In this article, we’ve looked into who’s responsible for completing a COSHH risk assessment and how often they should be completed? In the Health and Safety Executive’s (HSE) literature, that a COSHH risk assessor should be a ‘competent’ person, but who meets these criteria?
What is a COSHH Risk Assessment?
A COSHH assessment focuses on the hazards and risks from hazardous substances in your workplace. However, not all health hazards come from substances that are labelled as hazardous. Some harmful substances are produced from a process, for example, wood dust is generated from sanding or silica dust from tile cutting.
Is a COSHH Assessment a Legal Requirement?
The HSE advises that hazards are identified and the risks to health that stem from the hazards are accurately and regularly assessed. In the COSHH (Control of Substances Hazardous to Health) Regulations 2002, it stipulates that employers are responsible to control substances within the business. Subsequently; it is the manager’s responsibility to decide who will become the relevant workplace COSHH risk assessment assessor.
Identifying The Risks and Hazards – Workplace Exposure Limits
HSE’s ‘EH40/2005 (Workplace exposure limits)‘ guidance was updated in 2020, with new substances added to the WELs list. Find out about the updated guidance, in our ‘What are Substance WELs (Workplace Exposure Limits)?‘ article.
You can find HSE’s guidance on how to perform a COSHH assessment, in their ‘Identifying Hazards and Assessing Risk‘ guidance.
Common Substances Which are Hazardous to Health
- Products containing chemicals
- Gases and asphyxiating gases
- Biological agents
Identify Who is or Might be Exposed
The best way to determine who might be exposed to airborne contaminants is to consider each working activity in your workplace, and then, in turn, identify each exposure. There may be a number of different groups of people in your workplace who may be exposed which you may not have considered, these may include:
- Supervisors and managers
- Cleaning and maintenance staff
- Office workers
- People residing or working in the vicinity
By identifying who may be exposed, you can then begin to reduce the risk of exposure to hazardous substances. Control measures, such as LEV systems will help prevent exposure and lower the level of risk.
COSHH Assessment Training
There are no specific training courses that are specified in becoming a ‘competent’ COSHH risk assessment assessor. However, there are a number of risk assessment courses available that cover these basic principles.
An employer should assess an employee’s work experience and training records before choosing a competent person to perform part of their daily responsibilities. It’s essential that the chosen candidate should have the minimum knowledge required and an understanding of the operations and substances being assessed.
Who is responsible for COSHH assessments?
The competent person responsible does not need to be an expert or be a consultant in the COSHH field. A group of employees could also make up a ‘competent’ team with each member concentrating on their own specialism. However, it is important that the competent person recognises their own limitations and should know when to request expert advice from alternate sources.
The ‘competent’ person should know how to:
- Understand hazard and risk
- Evaluate how the work can expose people to substances hazardous to health
- Collect all the relevant information
- Make the correct decisions in regard to controlling exposure
What is a COSHH risk assessment?
A competent person should be nominated who’s happy to accept the responsibility of becoming involved in becoming a COSHH assessor for the business. It’s imperative that regular assessments are completed on a regular basis to monitor various controls within the business’s operations. Should legal action arise from the COSHH risk assessment then this would usually be taken against the employer as opposed to the competent assessor.
How to Carry Out a COSHH Assessment? – A Step-by-Step Guides
We have developed ‘The 7 Essential Elements of COSHH [Infographic]’ to assist the nominated risk assessors complete regular assessments. The infographic goes through through the steps
Get a FREE Local Exhaust Ventilation (LEV) Assessment
After you’ve completed your COSHH assessment and if you want to ensure dust and fumes are being adequately controlled. Get in touch with us today to arrange a free LEV site assessment and no-obligation quotations.
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