• Chris Docherty

Introduction to COSHH

COSHH has been designed to reduce the number of people who come in contact with substances that could impact their health. In this video, I will provide an overview of COSHH, and provide a real life example of a safety-data sheet and COSHH-Assessment template, which you can download from our website and use within your company.


In this blog, we're referring to the COSHH regulations, which apply to all organisations.




COSHH: Control Of Substances Hazardous to Health.

The basic principle of these regulations is to safeguard the health of all persons who have to work with substances that may have a hazardous condition to their health. A substance can be a liquid, solid, or gas, which includes microorganisms and dust.


Six Essential Elements Of COSHH

The main elements described in the regulations is to:

  1. Ensure that you assess the risk to health arising from the work and what precautions you need to put in place.

  2. Introduce the appropriate measures to prevent or control the risk, using the hierarchy of controls where possible.

  3. Ensure by good supervision, that the control measures are used effectively, and that appropriate equipment is being maintained and procedures are followed.

  4. Monitor the exposure of your workers - you may have to carry out certain surveillance on their health using external health advisors.

  5. Inform, instruct and train employees about risks - it's not just a case of doing the COSHH assessment and keeping it in a folder.

  6. Improve where required - things change, people change and equipment changes.


COSHH Assessments

A COSHH assessment must be completed by a competent person to ascertain if:

  • Expose to a substance can be avoided

  • An alternative wok method can reduce the exposure

  • A less hazardous substance can be used instead

  • Controls can be put in place

Remember, substances that are supplied will have a warning label on them, which will outline the cautions and precautions.

How Does COSHH Apply To You?

You must adhere to the COSHH assessment, not cut corners. Always follow the correct controls that are listed within the COSHH assessment, including the use of PPE, and ensuring that the PPE is appropriate and in good condition.


Be aware of washing locations, first-aid facilities and what emergency protocols are in place. COSHH is not just in the use of hazardous substances, but it's also in the practices we follow for storing them and transporting them correctly.


If you are unsure, you should seek help, never guess what you have to do. If required, stop the job - take five to assess what is going on around you.


Safety Data Sheets

In order to understand how a COSHH assessment is generated, we firstly must understand the safety data principles associated to the substance. These can be found on the safety data sheet, provided by the supplier of that substance.


The safety data sheet describes the hazards and gives information on handling, storage, emergency measures, and first aid measures. By law, the supplier of these substances must provide this safety data sheet to us, and we must ensure that when we change our substances, we always get a copy of the updated or new revision of a safety data sheet.


One of the most important failures that organisations make is believing that the safety data sheet is their risk assessment. That's not correct - you should use the information in the safety data sheet to help make your own risk assessment, utilizing the hierarchy of controls.


Examples of Safety Data Sheets

In the video, I have shown you examples of a safety data sheet and a COSHH assessment template. Watch the video for a full run down of these, and download the COSHH Template here:

Takeaways:

  1. Collect information on substances used and work practices

  2. Evaluate the health risks to the individuals using it and those around them

  3. Select appropriate control measures to reduce or eliminate those risks

  4. Record your findings and implement your control measures

  5. Monitor the performance of people using control measures

  6. Review your assessment regularly

This was not a COSHH assessors training course. COSHH assessors training courses go into far greater detail and it's a competence that's required for people to undertake COSHH assessments in a workplace.


For more information regarding COSSH Assessments, feel free to contact us through the website.

FQM Ltd Aberdeen: 

+44 1224 628 260

FQM Ltd Glasgow: 

+44 141 212 2112

Registered Address: 

FQM Ltd, The Barn, Townfoot Farm, Glasgow, G71 7RR.

FQM Ltd Perth: 

+44 141 212 2112

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