COSHH assessments, also known as COSHH Risk Assessments, look at the substances and activities that could cause harm to people at work. Using the hierarchy of control, we help you to choose the measures that you need to take, to make sure that you control exposure to the right level.
COSHH Assessments involves the following stages:
Step 1 – Collect information on substances and working practices.
For the first stage of COSHH Risk assessments, we look at all of the substances present in a workplace. These could be gases, vapours, liquids, fumes, dust or solids. We then find out how you use, handle and store them.
following this, we then look at how the substances are hazardous. Whether it is by inhalation, ingestion, absorption through the skin or the eyes or by injection into the body.
We then look at what effects they could have and if they have workplace exposure limits (WELs). In addition, we see if they are carcinogenic, mutagenic, toxic, harmful, if they are sensitizing, corrosive or irritants too.
We find out who is likely to be exposed and how. We do this by looking at the different work activities and assessing the exposures for each. Alternatively, we can look at the substances to find out where exposure is likely.
Step 2 – We evaluate the risks to health at your organization.
The next step of the COSHH Assessments is to look at the risks to groups or to individuals. In many cases, we find the risks to each individual by looking at similarly exposed groups. We look at how likely the exposure is to occur, how often it is likely to occur, and what level of exposure workers get and for how long.
From the above steps, we are able to work out the risks to health. Sometimes these are clear, but testing (including testing of worst-case conditions) can confirm that exposure is not a risk at any time.
When might exposure constitute an unacceptable risk to health?
An unacceptable risk to health occurs when it is reasonably practicable to prevent it from happening. This generally means that controls that are in place are not sufficient. This is often the case for carcinogens, mutagens, and respiratory sensitizers.
Step 3 – Complying with regulations 7-13.
COSHH Risk Assessments Regulation 7 – Prevention or control of exposure.
With the problem areas of exposure found, we can help you to decide on the measures that you needed to take to control them to a safe level. The first step of this is to prioritize the risks by:
- Determining which are the most serious risks.
- Determining which risks are the most likely to occur first.
- find out which risks we need to be dealing with first.
It is important to deal with the most serious risks first.
The next step is to work out what the most suitable control measures are using the Hierarchy of Control.
- Is it possible to prevent exposure completely by removing the hazardous substance?
- Will changing the substances to less hazardous ones reduce exposure?
- Is control of exposure possible at source by engineering solutions such as LEV systems?
- Will administrative controls such as reducing exposure times control exposure?
- The last option, where it is not possible to achieve adequate control by any of the above routes, would be the use of personal protective equipment.
COSHH Risk Assessments Regulation 8 – Use of Control Measures.
This means that employers have to make sure that all employees make proper use of their controls. i.e, if an employee discovers a defect with a control measure then they must report it to their employer straight away.
Regulation 9 – Maintenance Examination and Testing of Controls.
COSHH Regulation 9 requires that employers maintain a control measure once it is in place. There should be timetables to test engineering controls that control the hazard at source such as LEV systems and also for items of RPE.
Local Exhaust Ventilation (LEV) systems.
We can carry out the periodic examination and test of your LEV systems. Follow the link to see details of our service. LEV Testing.
Respiratory protective equipment (RPE).
It is important to examine RPE at suitable intervals. We can carry out the checks on your RPE to ensure that it complies with BS EN 12021:2014. Breathing Air Testing.
In addition, it is important that the Tight Fitting RPE supplied to your staff fits correctly. We can carry out Face Fit Testing for your staff to ensure this is the case.
Employers must keep records of these tests for a minimum of five years.
COSHH Risk Assessments Regulation 10 – Workplace Air Monitoring.
This, and schedule 5 give the legal requirement for workplace air testing. A company will require testing 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.
To ensure that exposures do not exceed the WELs.
As a check on how effective a control measure provided in accordance with regulation 7 is, and always in the case of a substance or processes specified in Schedule 5.
When any change is made that could affect an employees’ exposure and mean that control is no longer being maintained. For example an increase in the number of substances used or a change in working practices.
We can carry out this exposure testing on your behalf. Follow the link to see details of our service. Workplace Air Testing.
Regulation 11 – health surveillance.
Just because there is an exposure does not mean to say that you will always require health surveillance. That is to say, if COSHH assessments show that control measures will prevent the adverse effects, then health surveillance will help gain very little. However, if this confidence declines, the need for health surveillance will become 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 very important part of the management approach to COSHH Risk Assessments. Without workers participating, any measures that are in place through the COSHH assessments are unlikely to work. A properly informed and trained workforce is also able to carry out COSHH action on their own. This allows managers to remove some of the load.
We can carry out COSHH Assessments on your behalf. Call us today for an obligation free quotation.
Step 4 – Recording COSHH Risk Assessments.
If your company employs more than five people, then it is important that you record the findings of the COSHH Assessment. These records of the COSHH risk assessments must show why the decisions about the risks have been taken and how the control measures have been chosen.
Step 5 – Assessment reviews.
If there is a reason to think that the original COSHH risk assessments are no longer valid, then it is important to repeat them. Examples of this would be if any of the work practices change, causing a change in the exposure of employees.
Further information is available below
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