Employers are legally obligated to look after the health and well-being of their employees. This includes identifying risks in the workplace and implementing measures to mitigate those risks.
One such risk is that of hazardous substances. In such cases, you will need to ensure that you are compliant with the relevant COSHH regulations, which includes carrying out a COSHH risk assessment.
However, if you’ve never conducted one of these assessments, you may not know quite where to start. Luckily, we’ve got extensive experience in this area, which is why we’ve put together this guide to help you learn how to do a COSHH risk assessment.
What is a COSHH risk assessment?
COSHH, or Control of Substances Hazardous to Health risk assessment, is a set of guidelines that were introduced by the HSE in 1988. Its aim is to ensure that businesses working with hazardous substances do so in a safe way, thereby reducing the risk to employees’ health.
The hazardous substances as set out by COSHH include:
- Chemical-containing products
- Fumes, mists, dust and vapours
- Gases and asphyxiating gases
How to do a COSHH risk assessment
Completing a COSHH risk assessment will help you identify any risks of hazardous substances in your workplace. Any businesses where hazardous substances are present will need to complete this risk assessment. Now, if you’re new to COSHH, this may seem daunting; however, completing this risk assessment is relatively easy and straightforward.
Gather information about the substances used in your workplace
You’ll need to start your assessment by walking around your workplace and looking for any hazardous substances as well as places and jobs where there is the potential for exposure.
Evaluate the potential for health risks
Once you have identified where hazardous substances are present, you’ll need to consider the possibility of exposure, how often exposure could occur as well as the level and duration of exposure. Based on this, you’ll be able to consider whether this exposure could cause health risks to your employees.
Choose control measures that will reduce these health risks
Now that you have identified the potential for health risks, you can determine which measures and controls you could implement to reduce these risks. Not all hazards can be tackled immediately, so you will need to prioritise which health risks are most serious, deal with those and then move on from there.
When choosing control measures, consider the hierarchy of control:
- Elimination – These are the hazardous substances that should be completely eliminated from your workplace.
- Substitution – Here, you will substitute hazardous substances for less harmful alternatives.
- Isolation – In some instances, you can enclose processes or equipment where hazardous substances are present.
- Engineering – Make changes to your processes to eliminate or reduce the risk of exposure.
- Administration – You can also install signs and implement training to educate employees and prevent their risk of exposure.
- Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) – PPE, such as gloves and goggles, can help you to reduce your employees’ risk of exposure.
Implement your chosen control measures and take record
Once you have determined which risks you should work to eliminate or reduce first, as well as the measures you will use to achieve this, it’s time to implement it.
Legally, you are obligated to take a record of your COSHH assessment results if you have five or more employees. This should include information such as the hazards present, the measures you have chosen to implement as well as the reasoning behind these choices.
Conduct performance reviews
After you have identified the hazards and potential risks and also implemented the necessary measures, you will need to regularly review your COSHH assessment. This is to ensure that your control measures remain effective.
However, should you find that your current assessment is no longer valid or that the situation in your workplace has changed significantly, then you will need to conduct a review immediately.
Need a COSHH Risk Assessment?
Here at Safety Services Direct, we have extensive experience with COSHH assessments and related topics. If you need any assistance, consider using our COSHH assessment writing services. Alternatively, feel free to get in touch with us, and we’ll happily see how we can assist you.