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Hazardous Substances guidance page 1 of 3
What is COSHH? (UK control of hazardous substances)
The COSHH regulations are about the handling of chemicals in the workplace in the UK. In essence, the controls will be similar from nation to nation depending on how hazardous substances have affected the cause of health and safety in the workplace. Often the development of a countries legislation around hazardous substances will have been influenced by significant and dangerous events occurring to its nation's people.
The UK COSHH regulations deal with protecting the employee, and therefore, by discharging their duty's the employer also protects themselves.
Hazardous substances used in the workplace will and often do cause harm to the health of employees and others not directly associated with the activities, especially if exposure control is insufficient. Exposure may cause short or long-term health problems. It may be many years before symptoms become apparent, and even more difficult to relate them to an individual's historical work activities. It never ceases to perplex the macho attitude builders have toward tasks such as cutting and drilling stone, and it's often a case of spot the face-mask. In 10-years time, it may well be a case of these men having acute lung problems.
The COSHH Regulations themselves cover a surprisingly large spectrum of substances. Many substances and materials are man-made. However, hazardous substances can occur through processes applied to inert materials, e.g., drilling, cutting operations. A few common examples are listed below.
> Oils and greases.
> Glues and adhesives.
> Paints and varnishes.
> Petrol and diesel.
> Cleaning materials.
> Sand and cement.
> Substances generated during work activities i.e. fumes from soldering and welding or dust from grinding.
> Naturally occurring substances (e.g. grain dust).
> Sewage and effluent.
> Pigeon excrement.
and many, many other substances.
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