Collected and Edited By Subroto Ghosh

Aims of the Presentation
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Outline of relevant legislation Duties under the legislation

Elements of COSHH Assessment
Developments in COSHH

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C. O. S. H. H.

Control Of Substances Hazardous to Health

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Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 Safe handling, storage & use of substances C.O.S.H.H. Regulations Expanded on the duties placed on employers


Eliminate or Reduce Risks to Health from Hazardous Substances How is this achieved?
◦ ◦ ◦ ◦ Perform risk assessments Introduction of control measures Monitor the health and exposure of employees Employees are informed, trained & supervised

AIM : To provide a safe & healthy working environment for both employees & non-employees

◦ Reasonable care for health & safety of ourselves and others ◦ Co-operate with employer ◦ Make full and proper use of control measures


Hazard – something that has the potential to cause harm, including ill health, injury etc Risk – is the likelihood that somebody or something will be harmed by the hazard

What is a Hazardous Substance?
Any substance or mixture of substances which has the potential to cause harm:  Something used directly in the workplace chemicals/cleaning materials  Something generated by a work activity ◦ Wood dust from sanding  Naturally occurring substances ◦ Biological agents e.g. tetanus

Lateral thinking

Water can be hazardous
◦ Prolonged exposure to ice can cause tissue damage ◦ Exposure to steam causes burns ◦ Excessive exposure to liquid can cause asphyxiation

Lead & Asbestos  Substances which are hazardous only because they are:

◦ Radioactive; ◦ At high pressures or extreme temperatures; ◦ Explosive or flammable properties

These have their own regulations

Identifying Hazardous Substances
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Something with a CHIP classification The Chemicals Hazards Information And Packaging for Supply Regulations
◦ Look for symbol on side of packaging ◦ CHIP is the duty of the supplier ◦ Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS)

CHIP Symbols
Explosive (can be made with ingredients found in school)  Oxidising (pool chemicals)  Extremely or highly flammable (solvents)  Toxic or very toxic (mercury)

Harmful (isocyanates)  Corrosive (acids)  Irritant (dilute acids)  Dangerous to the environment (low levels of copper can kill fish)


Material safety data sheets (MSDS)
 Should be supplied by manufacturer with any product that may cause harm

 Should have 16 sections
 Should have all the detail to aid making a satisfactory COSHH risk assessment

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1. Identification of the product 2. Composition/Information on ingredients 3. Hazards identification 4. First aid measures 5. Fire fighting measures 6. Accidental release measures

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7.Handling and Storage 8.Exposure controls/personal protection 9. Physical & chemical properties 10. Stability & reactivity 11.Toxicological information

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12.Ecological information 13.Disposal considerations 14. Transport information 15. Regulatory information 16.Other information

Identifying Hazardous Substances

Something listed in EH40 with a workplace exposure limit (WEL)
WELs have replaced the previous occupational exposure system

EH 40
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Health and Safety Executive Document OESs and MELs have become WELs

Set out in terms of 15 minute or 8 hour exposures

Workplace Exposure Limits (WEL)
New system designed to be less complex Duty on employers to carry out exposure monitoring  e.g. wood dust, cotton dust, and resin based solder fumes have WELs
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Health Effects

What effects can be produced without control? Within the body
◦ Brain/central nervous system (pesticides, mercury, lead, solvents, carbon monoxide) ◦ Blood/bone marrow (benzene)

Effects on skin
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De-fatting (detergents, solvents) Dermatitis (resins and oils)

Burns and irreversible tissue damage

Effects on respiratory system
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Eye, nose & throat irritation
◦ Acid mists & solvents

Lung damage
◦ Silica and chlorine gas

Asthma from breathing dusts and vapours
◦ e.g. wood dust, rosin solder fume, cotton dust

8 Steps to C.O.S.H.H

How do we comply with the law?

 Step 1. Assess the risk ◦ Identify hazardous substances present in the workplace ◦ Assess the risks posed by these substances

Inventory of Substances
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Something used directly in work
◦ Cleaning materials

Something generated by work activity
◦ Mixing of cleaning materials ◦ Wood dust from sanding MDF


Where do I get information from?
◦ Side of the container ◦ Material safety data sheets ◦ Health & Safety team


We need to make a judgement on how likely a substance is to cause harm.
◦ ◦ ◦ ◦ ◦ How much is used? For how long? By how many people? Is anyone else likely to be affected? What are the main exposure routes?
 Ingestion, inhalation eyes, skin?

Who Should do the Assessment?
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Employer has the legal duty Appoint a competent person to carry out the assessments in the workplace Information gathering must be at source where there is detailed knowledge of products and activities

8 Steps to C.O.S.H.H

Step 2 - Decide what precautions are needed

Must decide whether risks are significant  How?

