Workplaces contain a variety of dangerous chemicals that can be found in everyday items. By law, employers must take steps to protect their staff from hazardous chemicals.
Preventing Chemical Hazards in the Workplace
Employers can reduce their workers exposure to dangerous chemicals by finding out what the health hazards are and doing a risk assessment of their workplace, as well as planning for emergencies.
Businesses should aim to reduce their usage of hazardous chemicals whenever this is possible, and make sure they have good ventilation systems in place, which can reduce the concentration of any airborne chemicals. Staff should have a good personal hygiene routine in place and there should be procedures for regular workplace cleaning. Appropriate protective clothing must be supplied where necessary and all equipment should be maintained in good working order to prevent any leaks or breakdowns that could lead to a release of toxic materials.
What is COSHH and Does it Apply to Me?
COSHH stands for the Control Of Substances Hazardous to Health. It is a regulation that ensures all employers control substances that could be hazardous to health. It makes certain that employers prevent or reduce their employees’ exposure to any hazardous substances. These include chemicals or any products that contain chemicals, fumes, dusts, vapours, mist, gases, and any biological agents that could be detrimental either to a person’s health or to the environment. Hazardous chemicals are always marked with a hazard-warning symbol on their packaging.
A chemical that is hazardous to health can be defined as any substance, which has the potential to cause harm if it is inhaled, ingested or absorbed by the skin. It covers all toxic and corrosive substances and irritants as well as dust which is present in the air at specified significant concentrations. Microorganisms which create a hazard to health are also covered by the legislation, and asphyxiating gases. COSHH does not apply to lead, asbestos or radioactive substances, as these are already covered by other regulations.
Why Use a COSHH Cabinet?
COSHH Cabinets are specifically designed not only to protect you and your staff from hazardous substances, but also to protect your business in the event of a fire at the premises. There are a wide range of COSHH cabinets available that meet regulations, from small single shelf cupboards to large cabinets, all with secure locks. COSHH cabinets are heavy duty and often come with reinforced doors, and a powder coated finish. They are specially designed to prevent leaks and contamination and will retain their structural integrity even under extreme conditions.
Flammable liquids should always be safely secured in an enclosed airtight container, and placed within a COSHH cabinet. This prevents a build up of explosive gases, and keeps the contents at a stable temperature. A serious explosion could not only be dangerous to human health, but could potentially destroy your entire business.
Hazardous chemicals can pose a serious threat to the environment and a leak of toxic substances could leave you answering questions posed by the environment agency.