COSHH stands for The Control of Substances Hazardous to Health regulations. Quite simply COSHH is the area of the law that requires employers to control substances to health.
What are Hazardous Substances?
Hazardous substances include both chemical and biological agents and cover a wide range of products from dust to viruses to cleaning products. These substances may be bought from a supplier or created on site through one of your work processes.
I’m an employer; how does COSHH affect me?
As an employer you are legally obliged to assess all potential hazards related to your work activity. Very importantly you are also required to prevent or adequately control the risks that are identified. If you employ 5 or more people you must also record any assessments that you undertake.
Can I just carry out a generic assessment on each substance?
Unfortunately no you can’t. Many other systems follow such an approach but for obvious reasons this doesn’t assist you in complying with the law. For example in your organisation you might mix two otherwise safe chemicals with each other resulting in hazardous fumes or the environment where you use a substance is completely different to where the manufacturer intended it to be used.
Every organisation is different and every organisation will use a substance in different ways. The key to carrying out a successful process assessment is to look at how you are using the substance in your organisation and what hazards are associated with that process. Only you are in a position to be able to do that.