COSHH Risks - Limit of Knowledge
As well as short-term risks from hazardous substances (e.g. burning), many COSHH-related illnesses come as a result of long-term exposure to a substance. The cumulative effects of a small amount of exposure many times over months or years can result in a serious condition or even death.
The main problem of determining the cumulative danger of a substance is the length of time needed. The only way to truly know how a particular substance affects a human body after twenty years' of exposure is to observe a person who has been exposed for twenty years! For substances which have been around and people have had exposure to for a long time, these effects can be easily observed in a number of people. However, the introduction of a new product will mean that there is nobody out there who has been exposed to the substance for a long period of time, so the long-term risks and dangers to health will not be known. Predictions can be made based on the particular properties of the substance in question, and the similarity with other hazardous substances, but only time will tell for sure.
Further complicating the issue is that the same substance will affect different people in different ways. Factors such as body mass or age are likely to alter the way the body can cope with the substance. Also, there may not be any logical reason. For example, why do some people suffer smoking-related illnesses after only smoking for a few years, whereas others can smoke every day for their entire life and never suffer a similar condition.
This uncertainty over just how dangerous a substance is makes control difficult. Until more is known about it and the long-term health effects, it is far more preferable to be over-cautious and have too much protection than too little. Although there may be little study and knowledge regarding the specific substance, having managers and workers receive COSHH training will give them a greater understanding of the risks that hazardous substances can pose and how they can enter the body, as well as other important issues like control measures, risk assessments and safe storage of those substances which are hazardous to health and could cause harm to workers, the public or the environment if it were to escape from where it is stored.
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.