hierarchy of measures that employers should follow. If it’s possible, you should change the task or process so that the dangerous materials aren’t used or produced; you should also replace the substance by something else if you can. If not, staff should wear protective equipment at all times and take the right steps to ensure that proper procedures are followed.

As the employer, you must stay on top of all processes to make sure they’re being followed and maintained correctly, which means your workers should be supervised and trained.

Worker cutting stone with grinder.

How to Reduce Exposure to Dangerous Materials

While avoiding exposure in the workplace may not be possible, depending on the type of work you do, keeping it to a minimum should be a priority. For example, your employees may not be able to avoid paint if you run a painting and decorating business, but they can surely wear protective gear to stay safe.

So, to cut back exposure to dangerous substances, keep in mind certain measures, including:

  • Know what the risks and hazards are.
  • Perform a risk assessment of the workplace and of the substances used, so that you can prevent issues from arising.
  • Implement measures to reduce exposure and ensure they’re followed.
  • Providing the necessary information to staff so they can work as safely as possible.
  • Ensure there’s an emergency plan in place.

The Benefits of Complying with COSHH

As mentioned, COSHH is a law, so it’s crucial that you comply with its regulations at all times. There are also many advantages to this besides avoiding a fine and keeping your employees safe.

For example, you gain a deeper understanding of health and safety requirements, which you can apply in all areas of the workplace. You’ll also see a boost in productivity because people are less likely to get injured or fall ill when they’re following the right safety measures. Also, productivity can increase because staff are using substances in a more efficient way as well.

You may notice employee morale goes up too. After all, your workers should feel safe when handling hazardous materials, so they’re more likely to have a higher degree of job satisfaction if measures are in place that are in the interest of their well-being.

When working with dangerous substances, there’s always a risk that something can happen, which often means court claims as well. You can reduce the chance of this happening by complying with COSHH.

Sanitation at factory of craft beer. Guys in protective suits disinfect at plant

How Armadillo Safety Can Help

We offer a wide range of courses for clients across many different industries, so you can be confident that we have the right training course for you and your employees. From COSHH to other health and safety training like manual handling and emergency first aid at work, we can help.

Our specialist trainers, which are qualified to degree level and fully IOSH-accredited, are able to deliver the courses at your site or at Armadillo Safety’s premises, whichever is more convenient for you. We also provide online learning; the many benefits of e-learning, such as cost-efficiency and catering to all learning styles, are worth considering when weighing your options.

Contact us today for more information and we’ll be happy to advise you further.