Many materials or substances used or created at work could damage health, says Sarah Mellor, director of Salopian Health & Safety Consultancy based in Shropshire.
These substances could be dusts, gases, fumes, liquids, gels or powders that come into contact with your eyes or skin.
Harmful substances can be present in anything from paints and cleaners to flour dust, solder fume, blood or waste. What are the hazards? Some substances can cause asthma or other diseases, including cancer.
Many can damage the skin, and some can cause serious long-term damage to the lungs. The effect can be immediate, such as dizziness or stinging eyes, or can take many years to develop, such as lung disease. Many of the long-term or chronic effects are not reversible.
What do you have to do as an employer?
The Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations (COSHH) requires you to adequately control exposure to materials that cause ill health by:
• identifying which harmful substances may be present in the workplace
• deciding how workers might be exposed to them and be harmed
• looking at what measures you have in place to prevent this harm and deciding whether you are doing enough
• providing information, instruction and training
• in appropriate cases, providing health surveillance The above actions can be systematically worked through by completing a COSHH risk assessment.
If you would like assistance in completing your assessments or if you have concerns over the substances your staff currently use or create within your workplace, then feel free to call Salopian Health & Safety Consultancy on 01743 491561.
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