COSHH Assessments

Our COSHH assessment service will identify the substances and activities that cause harm at your organisation. Using the hierarchy of control we can then advise you on the best measures to ensure exposures to hazardous substances are controlled to an acceptable level.

The stages of an assessment are described in more detail below.

Step 1 – Collect information on substances, and working practices.

For the first stage of an assessment we identify the substances present. These could be gases, vapours, liquids, fumes, dusts, solids or micro-organisms. We then find out where these substances are used, worked on, handled and stored.

We then identify how the substances are hazardous. Whether they can be inhaled, swallowed, absorbed through the skin or eyes or injected into the body.

We then identify what effects could they have. If they have been assigned occupational exposure limits, if they are carcinogen, mutagenic, very toxic, toxic, harmful, sensitising, corrosive, irritants, toxic to reproduction or cause occupational asthma.

We find out who could be exposed and how. This can be either by looking at the different work activities and assessing the exposures in each or looking at the substances to find out where exposure is likely.

Step 2 – We evaluate the risks to health at your organisation.

The next step is to evaluate the risks to groups or to individuals.  In many cases, the risks to each individual can be found by considering groups with the same or similar working characteristics. We look at how likely exposure is to occur, how often it’s likely to occur, and what levels workers are exposed to and for how long.

From the above steps we are able to draw conclusions about the risks to health. Sometimes the conclusions are obvious, but monitoring (including monitoring of worst case conditions) can confirm that exposure is not a risk at any time.

When might exposure constitute a risk to health?

Unacceptable risk to health occurs when it is reasonably practical for it to be prevented or where it is inadequately controlled with regard to the COSHH regulations. This is often the case for carcinogens, mutagens and respirator sensitisers.

Step 3 – Complying with regulations  7-13.

COSHH Regulation 7 –  Prevention or control of exposure.

With the problem areas of exposure determined, we next help you to decide on the measures needed to control them to a safe level. The first step of this is to prioritise the risks by:

  • Determining the most serious risks.
  • Determining which risks are likely to occur the soonest.
  • Which risks can be dealt with soonest.

The most important of these are the most serious risks which should be dealt with immediately.

The next step is to work out the most suitable control measures using the Hierarchy of Control.

  • Can the exposure be prevented completely by removing the hazardous substance?
  • Can a higher level of control be attained by changing work processes or by engineering controls?,
  • Can the exposure be controlled at source for example LEV systems?
  • The last option where adequate control cannot be achieved by any of the above routes  would be the use of personal protective equipment.

COSHH Regulation 8 – Use of Control Measures.

This regulation requires employers to ensure that the controls put in place are properly used and applied and that every employee makes proper use of the controls that they have been provided with. i.e. if an employee discovers a defect with a control measure then they must report it to their employer immediately.

COSH Regulation 9 – Maintenance Examination and Testing of Controls.

This regulation requires employers to ensure that once a control measure has been put in place it is correctly maintained. There should be timetables and schedules for periodic examination and test of engineering controls and for systems that control the hazard at source such as LEV systems and also for items of respiratory protective equipment.

 Local Exhaust Ventilation (LEV) systems.

Synergy can carry out the periodic examination and test of your Local Exhaust Ventilation system. Follow the link to see details of our service. LEV Testing.

Respiratory protective equipment (RPE).

RPE should be examined at suitable intervals. Synergy can carry out the checks on your Respiratory Protective Equipment to ensure that it complies with BS EN 12021:1999. Follow the link to see details of our service. RPE Testing.

Records of examinations and test must be kept for a minimum of five years.

COSHH Regulation 10 – Workplace Exposure Monitoring.

The legal requirement for workplace exposure monitoring is given in regulation 10 (and Schedule 5) of the regulations. Monitoring is may be required if any of the following apply:

When deterioration of the control measures could result in a serious health effect. This could be because of the toxicity of the substance or because of the extent of potential exposure.

When measurement is required to ensure that a workplace exposure limit is not exceeded.

As a check on the effectiveness of any control measure provided in accordance with regulation 7 and always in the case of a substance or processes specified in Schedule 5.

When any change occurs that affects an employees’ exposure and means that adequate control of exposure is no longer being maintained. For example an increase in the quantity of substances used or a change in working practices.

Synergy can carry out this workplace exposure monitoring on your behalf. Follow the link to see details of our service. Workplace Air Monitoring.

Regulation 11 – health surveillance.

Just because there is an exposure does not mean to say that health surveillance is automatically required. If assessment is able to conclude confidently that control measures will prevent the occurrence of adverse effects, then there is little to be gained through health surveillance. However, if this confidence declines, the need for health surveillance will become progressively more important. The level of health surveillance can vary from simple record-keeping to the full participation of doctors in planned surveillance regimes.

 Regulation 12 – provision of information, instruction and training.

This is a particularly important part of the management approach to COSHH. Without the participation of employees, any measures concluded in the COSHH assessment are unlikely to be fully effective. A properly informed and trained workforce is also better able to carry out COSHH action on its own initiative, allowing some of the load to be removed from management and supervisory staff.

Synergy Environmental Solutions can carry out  a COSHH Assessment on your behalf. Call us today for an obligation free quotation.

Step 4 -Recording the assessment.

If your organisation has more than five employees, then the significant findings of the assessment must be recorded. The assessment must show why the decisions about the risks have been taken and how the decisions about control measures have been made.

Step 5 – Assessment reviews.

The assessment must be reviewed regularly, and immediately if there is reason to believe that the original assessment is no longer valid. Examples of this would be if any of the work practices change, causing an associated change in the exposure of employees to hazardous substances.

Useful Links for further Information on the requirements of COSHH Assessments.

1. HSE Guidance on COSHH.

2. Example Risk Assessments.

3. A step by step guide to COSHH assessment.

To find out more about how we can help you with your COSHH Assessments contact us now.

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