This week I will be focusing on the very important issue of COSHH and explaining what you need to know and do to stay safe and compliant.
Getting in on the act
The Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 covers the management of risks within all industries. Included in the legislation are specific guidelines that apply to the safe use of hazardous substances.
These guidelines are better known as the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health (COSHH) regulations. The law requires employers to manage and control exposure to hazardous substances to prevent ill health and by complying with COSHH regulations businesses can protect employees and other people who may be exposed.
Information at your fingertips
COSHH procedures can help responsible businesses to set measures to ensure employers, employees and the public stay safe.
Classification, Labelling and Packaging (CLP) of substances and mixtures have replaced Chemical Hazards Information and Packaging for Supply Regulations 2002 (CHIP) and now compliment the COSHH regulations and place a duty on the supplier of chemical based products to ensure customers are provided with the information they need to protect themselves, others and the environment.
Safety Data Sheets and packaging labels are also used to ensure everyone can access vital information.
Jangro provides these online and has recently launched a free online resource that will save employers time and money, and ensure they are up to date with the latest health and safety documentation.
‘Site Manager’, Jangro’s Health and Safety Compliance Solution, is available to all online customers and contains hundreds of Safety Data Sheets, COSHH risk assessments and process risk assessment documents.
Each time a new product is ordered online, the relevant compliance information will automatically be added to your dedicated Site Manager area.
In addition, links to the documents will appear on the order confirmation, saving you the time it takes to search for and download data for each individual product.
There is also the option to collate a site or company specific pack in the form of a PDF document with branded cover sheets and a contents page, which can be used for health and safety inspections and insurance purposes.
All literature is updated in line with national legislative changes and you can even set up automatic email updates to send the latest documents at regular intervals.
Safety Data Sheets – the facts
A Safety Data Sheet provides detailed information on the components contained within a product. It also identifies the associated potential hazards and provides information on first aid requirements in the event of accident.
By law a Safety Data Sheet must contain detailed information that covers 16 distinct categories:
- Identification of Substance
- Hazard Identification
- Composition and Information on Ingredients
- First Aid Measures
- Firefighting Measures
- Accidental Release Measures
- Handling and Storage
- Exposure Controls and Personal Protection
- Physical and Chemical Properties
- Stability and Reactivity
- Toxicological Information
- Ecological Information
- Disposal Considerations
- Transport Information
- Regulatory Information
- Other Important Company and Staff Information
Know the risks
Using the information listed in the Safety Data Sheet, managers must then carry out an in depth assessment of the risks associated with the individual product in the work environment and scenario it is to be used in.
A comprehensive risk assessment needs to be tailored to each company, product and situation, and should cover every single aspect of its use from its arrival onsite to it being disposed of in a responsible way.
Once this assessment has been carried out it must be decided if there is a problem with the substance being used, what risks there are to the people using or being exposed to them and how to mitigate these risks.
The basic steps include:
- Identifying the substances and consider the risks they pose to people’s health
- Deciding what precautions are needed to remove or reduce them to acceptable levels
- COSHH regulations require you to prevent exposure to substances hazardous to health if it is practicable to do so.
Where this is impossible the danger must be reduced through the use of personal protective equipment
- Sharing the information with staff, which is vital to ensure complete compliance
Once the controls have been established the regulations require employees to adhere to them and report any defects or issues.
New hazard symbols
In June 2015 the hazard symbols that appear on chemicals are being replaced with new pictograms. Orange symbols once used from CHIP regulations have now been replaced with red diamond symbols from the new CLP regulations.
Serious longer term health hazards
such as carcinogenicity and
Contains gas under pressure
Jangro is updating all labels in line with the CLP Regulation and safety data sheets will also include the new symbols and safety phrases.
All of Jangro’s labels have QR codes to get instant up-to-date access to safety data, product usage guides and support materials.
When you see this symbol scan the QR code for all of the latest, relevant information.
Knowledge is power
The most reliable way to share your findings with staff is to produce and distribute hard copies of a COSHH Risk Assessment File, which includes all Safety Data Sheets and Risk Assessments. Here are some very important points for consideration.
- It should be a comprehensive record including all products
- It should be completed by a trained person
- There should be a hard copy in every building
- All documents should be kept up to date
- Management should take full responsibility of giving information and guidance to employees
- Risk Assessment Files should be regarded as ‘living’ documents that are regularly reviewed and updated
Keeping up-to-date records and working hard to follow regulations will mean you are always working as safely as possible.
Here are some personal pointers on some other good practice do’s and don’ts to help you on your way:
All the information in the Risk Assessment File has been collated with one aim – to keep people safe while ensuring everyone understands their responsibilities.
I will be looking at some other areas of COSHH later this week on Facebook and Twitter. Stay in touch by following and liking!