Use of chemicals and other substances hazardous to health

The School is required under the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health (COSHH) Regulations to have in place arrangements to assess the exposure of its employees and other persons to hazardous substances and take adequate steps to avoid or control the exposure. This requirement covers not only substances such as cleaning chemicals etc, but also exposure to dusts emitted by work processes, and biological hazards such as legionella.

For the majority of departments and services within the School, which do not use chemicals or have processes that give rise to hazardous substances, the requirements of COSHH will have little impact. However, other divisions such as Residences and Catering, Estates, Reprographics etc will have to ensure that suitable and sufficient assessments are undertaken.

Training will be provided for health and safety coordinators or other persons nominated to do COSHH assessments.

Health and safety coordinators should determine what chemicals are used or activities undertaken by their respective departments or services that may give rise to exposure to hazardous substances. Health and safety coordinators will arrange for safety data sheets to be obtained from manufacturers or suppliers of any chemicals used. The manufacturers' safety data sheets must be followed when deciding safe working procedures for the use of the chemicals.

Where possible control measures should tackle the risk at 'source', eg substituting irritant or corrosive chemicals with less harmful chemicals, replacing dust producing operations, eg vacuuming instead of dry sweeping.

The risk assessment should be used as the basis for developing safe working procedures that should set out how and when the substances will be used and stored, and how exposure will be controlled. Procedures should also detail action to be taken in the event of spillage or accidental exposures due to inhalation, digestion or splashes on the skin or eyes. The procedures should identify any personal protective equipment that may be required when using the substance, together with how the personal protective equipment will be inspected and stored.

The procedures should also identify how unwanted or waste chemicals or substances can be safely disposed of in line with the School's Environmental Policy.