What is COSHH?
COSHH stands for control of substances hazardous to health. It is a health and safety initiative designed to limit the risk posed by hazardous chemicals. COSHH guidelines, which are published by the government’s Health and Safety Executive, apply to substances that have been identified as corrosive, poisonous, irritant, harmful or toxic. These guidelines recommend using a COSHH cabinet to store hazardous substances, particularly in places such as schools or facilities for mentally disabled adults, where allowing access to such products poses an extra risk to health.
What is a COSHH Cabinet?
A COSHH cabinet is designed for the safe storage of hazardous substances. It is a lockable reinforced cabinet that prevents unauthorised persons from accessing the dangerous chemicals stored within. COSHH cabinets are designed to be leak-proof to prevent spilled substances from leaking out of the cabinet or contamination of the products within.
How to Use a COSHH Cabinet
COSHH cabinets are used in a variety of locations, including schools, hospitals, science laboratories, factories and offices for the storage of cleaning products or other hazardous materials that are needed on site. Keys to the cabinet are given to trusted employees who have the responsibility of making sure that hazardous materials are safely stored within the locked cabinet when they are not in use. Every workplace should have a clear and strictly enforced policy of returning substances to the COSHH cabinet after use. A COSHH cabinet should never be left unlocked while it is unattended, particularly in environments where vulnerable individuals such as children, mentally disabled adults or animals could gain access to the cabinet.
Storing Substances in a COSHH Cabinet
Substances should be stored in the COSHH cabinet according to their storage instructions. Hazardous substances should be stored in appropriate spill-proof containers and not allowed to come into contact with each other if there is a risk of a dangerous chemical reaction occurring between them. Substances that are no longer needed or that have expired should be disposed of according to governmental regulations concerning the disposal of hazardous waste. There are regulations governing the amounts of certain substances that can be stored in a single location. Workplace managers should refer to the national HSG51 and DSEAR 2002 health and safety guidelines to find out more about the storage of hazardous substances.
Choosing a COSHH Cabinet
COSHH cabinets come in a range of shapes and sizes. It is important to choose a cabinet that is large enough to store all of the substances used in the workplace, with enough space left over to allow easy access and allow later additions to be made if necessary. Some COSHH cabinets can be fixed to the wall or floor to prevent anyone from stealing or knocking over the cabinet, whereas others are mounted on wheels to allow them to be moved around the workplace. Shelves in a COSHH cabinet should have a raised edge to prevent spilled substances from seeping down on to lower levels. Flammable substances should be stored in a fire-proof COSHH cabinet. Choosing a COSHH cabinet that meets the needs of the environment it will be used in is an essential part of ensuring a safe workplace for all employees.