COSHH is the law that requires employers to control substances that are hazardous to health.
Organisations can prevent or reduce workers exposure to hazardous substances by:
- finding out what the health hazards are;
- deciding how to prevent harm to health (risk assessment);
- providing control measures to reduce harm to health;
- making sure they are used;
- keeping all control measures in good working order;
- providing information, instruction and training for employees and others;
- providing monitoring and health surveillance in appropriate cases;
- planning for emergencies.
Most businesses use substances, or products that are mixtures of substances. Some processes create substances. These could cause harm to employees, contractors and other people.
Sometimes substances are easily recognised as harmful. Common substances such as paint, bleach or dust from natural materials may also be harmful.
The Control of Substances Hazardous to Health (COSHH) Regulations 2002 (as amended)7 provide the main legislation in Great Britain to protect against health risks arising from hazardous substances used at work. Under COSHH, employers have a duty to carry out a suitable and sufficient risk assessment, and take steps to ensure exposure is prevented or adequately controlled.
A detailed Approved Code of Practice and a basic COSHH essentials, are available. COSHH essentials with status of ‘guidance’ has two aspects:
- simple generic risk assessment producing advice on good control practice for common operations – ‘control guidance sheets’
- control guidance sheets for certain industry-specific tasks or processes.
Part 1: A generic risk assessment scheme
The scheme provides a practical route for selecting an appropriate Control Approach:
- general ventilation;
- engineering control – local exhaust ventilation, eg dust or vapour extraction;
Part 2: Routines for mixtures within the Internet version of COSHH essentials.