15 Jun 2017

What is COSHH? A Beginner’s Guide

Beginner’s Guide to COSHH

HSE regulations dictate that employees much be protected from any workplace hazards of potential injuries or ailments. Some industries have certain risks of their employees becoming injured from machinery, heavy falling objects and slippery surfaces. Whereas others run the risk of exposing their employees to potentially harmful substances and chemicals.

As an employer, it is important that any workplace practice must be regulated and without excessive risks. COSHH is one of the many regulations that needs to be put in place to safeguard employees in the workplace, for the benefit of employees and the business alike.


What is the purpose of COSHH?

The purpose of COSHH is to provide some kind of regulation to industries where chemicals are frequently used. The Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 2002 dictate that employers need to either prevent or reduce their workers’ exposure to substances that are hazardous to their health. Essentially, it aims to protect potentially vulnerable employees.


What is COSHH?

COSHH stands for Control of Substances Hazardous to Health. It means that any company that requires employees to work with potentially harmful chemicals needs to look into all of the ways they can prevent injury or accidents. Chemicals are rated using a universal traffic light system:

  • Green being skin safe
  • Amber being an irritant
  • Red being corrosive

Several industries use chemicals for various different things, for example changing the state of a material, cleaning something or creating new chemicals. Because of this, these industries need to take precautions to reduce any contact with chemicals that their employees may have. Clearly marked containers should be kept in separate labelled areas, such as a store room. This will ensure that all substances are grouped together correctly, minimising the risk of accidentally using the wrong strength chemicals.

How can we protect against chemicals?

It is required that any industry that uses chemicals in their day to day business, whether that is a restaurant, or a manufacturing company, must provide extensive COSHH training. The purpose of this training is so that employees can identify the severity of each chemical and knows how to control and measure their exposure to these potentially harmful substances. A business that uses chemicals should follow these steps:


  • Find our what the health hazards are
  • Draw up a risk assessment
  • Put measures in place to reduce harm
  • Keep measures in good working order
  • Provide information and further training if required
  • Plan for emergencies


Other Ways Industries Can Prevent Any Harm From Chemicals

Following the COSHH guidelines is a great way to ensure your employees are kept safe in their daily tasks. However, there are even more ways to prevent harm from chemical use.

Providing PPE

Protective gloves, aprons and eyewear must be provided in order to reduce contact to corrosive chemicals. As well as this, eye wash stations and chemical wash stations must be installed in the case of any emergencies. There are certain procedures that must be followed depending on the chemical and the severity of any workplace incident involving chemicals.

Ventilate Properly

Providing the correct ventilation systems is one of the most important factors for industries that use chemicals. Correct ventilation will allow the flow of fresh clean air into the building and will remove the harmful toxins that become airborne. Stainless steel ducting is non-corrosive and will therefore not react with any chemical that becomes airborne during every day processes. This will prevent any ongoing health problems for employees or accidents in the workplace.

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