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What is a COSHH Assessment?

chemical bottles in a laboratory.A Control of Substances Hazardous to Health (COSHH) assessment is an important health and safety document when using hazardous substances. It’s a risk assessment that identifies, reviews, and introduces control measures to minimise risks associated with using hazardous substances in any workplace. This helps protect employees, customers, the public, and the business.

The Control of Substances Hazardous to Health (COSHH) Regulations 2002 make it a legal responsibility for employers to conduct a COSHH assessment. Employers must assess risks arising from the use of hazardous substances and put in place measures to control them and deal with any accidents. Often this is whenever chemicals are used.

Use our COSHH assessment software to create unlimited COSHH risk assessments online – enjoy a free 15-day trial to see how it works. If you’re looking to learn more about these kinds of risk assessments then read on to find out what a COSHH assessment is, how it works, and what to include.

What should a COSHH risk assessment include?

A COSHH risk assessment should include important information about the hazardous substance(s) used. It also needs to cover how the associated risks will be reduced and controlled so they’re used safely in the workplace. These are the main things a COSHH risk assessment must include:

What does a COSHH risk assessment cover?

COSHH risk assessments are to cover any type of hazardous substance used in a workplace. This includes any substances harmful to human health, such as chemicals and gases. It also covers those produced during processes, like wood dust when sanding, silica dust when cutting tiles, or any fumes from welding.

Examples of hazardous substances covered by a COSHH risk assessment include:

Whose duty is it to carry out a COSHH risk assessment?

Employers have a legal responsibility to carry out a COSHH risk assessment any time harmful substances are used within their organisation. Normally the duty of conducting a COSHH risk assessment will fall to a health and safety professional working for the business. This could be an employee or a third party.

It’s the employer’s responsibility to produce a COSHH risk assessment where relevant but they might not always write it themselves. Instead, it may be the duty of a designated health and safety expert working for the company to put one together. The employer should then review and sign the document to hold up their duties.

How to do a COSHH assessment

The easiest way to do a COSHH assessment is to use our online health and safety software. You can create unlimited risk assessments covering the use of hazardous substances quickly and easily. Save time with free professional templates and 24/7 access. You can even try it for free with a 15-day trial.

If you want to create your own COSHH assessment from scratch then we’ve put together the key things to include. Follow these steps to do a COSHH assessment:

Check out a COSHH toolbox talk for more help putting together an effective assessment.

After how long should a COSHH assessment be reviewed?

You should always carry out a COSHH assessment before any work with hazardous substances starts. There’s no specific period to review a COSHH assessment but it’s recommended you conduct an annual review at the least. Reviews are important to ensure the control measures are still effective.

If you discover it’s ineffective then you should carry out a fresh assessment. You should also conduct more frequent COSHH assessment reviews when there are workplace changes, such as new staff, processes, and substances or equipment used. These can affect existing COSHH risk assessments so it’s advisable to check and update them.

What could trigger a COSHH risk assessment review?

If an accident happens involving a hazardous substance in the workplace then it will trigger a COSHH risk assessment review. This is to determine whether the control measures in place were sufficient or if more could have been done to prevent the incident. Even if it was only a minor accident the risk assessment review should outline measures to prevent it from happening again.

Creating COSHH assessments and reviewing them is quick and easy with Protecting. With our professional health and safety software you can also make risk assessments, COSHH reports, action plans, training planners, and more. You don’t need to sign up straightaway either, as you can give it a go for free. Start your free 15-day trial online today.