Be honest now. Some regulations can feel like a drag – bureaucratic hoops that you’re forced to jump through. The Control of Substances Hazardous to Health (COSHH) regulations are not like that though – rather, they are a vital and in some cases lifesaving necessity for all businesses. After all, COSHH covers hazardous substances that come in a variety of forms, including dusts, liquids, vapours and mists which can enter the body when least expected through inhalation, ingestion or absorption through the skin.
These different forms cover so many substances, that a worker in virtually every industry will encounter a COSHH risk to some extent whilst in their job role! With that in mind, we’ve put together 9 reasons why you should learn to love and meet your COSHH obligations to make life that little bit easier:
#1 Leave no stone unturned
By conducting a robust COSHH risk assessment, you’ll identify substances that might not have initially been on your radar as hazardous and understand why they’re hazardous. This’ll ensure that people aren’t unknowingly exposed to hazardous substances which, we’re sure goes without saying, improves their workplace safety.
#2 The right tool for the job
The COSHH risk assessment process will encourage you to really look at the chemicals you’re currently using and assess whether or not they’re the best agent for the job, or if they could be replaced with something less hazardous.
#3 The big picture
Being compliant with COSHH means evaluating the long and short-term effects of the chemicals you’re using. So, why’s this so important? Because taking a step back and looking at how certain products you’re using could negatively impact employees, will give you a nudge to actually do something about the risks.
#4 Assess your adequacy
COSHH forces you to make sure the controls you have in place are adequate – this includes things like Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), Respiratory Protective Equipment (RPE), first aid provision and emergency procedures. Ensuring all of these are suitable makes for an all-round safer workplace for employees, visitors and members of the public.
Although COSHH encompasses all hazardous substances, some chemicals will have additional, specific guidance that your processes must follow to keep compliant. For example, some waste substances cannot be dumped into public drains, because they could have an adverse effect on the water system.
Keeping up with your COSHH responsibilities will uncover these extra rules and regulations, adding an added layer of safety around your business.
#6 From start to finish
COSHH doesn’t just apply to when hazardous substances are in use, it covers their storage and transportation too. By taking a 3600 look at how your substances are handled from start to finish, you’ll be adhering to the highest safety standards at every stage, and minimising the risk of potential accidents.
#8 Avoid mixing
Some substances might be harmless alone, but might be hazardous when combined with something else. COSHH risk assessments will help you to uncover these potentially dangerous combinations, and give you an understanding of what reactions could occur if they are mixed.
#9 HSE friendly
COSHH is a hot topic for the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and no-one wants to get on the wrong side of them! Keeping on top of COSHH will keep the HSE off your heels, saving you time dealing with potential enforcement.