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HAZARDOUS SUBSTANCES


PUT A HALT ON HAZARDS


Ashley Hoadley of Insurance brokers, Darwin Clayton, outlines the importance of understanding


COSHH regulations. Whilst it’s not always possible to avoid accidents, independent research commissioned by the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH) found that: “companies with line managers with the lowest level of health and safety training have an accident rate more than eight times higher than companies with the most highly trained or qualified line managers.”


Employers must conduct regular assessments to evaluate the health risks from a substance, and decide on the action needed to eliminate, reduce or control those risks. Information and training must be provided to employees, and procedures put in place for emergencies and spillages, as the impact of an incident can be far- reaching. The Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations (COSHH) 2002 requires employers to protect people from the harmful effects of hazardous substances.


WHAT IS A SUBSTANCE HAZARDOUS TO


HEALTH? Hazardous substances can


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take many forms, from materials or products containing chemicals, fumes, to nanotechnology and biological agents. It also covers germs that can lead to diseases such as leptospirosis or legionnaire’s disease.


To identify substances hazardous to health, you can check the labels of products. A substance may have been assigned a Work Exposure Limit (WEL) under the HSE Guidance EH40. Check the label on the container, which will classify substances as ‘very toxic’, ‘toxic’, ‘harmful’ ‘corrosive’ or ‘irritant’. Read the material safety data sheets (MSDSs) provided with the substances. You will also be able to use your own experience and knowledge of your health and safety processes and current best practices.


RISK PREVENTION Always try to prevent exposure at the source by avoiding a hazardous substance, substituting it for something safer. Ensure the workplace is regularly cleaned and provides the means for safe storage and disposal of substances.


For certain tasks, you may need to provide appropriate personal with protective equipment like gloves, masks and eye protection. Investment in health and safety training is essential, despite budgetary pressures, as substantial costs are at stake if something does go wrong.


COSHH ASSESSMENTS This is the process of evaluating the risks to health from a substance and deciding to eliminate, reduce or control the risks. The responsibility to carry out the assessments lies with the employer. You need to understand the regulations as well as have access to the approved code of practice and any other useful documents. All assessments should be reviewed at least every five years, and the employer will need to keep a written record of the assessment to enable it to be reviewed.


UNDERSTANDING THE


REGULATIONS Helping industries to understand changing legislation, revised health and safety regulations, and the risks that these changes introduce, is a


service that specialist insurance brokers can deliver. Darwin Clayton has secured useful information and advice from Aviva Risk Management Solutions, to help our members address a number of key risk issues.


A risk helpline enables companies working in industries such as contract cleaning to get fast, free, authoritative advice on risk-related queries. The advisers can answer questions on a variety of subjects ranging from how to comply with health and safety legislation, to how specific hazards should be managed.


Over 200 useful risk management fact sheets and templates, including hard facts about assessments relating to COSHH assessments, are free to scheme participants.


To find out more about the risk management issues which may affect you, visit www. aviva.co.uk/risksolutions/ darwin-clayton/


www.tomorrowshs.com


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