What is a COSHH assessment template?
COSHH assessments come from the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health (COSHH) legislation. A COSHH Assessment focuses on hazardous materials in the workplace. There are so many different substances classified as hazardous, so it’s the responsibility of the employer to make sure employees are kept safe from them in the form of a COSHH risk assessment. This is a legal requirement that regulates how hazardous substances are used and controlled in a working environment.
Any business that uses harmful chemicals or solvents must have valid COSHH risk assessments by law. Working with chemicals, solvents, and other hazardous substances can pose a real threat to the people handling them, so without a thorough COSHH assessment in place, you could put your employees, contractors, and visitors in serious danger.
What does the COSHH assessment template cover?
Although a COSHH assessment template can be tailored for many different industries, these are the five main steps:
- Gathering the requisite information on all substances used within your business
- Thoroughly evaluating all health risks associated with the substances being used
- Using the findings of the COSHH assessment to determine an appropriate set of control measures to mitigate risk
- Implementing the control measures and recording the findings
- Monitoring performance and reviewing the COSHH assessment, making any changes necessary
From building and construction to electrical and plumbing, every industry has a different set of potential risks when it comes to substances. Therefore, choosing the right COSHH assessment template is necessary to make sure that you’re covering all bases to make sure you’re staying compliant with the regulations.
Why do I need to carry out a COSHH assessment?
COSHH regulations were introduced in 1988, following on from the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974. The regulations were introduced to offer employers guidance on protection measures for employees against harm from hazardous substances.
Any workplace is likely to have some hazardous substances that require effective management and a duty of care to ensure no harm is caused to anyone.
Assessing the impact of a substance and the harm it causes should be treated on an individual basis. If a substance is inhaled, like dust or vapours, the risks and impact associated with these hazards could take a long time to develop. COSHH legislation provides specific details for a range of substances including:
- Biological agents
- Products containing chemicals
- Asphyxiating gases
If due diligence isn’t carried out and an employee or user of your business facilities is harmed, the consequences can be huge. Depending on the severity of an incident, – cautions, improvement notices, fines, and even imprisonment in extreme scenarios are all potential outcomes. The HSE can also issue a notice for you to cease operating, so it’s imperative that your COSHH risk assessment is completed and valid to ensure you meet the guidelines.
Using your COSHH risk assessment correctly
Essentially, any substances, gases, vapours or fumes that are deemed hazardous should be covered within your COSHH assessment. Checking the labelling of hazardous substances is the best place to start, but not every substance will be labelled. Equally, hazardous substances may be a by-product of production works, and therefore can’t be labelled explicitly.
Using a tailored COSHH assessment template can help you analyse how exposure can be prevented. You could consider using alternative methods or materials depending on the nature of your work that eradicates the level of potential exposure to hazards. We know it isn’t always practical or possible to completely remove the element of risk, so control measures are required to ensure adequate harm reduction.
What are my COSHH responsibilities as an employer?
Your main responsibility as an employer is to keep your employees safe through the use of COSHH risk assessments. Consider the following factors within the COSHH assessment template and include the following points:
- Consideration of the people who may be affected or exposed
- Cleanliness and efficient procedures for swift removal of spillages
- Adequate ventilation controls, including frequent inspection and testing
- Monitoring and limiting exposure for employees through control measures, in conjunction with Workplace Exposure Limits (WELs)
- Provide suitable PPE equipment for your employees and any visitors
- Having a written record of the COSHH risk assessment – this is a legal requirement if you have five or more employees working for your business
- Frequent reviews to make any necessary changes and having a recorded document of such changes
- Appropriate training that provides the relevant information and knowledge about substances and how to work with them safely
- Procedures surrounding accidents or incidents so you can deal with any adverse events promptly and minimise the impact.
Try our free COSHH template before you buy
Our free COSHH risk assessment template is a great starting point to familiarise yourself with what the requirements are and how a COSHH assessment should be carried out. If you’d like to explore the subject of COSHH in greater detail, our extensive COSHH guide provides a deeper dive into the regulations.