Reducing COSHH Exposure
When it comes to COSHH and hazardous substances, it is obviously preferable to have as little exposure as is possible in order to avoid any harm to a person's health, either short-term or long-term. Companies should not only concentrate on keeping COSHH exposure levels below the maximum limits for the particular substances, but should also actively seek to reduce the current levels of exposure. Three of the most common ways of doing this are through the reduction of quantity, the substitution of the substance with another less hazardous one, or eliminating most if not all of the danger altogether by buying pre-made ingredients.
Whilst it may seem an obvious one, it may be possible to achieve the same results but with less of the dangerous substance. For example, it may be possible to use a more dilute concentration of the substance rather than in neat form, or in the case of acids, to neutralise the solution before it passes to workers for disposal. Also, stored COSHH substances present a danger to people and the environment if they escape through leaking or as a result of a fire causing damage. By ordering smaller quantities and so then storing less, the potential and scale for harm is reduced.
Substitution with a less harmful substance
Many hazardous substances can be replaced with less dangerous ones with little to no effect on processes, quality or an increase in costs. For example, water-based products may be just as fit for purpose as solvent-based ones. From a management point of view, even if there is a slight increase in costs through using a safer substitute product, it is likely to be far less than the costs of providing personal protective equipment (PPE), as well as the potential costs of legal action and compensation claims that may arise from workers exposed to harmful substances.
Changing the form of the incoming substance
Rather than a company mixing chemicals or whatever themselves to create something, it may be possible to buy in the solution ready-made. Whilst the finished item itself might still pose a COSHH risk, it might be much less dangerous for workers if they do not have to handle many different dangerous chemicals in order to create it. It will probably cost more to buy in the substance ready-made, but again, this costs needs to be compared with the potential costs of PPE and other controls that would otherwise be needed, along with the potential for fines and compensation claims.
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.