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COSHH Control Measures (HSE)


COSHH stands for control of substances hazardous to health. It acts as a legal framework designed to protect people from contact with any harmful substances. It ensures enough protection and emergency response where necessary.The regulations cover substances used in everything from small offices to huge facilities. COSHH covers whether chemicals are in a restricted area or an average household. For this purpose, COSHH defines standards per the nature of the facility. For Example, a construction site, laboratory, medical centre, or even a small household.

The list of potentially harmful things is extensive and includes everything from substances with obvious concerns like chemicals to seemingly harmless goods like paint or washing spray.

Consider any item from the following list:

  • Chemicals;

  • Fumes;

  • Dust;

  • Vapours;

  • Mists;

  • Gases;

  • Biological agents;

  • Nanotechnology;

A comprehensive COSHH assessment is for all labs that use potentially hazardous materials, but some regulations are chemical-specific. Some of them are listed below:

  • Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012;

  • Control of Lead at Work Regulations 2002;

  • Radioactive Substances Act 1993;

  • Food and Environment Protection Act 1985;

CONTROL MEASURES

There are numerous ways to manage workplace hazards, including chemical and physical ones. Keeping workers from occupational dangers is the aim of hazard control. Particular hazard-reduction techniques are more effective than others. The most efficient strategy to manage hazards is to control the source by eliminating or substituting a hazardous substance or work process with a less hazardous one. Some control strategies are more affordable than others, but they may not give the most effective means to reduce exposure.

There are five general categories of control measures listed below:

  • Elimination;

  • Substitution;

  • Engineering controls;

  • Administrative controls;

  • Personal protective equipment;

The methods usually provide a safer and healthier workplace than relying on only one.

Elimination: Remove chemicals, materials, processes, and equipment that are unnecessary to your specific job.

Substitution: Replace any necessary procedures, machinery, supplies, or other elements.

Engineering controls: These controls are designed and measured to prevent accidents or mishandling of hazardous materials in a facility. Some forms of engineering controls are as follows:

  • Isolation: Reduce or remove hazards by separation in time or space.

  • Enclosure: Place the material or process in a closed system.

  • Transportation: Move hazardous materials where fewer workers are present.

  • Guarding and shielding: Install guards to safeguard people from electrical connections or moving parts.

  • Ventilation: Use fume hoods, fans, air ducts, and air filters

Administrative controls: Administrative controls reduce a lab worker's exposure, and engineering controls aim to remove dangers. Administrative controls are the current safety regulations and procedures set up for lab employees to follow. Here are a few instances of administrative controls:

  • Checklists and standard operating procedures;

  • Training;

  • carrying out a Job Hazard Analysis before an experiment;

  • limiting how long a person spends working with a material;

  • Requiring that no one works in the lab by themselves;

Personal protective equipment: PPE is the least effective according to the hierarchy of control measures. The success of PPE depends on whether or not lab workers use it. In case other control measures fail, they should be employed.

Examples of PPE include:

  • Eye protection;

  • Protective gloves;

  • Protective footwear;

Staff training: Workers trained about COSHH protocols and standards complete protective measures. In the lab, training and supervision should be essential. After all, well-trained staff and a workplace that prioritises safety may help your lab stay happy, healthy, and productive.

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