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Many UK industries use hazardous chemicals to complete processes essential to their business and services. In most instances, the use of these chemicals is unavoidable, so knowing how to identify and manage the risks associated with their manufacture, supply, storage, use or disposal is essential to maintain health and safety.

Without correct management and regular risk assessment chemicals in the workplace can present a series of dangers to those working in or visiting a premises. Minor, serious and even fatal injuries may be caused by the incorrect management of chemical substances at work.

As leading personal injury solicitors in the UK, Seth Lovis & Co has helped clients with burn injury claims and other accident at work cases as employers have a responsibility to ensure hazardous substances are recognised and controlled sufficiently.

The Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 2002

The Control of Substances Hazardous to Health (COSHH) Regulations 2002 provides essential reading for employers across all industries. By law, employers are obligated to control substances that are hazardous to the health of their employees, visitors and wider members of the public.

COSHH regulations insist that:

    • All health hazards should be appropriately identified
    • Risk assessment should take place regularly to prevent harm
    • Measures should be put in place to control and reduce risk
    • Training and additional information should be provided to employees
    • Hazardous chemicals should be monitored where appropriate
    • Emergency plans should be devised and utilised

Exposure to hazardous substances is a reality that many workers face throughout their working lives; however, if employers put appropriate procedures in place to control and reduce risk, this can provide a safer working environment.

What is classed as a hazardous chemical?

Chemicals are found in many working environments, with solvents, liquid thinners, cleaning chemicals and pesticides playing a vital role in many industry sectors. Ensuring that these substances are appropriately identified, labelled and managed requires knowledge, training and commitment to risk awareness.

According to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), a substance should be correctly controlled if deemed hazardous to health. Such dangerous substances come in many forms and include chemicals, products containing chemicals, fumes, vapours, mists, dusts, nanotechnology, gases (such as asphyxiating gases) and biological agents.

Bacterium that causes disease is also classed as a hazardous chemical. Legionnaires' disease, for example, has made headlines in recent years after a series of cases arose due to the poor control measures used to keep the disease out of manufactured waterways.

Lead, asbestos and radioactive matter have separate rules and regulations.

How to reduce risk in your workplace

There are a number of measures employers must take to ensure chemical risks within the workplace are minimised and employees are protected from exposure. Workplaces at risk, regardless of their trade, must complete regular COSHH assessments to identify hazardous substances.

Safety data sheets, control measures, monitoring and health surveillance must be completed by employers to remain legally compliant, whilst employees must be given suitable training and personal protective equipment.

Procedures must also be carefully defined, documented and implementable to cope with foreseeable incidents and emergencies, such as chemical spills and workplace accidents.

What if safety is compromised?

Whilst there are various regulations regarding the identification and management of hazardous chemical substances in the workplace, incidents do occur.

If you have been involved in an accident at work involving chemicals, then you may be entitled to compensation. Call our personal injury solicitors today on 0808 252 0678 to discuss your burn injury claim.

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