What is COSHH?
COSHH stands for the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health, and is concerned primarily with the safe handling, usage and storage of chemicals and substances that pose a danger to the health of either those handling the substances or to other people.
The main intentions of COSHH regulations are to protect the health of those employees who work with and have exposure to harmful or hazardous substances. Specifically, these are substances which are described as toxic, very toxic, corrosive, harmful or irritant, as well as those that are listed as having a workplace exposure limit (WEL).
Employers are legally required to assess the COSHH risks to employees and determine the actions required to comply with legislation and regulations. COSHH regulations and legislation forces businesses and organisations to be responsible for preventing or sufficiently limiting exposure to hazardous substances. This is done either through total avoidance (e.g. keeping workers away from waste dumps), or, if the substances form an unavoidable part of a person's job, through providing the correct personal protective equipment such as gloves, breathing apparatus etc. Employers can be fined, or even imprisoned in extreme cases, for failing to provide sufficient protection or control measures.
COSHH Risk Assessments and COSHH Substances
One of the first stages in putting into place effective COSHH procedures is to perform a COSHH risk assessment, in order to identify hazards and aim to foresee potential problems. By performing a risk assessment and identifying potential problems, it allows the organisation to put into place control measures that should hopefully prevent such a problem from becoming a reality. Whilst it is impossible to foresee and predict every conceivable accident and risk, performing a COSHH risk assessment and identifying the potential problems will greatly reduce the chances of such problems occurring.
There are many substances which are hazardous to human health, ranging from minor irritants to potential killers, depending on both the type of substance and the exposure levels. The substances can be waste products produced at the end of a process, cleaning products, dust, chemical ingredients etc. The sheer number of hazardous substances in the world means that organisations in different industries will face different hazards according to the products they produce or the services they provide. For instance, a restaurant worker will handle cleaning products, but is unlikely to come into contact with construction-related substances like a builder would, which will again differ from a car mechanic dealing with hydraulic fluid, oil etc.
COSHH Prevention or Control?
If your COSHH risk assessment determines that one or more employees in your workplace will be exposed to a hazardous substance which could have a negative impact upon their health, you should first try to prevent the exposure by substituting the hazardous substance for one which is not harmful to health if this is possible. Often, working with a harmful substance will be unavoidable and an inevitable consequence of the employee's particular job role. In this case, if avoidance is not an option, suitable control measures will need to be put in place in order to protect the employee from a dangerous level of exposure. The level of exposure that is permitted will vary greatly depending upon the particular substance or substances in question. The HSE Guidance Note EH40 Workplace Exposure Limits provides a list of harmful substances that have a workplace exposure limit.
Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and Respiratory Protective Equipment (RPE) is considered to be the final resort once all other methods of control have been assessed and deemed to be inappropriate or unsuitable.
As far as COSHH is concerned, both the employer and the employee have health and safety responsibilities when working with hazardous substances. The employer is responsible for conducting suitable and sufficient COSHH risk assessments, implementing appropriate COSHH control measures, and if deemed necessary, providing the required personal protective equipment and ensuring that it is well-maintained and in good working order. They must also ensure that employees have had suitable COSHH training, and employers must supervise and monitor the use of equipment and control measures to ensure it/they are providing sufficient protection. If they are not, changes will need to be introduced.
Whilst employers need to supervise workers, it is the responsibility of the employee themselves to actually use the equipment, and in the correct way according to the safety training they should have received. Information, instruction and training should be given to all workers on the risks associated with the particular substances that they work with, the precautions that must be taken as well as the controls and equipment that must be used.
Once the COSHH control measures have been put in place, they need to be monitored, reviewed and amended as necessary to ensure that workers are properly protected, particularly if working practices have changed. New COSHH risk assessments will need to be performed if there is a change to the previous way the substances were used, or if different hazardous substances are being created/used, as the protection that was suitable before may no longer be adequate.
In-House COSHH Courses
This variation in COSHH products makes it difficult and often impractical to run a COSHH training open course, as large parts of it will be irrelevant for the people on the course if they come from greatly differing industries. For this reason, we primarily run our COSHH courses as bespoke in-house courses, which are specifically tailored to an organisation's working environment, and the specific COSHH risks its workers face.
Many of our health and safety training courses such as the NEBOSH Environmental Certificate touch on COSHH to some extent, but for those who are serious about COSHH training for their employees, a bespoke course is really the only effective way to go. We have two COSHH courses that are occasionally offered as open courses, the details of which can be found below, however, these more often form the basis for a bespoke COSHH course which is tailored to the client's requirements.
Online COSHH Training Course
Taking approximately 2-3 hours to complete and approved by IIRSM, our COSHH e-learning course will cover issues such as the different types of hazards, COSHH risk assements and emergency planning.
There are multiple choice questions at the end of each unit. Those who successfully achieve the minimum mark required to pass these assessments are rewarded with a printable certificate.
An e-learning course is ideal for those who cannot get time away from the workplace and do not require a tailored course which deals with specific risks. If you do, then an open course or bespoke/in-house course will be much more suitable for your requirements.
Individuals looking to take this course can purchase a single user license for £15.00 + vat. Please click the link below to complete the booking form and payment online. Once we have received this we will set-up your access to the course within 24-48 hours and e-mail you your log-in details.
Multiple Licenses for Businesses
If you are a business or organisation who have a number of employees that you would like to take our manual handling online course, we offer discounts for multiple purchases, with a greater discount amount available the more courses that are purchased. The pricing and discount structure available for mutiple purchase is currently:
- 2-9 Licenses: £14.00 + vat per license
- 10-49 Licenses: £13.50 + vat per license
- 50-99 Licenses: £13.00 + vat per license
- 100+ Licenses: £12.50 + vat per license
Purchasing a business license will grant the buyer administration access from where they can issue log-in usernames and passwords to their employees.
This allows businesses to take advantage of the greater discounts on offer even if they do not currently know the names of every individual who will be taking the online course, which is particularly useful if you plan to grant access to employees over a period of time rather than all at once (e.g. getting new starters to complete the course). It also negates the need to fill in a massively long booking form with all their names when purchasing!COSHH E-Learning Course