Real People. Real Stories. Real Business.
Chris Bell

What is a COSHH assessment?

When you are managing the health and safety of a small business it can sometimes seem like there is a lot to keep on top of, and in many ways there are. Health and safety policies need to be developed, risk assessment carried out in addition to a wide variety of legislation that needs to be adhered to.

The COSHH (Control of Substances Hazardous to Health) Regulations (2002) are one of the main forms of legislation you need to be compliant with as a business. So how do you go about doing this? With a COSHH assessment?

How do you perform a COSHH assessment?

COSHH assessments are slightly different from standard risk assessments in that they look specifically at the prevalence and management of COSHH related substances in the workplace. These can cover anything from chemicals to biological agents. It is worth reading up on the COSHH legislation as there are some notable admissions like Asbestos.

The first step when carrying out a COSHH assessment is to identify the hazards. Take a look at what substances in your workplace are applicable under COSHH. From this, you can then work out who are exposed to the relevant dangers posed by the substances. This stage is crucial when it comes to developing a COSHH assessment that is both targeting the right hazards and safeguarding the correct workers.

The next step to take after identifying which substances are present and who are in danger from them is to assess the risks and work out what measures you are going to take to insure your workers are kept safe. The management of the risks associated with COSHH substances can cover different areas including the removal of the substance, the shielding of workers from it and the altering of the process in which the substance is used.

After you have worked out how you are going to control the substance you need to enter a process of iterative improvements. Make sure you review the COSHH assessment periodically to check if the situation has changed at all and if any subsequent change in how you manage the substance is needed.

How can I learn more about COSHH assessments?

Whilst COSHH assessments are viewed as some of the entry-level tasks for most safety professionals they are crucial to the management of the risks associated with chemical and substance exposure. Try and ensure workers are properly educated and trained on the subtleties of the COSHH regulations and are encouraged to follow them in the workplace. All these are control methods you can bring in as part of the COSHH assessment to help keep workers safe and conscious of the hazards that are present in the workplace.