The CoSHH regulations cover the use and exposure to chemicals and other hazardous substances at work which are hazardous to health.
The Regulations cover substances used directly in work activities, e.g. cleaning chemicals, dairy disinfectants, fertilisers, many pesticides and veterinary medicines. They also cover fumes from welding and naturally occurring substances, such as grain and poultry dust and silo and slurry pit gases and biological agents.
What CoSHH requires
CoSHH places requirements on employers to assess and control the risks from hazardous substances.
To meet the requirements you must assess the risks to health from the hazardous substances and decide what precautions are necessary to protect employees. Exposure must be adequately controlled and reduced to a minimum if it cannot be eliminated.
Your employees must be informed, instructed and trained about the risks and the precautions needed. Also control measures must be used and properly maintained with safe working practices followed. Employees health also needs to be checked and monitored.
You should have plans in place to deal with any injuries, incidents and emergencies that should occur, such as a chemical spillage.
The first aim should be to eliminate exposure to hazardous substances. This may be possible by changing a working method or finding a safer alternative to the hazardous substance or even using it in a different form, e.g. a solid or wet alternative to a dusty powder.
If a hazardous substance must be used or exposure to it cannot be avoided then you must put in place appropriate control measures which should include, in order of priority, one or more of the following:
- Ways of working that minimise the amount of substance used or produced;
- Engineering controls;
- Remove toxic fume or dust at source;
- Minimising how long people are exposed;
- Good housekeeping to minimise accidental contact;
- Personal protective equipment;
- Good washing facilities;
- Training in the use of engineering controls, good practice, and protective equipment.
It should always be remembered that engineering controls protect both the operator and other people whereas personal protective equipment (PPE) only protects the wearer. Find out more about PPE here.
Even when all possible and necessary control exposure to hazardous substances have been taken, it is possible that some workers may still experience symptoms of ill health. This may not be immediately apparent, but only occur in later life, so health surveillance may be necessary to detect early signs of ill health.
Some of the hazardous substances that require health surveillance are:
- Dusts that may cause asthema or other long term lung disease;
- Substances such as solvents;
- Sheep dips that contain organ phosphorus compounds.
- Health surveillance could include:
- Biological or biological effect monitoring;
- Regular checks by a responsible person;
- Periodical enquiries to check that there are no symptoms of ill health;
- Monitoring the causes of sickness absence.
If you have any concerns after reading this information or would like some help with CoSHH on your farm, please get in contact with us.
Find out how you and your business is doing enough in terms of Health and Safety and Human Resources.