COSHH Exposure Over Time
Unlike accidents where the impact on a person's health is immediate and easy to see, the damage caused by COSHH related substances can often be done over a period of time, with little or no obvious symptoms showing up for quite a while, sometimes when the damage is so extensive that it is irreversible. In this case, the person may have to live with the condition for the rest of their lives, or in particularly serious cases the substances may even have led to a condition which will eventually cause death.
Respiratory problems are an example of a typical condition caused by small doses of exposure to dust or harmful fumes during a person's occupation, and is a particular risk in industries like construction. During construction work, a builder who sands or knocks down an old wall or whatever may breathe in a small amount of dust and think nothing of it. This can happen over and over again for many months or even years before the cumulative effects of breathing in all this dust start to have a noticeable effect on their health. Respiratory ailments such as asthma or a persistent bad cough may then plague the person for the rest of their life. In other cases, the regular exposure to other hazardous substances like toxic fumes may lead to conditions such as various forms of cancer.
It could be said that workers are more at risk from this type of hazard than those that are considered high risk. For example, a worker who handles extremely radioactive material will not go anywhere near it without being fully protected, having all health and safety measures such as permits to work etc in place, because they know that the material can cause injury or death quickly. However, because most substances such as dust or fumes are safe in small quantities, thoughts towards health and safety are often not even considered. A similar analogy would be how some people are more likely to pull out without looking at a junction on a quiet village road when they do not expect anything to be coming the other way, than they are at a busy main road when they suspect that there is the potential for a hazard to be present (i.e. other cars are almost certain to be present).
It is often the factors which are perceived not to be a threat and are not given the attention they deserve that can cause the most damage. Just like driving, a lack of concentration or pre-determined expectation that everything will be ok can often be the most dangerous situations of all.
As well as performing sufficient and regular COSHH risk assessments, suitable health and safety training for both workers and management is vital in order to prevent occupational illness and injury from hazardous substances.
Because of the wide-ranging nature of COSHH risks according to the activities of each business, a COSHH open course would not be that practical, as it is unlikely to be totally relevant for people coming on the course with differing workplace activities and hazards. A COSHH training course is much more effective if done in-house to a group of employees from the same company.
We have two COSHH courses that are sometimes scheduled as open courses, but are more often used as a basis upon which to build a bespoke COSHH course which is tailored to your requirements and particular working environment. It can also focus more accurately on the specific COSHH regulations affecting your organisation.
Please click on the course titles below to read more about our COSHH courses.
Our COSHH Awareness training course is aimed at employees who deal with hazardous substances on a daily basis, and will give them a sound understanding of their COSHH responsibilities for controlling these hazardous substances.
Our COSHH for Managers and Supervisors course covers issues such as COSHH regulations, practical control measures, conducting a COSHH risk assessment and maintaining appropriate records.
Bespoke COSHH Training
COSHH training is most effective when run as a bespoke health and safety training course for an organisation, which is tailored to the particular substances and risks that their workers face. Attending an open course which tells your workers to store substances correctly and not to spill them is fine, but a COSHH training course which focuses on the correct storage and handling of the actual substances they use, and incorporates the firm's specific health and safety policy and operating procedures will be much more beneficial.
If you would like to discuss your COSHH training requirements with one of our expert health and safety consultants, please call us on 0844 800 3295 or contact us online by clicking the "Contact" tab at the top of the page.