◦ Consult safety policy or HSE guidance ◦ COSHH guidance document – risk matrix ◦ If in doubt refer to specialists

8 Steps to C.O.S.H.H
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What if there is a significant risk? Must now take action to reduce risks to an acceptable level: steps 3-8 At this point the HSE require a written assessment to be made which is periodically reviewed.

8 Steps to C.O.S.H.H.

STEP 3 -Prevent or adequately control


◦ Using a hierarchy of control measures ◦ Must consider other options before personal protective equipment (PPE)


Change a process or activity so that the hazardous substance is not needed – eliminate the hazard. For example buy in wood cut to length to eliminate wood dust exposure.


Replace a product with a safer alternative – substitution. For example use a low hazard disinfectant (no HAZARD class) rather than bleach (IRRITANT).

Adequately Control Exposure

If we can’t prevent exposure we must adequately control it, for example:

Changing work processes e.g. isolate  Reducing the number of employees exposed  Reducing the duration of exposure e.g. automatic dosing systems at pools

PPE – The Last Resort
As a last resort we can consider providing personal protective equipment e.g. face masks and protective clothing  Problems with PPE:

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Last line of defence Protects wearer only Maintenance, defects Training

8 Steps to C.O.S.H.H.

Step 4 - Ensure control measures are used and maintained
      Employees must be trained in use Employees should be able to spot faults Defects should be reported and repaired Controls must be maintained Records may be required e.g. LEV, RPE Employers must check controls are being used

8 Steps to C.O.S.H.H.
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Step 5 - Monitor exposure When might we need to do this?
◦ If assessment concludes that:
 Exposure limits might be exceeded  Control measures might not be working  There could be serious risk to health if control measures failed

8 Steps to C.O.S.H.H.

Step 6 - Carry out appropriate health surveillance
Why? To detect early signs of work-related ill health & take action on the results ◦ May apply to work involving the use of wood, solvents, solder & cotton etc

8 Steps to C.O.S.H.H.

Step 7 – Prepare plans and procedures to deal with accidents, incidents and emergencies Applies to work activities that may give rise to risks well beyond normal day-to-day work e.g.
◦ Chlorine release from swimming pool chemicals ◦ Large spillage of volatile solvents

Accidents, incidents and emergencies
Procedures must be in place to enable an appropriate response when incidents occur  Inform employees and emergency services of the emergency arrangements  Practice safety drills

8 Steps to C.O.S.H.H.

Step 8 - Ensure employees are properly informed, trained and supervised Information, instruction and training for employees should include:

The names of substances they could be exposed to and the risks created by such exposures  The main findings from your risk assessments

8 Steps to C.O.S.H.H.

Staff should have information and instruction on any control measures
◦ Their purpose ◦ How to use them ◦ Identifying & reporting faults

How to use PPE  Results of any monitoring  Emergency procedures

8 Steps to C.O.S.H.H.

Control measures will not work if:
◦ Employees do not know how to use them ◦ Do not use them properly ◦ Do not report or correct faults

Supervision is essential to ensure control measures are used
◦ Workplace inspections

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The dreaded paperwork COSHH RISK ASSESSMENTS Guidance document has been prepared Many substances and products have been approved and are on the COSHH database


What if I purchase a product not listed in the COSHH register? It must still be assessed for compliance with the COSHH Regulations A substance record sheet must be completed for entry onto the database



◦ Toilet de-scaler is available from our suppliers at £5.00 for a 2.5 litre container. ◦ someone purchases 100 x 2.5 litres from another company for £3.00 a container. ◦ What problems can you see with this?

Immediate storage problem  What is the active ingredient?  What is the concentration?  Who decides on usage and PPE?  Is it compatible with other products?  MSDS could be illegal and give misleading and possibly dangerous advice.

COSHH Database

Will include pictorial representations
◦ ◦ ◦ ◦ ◦ ◦ Hazard symbols Advice regarding safe use Engineering controls RPE & PPE First aid measures Emergency procedures

What can go wrong?
Case Law 1  Housekeeper contracted dermatitis  Rubber gloves provided but poor training  Claimed damages due to negligence

Case Law 2  Organisation failed in duties under COSHH  Employee developed occupational asthma  Over £100k in compensation

What can go wrong?
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Respiratory Protective Equipment Small hole in mask for a cigarette!! Poor training

Drain cleaner in an unlabelled bottle Caused severe burns Poor training

COSHH is a framework to protect our health and that of our clients  COSHH should follow a simple 8 step process  Your role is vital in collecting information to allow assessments to be made

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