Ensuring staff are properly trained is important for several reasons.
First, it ensures they know the correct safety procedures – to avoid exposure to harmful dust and fumes and reduce the risk of breathing and lung problems in later life.
Secondly, COSHH training means your business is compliant with health and safety regulations, as laid down by the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health laws.
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The regulations are imposed by the Health and Safety Executive in the UK. They require businesses to protect staff from harmful substances in the workplace.
Thirdly, thorough training staff also protects your business, as many workplace dusts are combustible. Ensuring employees know how to use dust and fume extraction equipment can prevent a build-up of harmful substances that can ignite or explode.
How many employees suffer health problems?
COSHH training is aimed at protecting employees from the breathing and lung problems that can prove fatal in later life. Two of the main industrial diseases suffered in the UK are COPD and asthma.
Employees can be at risk in many different sectors, such as those working with composites and welders, for example.
Any workplace that uses products or substances that can be harmful must use the appropriate dust extraction equipment, such as a downdraught bench, to remove harmful particles from the atmosphere.
Importance of COSHH training
However, it’s not enough to just provide dust and fume extraction systems. COSHH training is a vital part of the law, so your employees know the importance of good practices in the workplace.
In the UK, around 13,000 people die every year due to work-related causes, with the majority having been exposed to dust or chemicals in the workplace, according to HSE data.
In addition, 17,000 employees suffer lifelong lung and breathing problems, while 8,000 experience skin issues that either began at work or worsened due to their job.
Health and safety training ensures not only that staff understand the potential hazards of working with certain materials, but that they also follow the relevant protocol that minimises the risks of injury or illness.
It is every business’s responsibility, by law, to protect its workforce.
Workplace good practices
The Control of Substances Hazardous to Health regulations outline the essential safety procedures that must be followed in the handling, storing, using and disposing of substances that can be hazardous to health.
Various high-risk materials found in many work environments can include substances used directly in day-to-day activities such as paints, adhesives and cleaning agents. They can also include any substance generated as a result of activities, such as fumes from welding and soldering.
Naturally occurring substances, including flour and grain dust, can also be hazardous to health. In addition, workers must be protected from biological agents, such as micro-organisms and bacteria.
The law aims to minimise the risks by keeping exposure to a minimum. As well as using high quality dust and fume extraction systems, employees must also wear the appropriate PPE to prevent exposure.
The general safety procedures are relevant to many different industries and may also have specific advice, depending on the sector.
Failure to comply with the legislation and train staff properly can lead to fines for businesses and possible compensation claims, should employees fall sick because of negligence.