Cleaning Chemicals Safety: Your Guide to the COSHH Regulations
6 February 2022
An estimated 1.6 million people in the UK are currently suffering from work-related injuries or illnesses. Unlike office workers, a field-based workforce is susceptible to more risks because their location typically changes with every job. Such diverse risk factors at each site mean that filling out risk assessments is crucial so that your workers, assets, and reputation all remain intact and protected.
Many field service companies regularly deal with chemicals or hazardous substances, which comes with its own regulations. and COSHH regulations were introduced to protect employees from ill health when dealing with dangerous materials or chemicals as part of their work activities.
In this article, we’ll take a deeper dive into the COSHH regulations. We’ll also explore how you can use technology to help keep your field service business compliant.
What are the COSHH Regulations?
Using chemicals or other hazardous substances at work can put people’s health at risk, so the law requires employers to control exposure to hazardous substances to prevent ill health.
The Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 2002 (COSHH) law was introduced to protect employees exposed to chemicals or hazardous materials at work. Uncontrolled exposure can be a significant risk to employee wellbeing, so the law requires employers to take eight steps to prevent ill health if their workers have been exposed to dangerous substances during business activities.
The eight steps outlined in the COSHH regulations are:
- Assess the risks
- Decide what precautions are needed
- Prevent or adequately control exposure
- Ensure that control measures are used and maintained
- Monitor the exposure
- Carry out appropriate health surveillance
- Prepare plans and procedures to deal with accidents, incidents and emergencies
- Ensure employees are properly informed, trained and supervised
In 2016, the Sentencing Council introduced harsher penalties for companies that fail to manage health and safety matters competently. Now, the average fine sits at an eye-watering £150,000. So if one of your employees is injured or becomes ill because of dangerous working conditions, you could find yourself involved in a legal battle that ends with a hefty fine.
Aside from fines, not following the guidelines could result in the following:
- Lost productivity to your business if engineers take sick leave
- Vulnerability to prosecution under the COSHH Regulations
- Civil claims from your employees
The COSHH guidelines cover a range of hazardous materials, including:
- Substances used directly in work activities (adhesives, paints, cleaning agents)
- Substances generated during work activities (fumes from soldering or welding)
- Naturally occurring substances (such as grain dust)
- Biological agents such as bacteria and other microorganisms (for example, COVID-19)
How Health and Safety Software Can Support Your COSHH Compliance
Adopting technology can help you be compliant with the eight COSHH steps. Here are just some of the ways you can use field service software to keep your workers safe on the job:
1. Assess the Risks and Prevent or Control Exposure
You’ll likely already be aware of the importance of risk assessments in field services. COSHH requires you to carry out a risk assessment on any job where an individual could be exposed to any of the substances mentioned earlier.
When using a field service management platform with integrated health and safety software, your workers can fill out a checklist or risk assessment form on their mobile devices. They can then highlight potential hazards, which will immediately alert your back office team.
If the worker identifies a risk, they can work with your back-office team to eliminate the danger and safely get the job back on track. As such, your employees can rest assured that they won’t sustain any health issues in carrying out the job and will also be able to complete the task at hand without significant delays.
Want to learn more about carrying out a risk assessment? Click here.
2. Ensure Control Measures are Maintained
The best field service technology providers have an asset management feature as part of their platform. All equipment, machinery, parts and safety gear are recorded on the register, so you’ll always have an up-to-date log of your stock.
When an employee is working on a potentially hazardous job, your team can assign safety gear, protective clothing, or preventative equipment directly to the job case so that the engineer can turn up with the necessary equipment to get the job done safely.
3. Prepare Plans and Procedures
A mobile field service software can help your employees carry out work safely by ensuring they don’t miss any crucial steps.
For example, you can create workflows, COSHH sheets and risk assessment forms that engineers must fill out before carrying out the work and filling in their timesheet. Mandatory safety documents ensure that all technicians stick to required plans and procedures that will ensure their safety.
4. Ensure Employees Are Properly Informed, Trained and Supervised
All your employees can stay informed when using field service technology. BigChange’s cloud-based health and safety compliance management software allows all essential documents to be readily available on the app, such as COSHH sheets, guidelines, risk assessments or job details. In addition, workers can access any training or procedures from the palm of their hand to ensure that they stay informed of all health and safety precautions wherever they are for a job.
You’ll also be able to store all your risk assessments on the cloud-based platform so that records are never lost and all employees have visibility of the documents. Whether they work out in the field or the office, your staff can find documentation regarding COSHH regulations and see how the business handled any hazards in the past to ensure compliance in the future.
Cleaning Chemicals Safety is Made Simple on BigChange
Your people are your most important asset.
BigChange gives you the power to keep your employees working safely and ensure their personal information is secure and up-to-date.
With our digital risk assessments, COSHH guidelines and PPE and equipment log, you can rest assured that health and safety are a number one priority.
Want to find out more?
Discover how BigChange can make your business grow stronger here and arrange a free demo today.
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