Guidance and advice on the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 2005
The COSHH Regulations impose duties on the University to protect its staff and any other persons, whether at work or not, who may be affected by the hazards of the University's work involving substances hazardous to health, including biological agents.
The Regulations, and compliance with them, as with any other health and safety legislation, must constitute an integral part of the management system of the University’s Schools, Departments, or similar Management Units; compliance with the Regulations not only ensures compliance with the law, but will prevent incidence of ill health, ensure best working practice and will encourage the evolvement of a health and safety culture within the organisation, whereby our students will be taught by example, the best standards of health and safety.
In order to ensure compliance with the Regulations Heads of School, or similar Management Units, must ensure that work is not undertaken that is liable to expose any employees, or others, to any substance hazardous to health unless suitable and sufficient assessment of the risks created by that work has been undertaken and suitable and sufficient control measures identified and implemented so as to reduce the risk to the lowest level reasonably practicable.
The Regulations introduce eight principles of good practice that will apply regardless of whether a substance has been assigned a WEL. According to HSE, employers who do not follow these eight principles will, by implication, not be properly protecting their employees. The principles are:
The COSHH Regulations reference Workplace Exposure Limits, a full list of which can be found in EH40/2005 Workplace exposure limits (downloadable free from the HSE website), which are maximum concentrations of airbrone substances averaged over a reference period, to which employees may be exposed by inhalation. These are time-weighted averages of either long term (8hours) or short term (15 minutes).
If proper control measures are in place, no employee should be exposed to above the WEL for the substance in question.
In conjunction with WELs, EU hazard and precautionary statements should also be consulted when assessing the risk of substances.
A risk assessment must be undertaken prior to any work commencing to enable the employer to assess the risks involved and to adequately control the exposure of their employees to substances hazardous to health.
The Regulations also require that an assessment shall be reviewed regularly and forthwith if:
The purpose of an assessment is to enable a valid decision to be made about measures necessary to control substances hazardous to health arising from any work. It also enables the employer to demonstrate readily, both to himself and other persons, that all the factors pertinent to the work have been considered, and that an informed and valid judgement has been reached about the risks, and the steps that need to be taken to achieve and maintain adequate control.
The COSHH Regulations provide a framework to protect people at work against health risks that may arise from work activities that expose them to hazardous substances. The essential steps that must be taken are:
The Health and Safety Department has produced a template risk assessment form in relation to COSHH. This one form replaced the two previous forms HS1 and HS2.
Detailed guidance on completion of the form is available below.
Any exposure to biological suibstances hazardous to health must also be assessed and controlled. More guidance is available on the Biosafety Unit website.
This article was published on Apr 12, 2012