Is Your Facility COSHH Compliant for 2020?

The Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 2002 (COSHH) is a UK Statutory Instrument that states general requirements on employers to protect employees and other persons from the hazards of substances used at work by risk assessment, control of exposure, health surveillance and planning.

COSHH regulations are complementary to the Chemicals (Hazard Information and Packaging for Supply) Regulations 2002 (CHIPS) which require labelling of hazardous substances by suppliers.

To comply with COSHH you need to follow these eight steps:

Step 1 Assess the risks
Step 2 Decide what precautions are needed
Step 3 Prevent or adequately control exposure
Step 4 Ensure that control measures are used and maintained
Step 5 Monitor the exposure
Step 6 Carry out appropriate health surveillance
Step 7 Prepare plans and procedures to deal with accidents, incidents and emergencies
Step 8 Ensure employees are properly informed, trained and supervised

COSHH Regulations

The following Regulations 6 through 15 apply to COSHH:

Regulation 6: Risk Assessment

Regulation 6 requires that an employer not carry out work liable to expose employees to a substance hazardous to health without a risk assessment and implementation of the steps necessary to comply with the regulations. The assessment must include consideration of any information provided by the supplier of a substance (CHIPS) and must be reviewed regularly, and also when there is reason to think the assessment no longer valid, if the system of work is changed or if necessary because of the results of health monitoring.

Regulation 7: Prevention or Control of Exposure

Regulation 7 requires that an employer prevent exposure to hazardous substances of, if this is not reasonably practicable, that he adequately controls exposure.

Regulation 8: Use of Control Measures

Employers must take all reasonable steps to ensure that control measures, and any necessary equipment of facilities, are properly used or applied. Employees must use the control measures properly, return them after use and report any defective equipment.

Regulation 9: Maintenance and Testing of Control Measures

Regulation 9 requires that employers maintain control measures in efficient working order and in good repair.

Regulation 10: Monitoring exposure

Where the risk assessment indicates that workplace monitoring of exposure is necessary, the employer must perform such monitoring unless he can demonstrate another means of preventing or controlling exposure. Monitoring must be at regular intervals in addition to when a change occurs that may affect exposure. There are many methods for monitoring a persons exposure to inhalation risks, the most common is to use personal air sampling pumps.

Regulation 11: Health Surveillance

Regulation 11 requires that health surveillance of employees is carried out where:

An identifiable disease or adverse health effect may be related to the exposure
There is a "reasonable likelihood" that the disease or health effect may occur under the particular conditions of work
Valid techniques exist for detecting indications of the disease of health effect
The technique presents a low risk to the employee

Regulation 12: Information, Instruction and Training

Regulation 12 demands that all employees liable to exposure to hazardous substances are provided with suitable and sufficient information, instruction and training.

Some biological agents can cause severe human disease and be a serious hazard to employees. Further diseases may be likely to spread to the community and there may be no effective prophylaxis or treatment available. Where employees are working with such an agent, or material that may contain such an agent, they must be provided with written instructions and, if appropriate, notices must be displayed that outline the procedures for handling such an agent or material.

Regulation 13: Accidents, Incidents and Emergencies

Regulation 13 requires that employers prepare for possible accidents, incidents and emergencies involving hazardous substances by: preparing emergency procedures (including first aid), making available technical information on possible accidents and hazards, and installing alarms and other warnings and communication systems.

Regulation 14: Fumigation

Regulation 14 requires that appropriate warning notices are affixed to premises that are to be fumigated with hydrogen cyanide, phosphine or methyl bromide. In most cases, notice must be given to any harbour authority in whose area the fumigation is to take place.

Regulations 15 & 16: Exemptions

The HSE may issue certificates of exemption to certain employers so long as they are satisfied that the health and safety of workers will not be compromised. The Secretary of State for Defence may issue certificates of exemption on the grounds of national security to the UK and visiting armed forces.

COSHH Prohibited Substances

The following substances are prohibited for import into the UK and are prohibited for use:

Any substance containing free silica (such as sand)
Ground or powdered flint or quartz
Benzene (excluding motor fuels)
White phosphorus
Carbon disulphide
Hydrogen cyanide
Carbon tetrachloride
Vinylidene chloride