It seems to be the case that suppliers increasingly tend to fail to provide a reasonable standard of information on the hazardous substances they supply. All too often the information just isn’t being updated and sent to the customer, or when it is, it’s in a format that is next to useless to the average person.
So why is this important to you? The COSHH regulations are designed to ensure you protect your workforce and others from the dangers presented by hazardous substances. Clearly, if you don’t know of the risks in the first place then how are you going to manage them properly?
Of course even when presented with information about the chemicals being used, most people tend to glaze over and think it doesn’t apply them. This is usually because hazardous substance risks are more often than not easily recognisable. Sure they are labelled and the SDS says they are toxic or harmful etc. but these are not risks that people can associate with. The damage to health is usually done over a prolonged period so people think they are not being harmed.
You probably have in place extraction systems to remove airborne particles, provide gloves to prevent contact with skin and provide suitable storage containers to keep materials safely stored. But are these controls always used and does your management enforce the use?
Only this week at a client it appeared the supervisors were the group that ignored the controls and therefore the other staff followed suit. Clearly, the idea of health risks was not properly understood and we suggested training was a good starting point to address.
It’s a fact that most people (90%) in our experience have very little appreciation of the risks of working with hazardous substances.