Why Water Can Be Dangerous When Hazardous Substances are Involved
We have seen in the article "COSHH Training and Keeping Hazardous Substances Separate" how important it is for both the health and safety of people and that of the environment to keep certain types of hazardous substances separated and segregated in order to prevent them mixing and reacting with each other, as this could lead to an explosion or creation of even more toxic gases.
However what is often overlooked or not considered is that as well as other harmful chemicals, plain water can also cause severe and dangerous reactions with certain substances. Examples include certain acids which will result in poisonous gases such as hydrogen sulphide, and alkali metals like sodium, potassium and caesium (http://www.chemguide.co.uk/inorganic/group1/reacth2o.html).
There is therefore a risk to people's health and safety if these types of materials are present on site and somehow come into contact with water. This could occur through flooding, and is obviously a particular risk if the storage facilities are located next to a watercourse such as a lake or river.
Another common way for these materials to come into contact with water is when a fire breaks out and water is used to extinguish the flames. The resulting explosion or release of poisonous gas can put the lives and wellbeing of those tackling the blaze in jeopardy. Whilst staff members should all have received specific COSHH training and health and safety training which makes them thoroughly aware of the potential dangers regarding these dangerous materials which are present on the site, it may be the case that external fire fighters who come in to fight the fire are not aware of what materials are present.
So whilst the mixing and reactions of two or more different types of hazardous chemicals can be dangerous, it must also be remembered that for some types of materials even a reaction with water, one of the most stable and benign of substances, can result in a potentially life-threatening situation.
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.