Hazardous Substances – Are You Putting Your Staff At Risk?

Hazardous Substances – Are You Putting Your Staff At Risk?

When it comes to hazardous substances and risk assessment awareness is key.

Many materials or substances used or created at work could damage health. 

These substances could be dusts, gases, fumes, liquids, gels or powders that come into contact with your eyes or skin

Harmful substances can be present in anything from paints and cleaners to flour dust, solder fume, blood or waste.

What Are The Hazards?

Some substances can cause asthma or other diseases, including cancer. Many can damage the skin, and some can cause serious long-term damage to the lungs.

The effect can be immediate, such as dizziness or stinging eyes, or can take many years to develop, such as lung disease.  Many of the long-term or chronic effects are not reversible.

What Do I Have To Do As An Employer?

The Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations (COSHH) requires you to adequately control exposure to materials that cause ill health by:

  • identifying which harmful substances may be present in the workplace
  • deciding how workers might be exposed to them and be harmed
  • looking at what measures you have in place to prevent this harm and deciding whether you are doing enough
  • providing information, instruction and training
  • in appropriate cases, providing health surveillance

The above actions can be systematically worked through by completing a COSHH risk assessment.

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If you would like any help with ensuring you comply with the COSHH Regulations, just contact us for guidance or take a Free Trial via our COSHH eLearning course by clicking here. (Just look for the symbol above for access.)

Sarah Mellor, Evolution International Ltd

5 Common Risk Assessment Mistakes – Do You Make Them?

5 Common Risk Assessment Mistakes – Do You Make Them?

The concept of risk assessment management has been around for many years.  It is alarming how many risk assessments we are asked to review which have fundamental sections missing, making the risk assessment ineffective.  Below are some common mistakes that we have come across:

1. Only Done Only For Legal Reasons

Yes they are a legal requirement for anyone who employs 5 or more employees, however they must add value and be of a benefit to your company by reducing risks and keeping your workforce safe.

2. Done From The Office

Many risk assessments are done from the office without physically assessing the area or activity.  This is when it’s highly likely that critical risks can be overlooked and therefore inadequate controls are implemented.

3. Focussing Only On Control Measures In Place

Of course you need to state what existing controls are in place, but more importantly you need to identify those controls that should be in place which aren’t.

4. No Priority Ranking

Because you need an overview of all of your risks and be able to prioritise the actions, you need to have a ranking system so high risk actions can be addressed first.

5. Not Specific To Your Company

More and more often we are seeing examples of risk assessments which have been purchased ‘off the shelf’ so companies can ‘tick the box’ stating they have risk assessments. 

However you need to remember the reason for undertaking risk assessments in the first place; to carefully examine what can go wrong in your company and what action needs to be implemented to avoid injury or ill health.  Therefore it is critical that risk assessments are suitable and sufficient ie: relevant to your company activities and specific.

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Sarah Mellor, Evolution International Ltd