Health hazards are not limited to substances labelled as hazardous. There are many materials and/or substances utilized or created in a workplace that could harm employee health. These include (but are not limited to):
- substances that you can potentially breathe in, such as dust, gases or fumes,
- those that could come into contact with your eyes or skin such as liquids, gels or powders or
- harmful micro-organisms that can cause infection, an allergic reaction or are toxic.
Such potentially harmful substances can be present in anything from paints and cleaners to flour dust, solder fume, blood or waste. They can be harmful for employees, as well as contractors, visitors or members of the public. However, health issues caused by workplace materials are preventable and many substances are quite harmless if used properly.
The law requires employers to adequately control exposure to such materials in the workplace. This is the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations (COSHH) and means:
- 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
McCann Risk Management Solutions can carry out a COSHH Assessment for your business and help you decide on control measures to help you ensure employee safety, as well as fulfil your legal requirements.