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COSHH Overview


The COSHH (Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations) was formed in 2002 as a regulatory tool for the United Kingdom. The reasons for this instrument being in place are to help provide adequate protection for employees and staff who may come into contact with hazardous and dangerous substances in the work place. This is done through a risk assessment which will help to control and reduce exposure, monitor health of the workforce and help to create an incident plan. Many of cases concerning chemical poisoning through working with hazardous substances are recorded each year in Europe and the USA, and increasing number of these cases are affecting people in their workplace.


Everyone knows that chemicals are a dangerous and volatile substance to work with, though it is unrealistic to think that everyone can avoid them throughout their lives. People who are working in an industry that uses chemicals will have longer exposure to the chemicals and as this is the nature of their work, it is necessary to be well prepared and have control over the chemicals and understand the dangers associated with working in proximity to chemicals and hazardous substances. In response to this, the UK government brought in the COSHH regulations to help protect the workforce and as well as the employers.


COSHH helps provide information to companies and employees about the different kinds of substances and chemicals that can be hazardous to their health and what kind of dangers they entail. People need to be made aware of the long term affects that can be incurred by working with certain chemicals which they may not be told about. These mandated rules that have been implemented through COSHH allow the employee to determine the risk involved in certain tasks and whether they deem them reasonable and legal before completing them.


Once a company has evaluated the risks through an assessment done by the regulating agencies, there will generally be some hazards that remain and cannot be avoided completely. Firstly, it is important to make sure that everything the law requires has been done, after that there are human rights issues that require safe practise in the workplace around hazardous substances. It is up to the employer to make sure that the correct equipment and precaution are set up in order to reduce the risks as much as possible, as well as the welfare facilities being available for proper disposal and clean up of the chemicals after use. These are all things that will be checked during the COSHH risk assessment.


It is not a costly or time consuming problem to create proper health safety measures in the workplace, but can be a very difficult problem which can escalate into a more expensive and complicated situation if the correct measure are not put in place and kept up to date.