4 steps to keep COSHH simple

CoSHH (Control of Substances Hazardous to Health) is a legal requirement that every agricultural business must adhere to. When called upon by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), farms, landed estates and agri businesses must be able to demonstrate the systems and measures they have in place to control every substance that could be deemed as harmful to health.

‘It is an employer’s duty to protect the health, safety and welfare of their employees and other people who might be affected by their business. Employers must do whatever is reasonably practicable to achieve this.

This means making sure that workers and others are protected from anything that may cause harm, effectively controlling any risks to injury or health that could arise in the workplace.’ hse.gov.uk

People in the agricultural industry tend only to deem pesticides as being a substance that needs controlling, however, we must also consider naturally occurring substances such as dust that arises from cleaning out grain stores. When carrying out whacking activities there are considerations to pay to weed suppressing chemicals and the fumes produced during welding also come under the description of a hazardous substance. More substances are identified on the CoSHH and agricultural workers pages of the HSE website.

CoSHH can be a simple process, despite the fact that it is a legal requirement it doesn’t need to be implemented on every farm and every business. You just need to make sure you’ve got a competent person carrying out your risk assessments who can identify the substances that fall under the CoSHH regulations, even every substance that could potentially be on your farm.

Megan Herriot, placement student at Safety Revolution and CoSHH expert said on the subject of CoSHH, ‘I think farmers were most surprised at what substances are actually being identified under CoSHH. Not just pesticides but also taking into account the naturally occurring substances. Another thing that I think will surprise them is that CoSHH does not have to be a complicated process at all. It can just be a simple document you produce once you’ve reviewed your material safety data sheets and then come back to every year to review it and make sure it’s up to date. CoSHH really doesn’t have to be a complicated process at all.’

Megan’s simple CoSHH process

  1. Designate competent persons – two or more people responsible for conducting risk assessments and who have adequate CoSHH knowledge to identify substances
  2. Start a document – Include a list of substances and cross references to the correct CoSHH data sheet, dates of review and initials of the competent person conducting the review
  3. Conduct your risk assessment – Ensure you have all the necessary material safety data sheets, including any substances that you may bring onto site, or produce on site through other activities
  4. Review – Diarise dates to continue the reviews on an annual basis, remembering to check with the HSE for updates to material safety data sheets.

If you have any questions regarding CoSHH such as which materials should be included, or what to do if a substance doesn’t have a material safety data sheet, do get in touch with us on freephone 0800 028 1965 or email info@safetyrevoltuion.co.uk.

Megan Herriot, placement student speaking on CoSHH at LAMMA20

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