Exposure to substances that cause cancer, asthma or genetic damage in your COSHH assessment: identifying hazards and assessing risk
You are probably already aware of many risks in the pub trade. A COSHH assessment concentrates on the hazards and risks from substances in your pub.
Remember that hazards and risks are not limited to substances labelled as ‘hazardous’.
Steps to making a COSHH assessment:
- Walk around your pub. Where is there potential for exposure to substances that might be hazardous to health?
Examples include processes that emit dust (flour in large volumes for instance), fume, vapour, mist or gas (CO2 in the cellar); and skin contact with liquids (beer-line cleaning solution) and pastes (oven-cleaner).
- In what way are the substances harmful to health?
The only way to discover this information is to obtain safety data sheets on all hazardous substances and read them carefully.
- What jobs or tasks lead to exposure?
Note these down. Note down what control measures you already use. For these jobs, how likely is any harm to staff (or your) health?
- Are there any areas of concern, for example, from your Accident Book?
Examples include burns from splashes, nausea or lightheadedness from solvents, etc
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has provided specific guidance on COSHH assessment called “A step by step guide to COSHH assessment.” You can apply this to substances hazardous to health.
Safety data sheets provide information on substances that are ‘dangerous for supply’. Other substances should have instructions for safe use.
By law, your supplier must give you an up to date safety data sheet for a substance that is ‘dangerous for supply’.
You should note that just keeping a copy of the safety data sheet is not a COSHH assessment.
Workplace Exposure Limits (WEL)
What is exposure?
Exposure to a substance is uptake into the body. The exposure routes are:
- By breathing fume, dust, gas or mist
- By skin contact
- By injection into the skin
- By swallowing
Many thousands of substances are used at work but only about 500 substances have Workplace Exposure Limits (WELs) listed in “EH40 workplace exposure limits”, which is a highly technical document. Many substances you encounter in your pub will fall into these categories, beer-line cleaner, CO2 in your cellar, oven-cleaner, glass and dishwasher detergents, rinse aid … it’s the job of your supplier to provide you with adequate information about WEL.
How do I know if exposures are below the WEL?
You can only do this by monitoring. This means measuring the substance in the air that the worker breathes while the task is underway. A guidance sheet, “Exposure measurement: Air sampling G409” tells you what to expect from a competent consultant who provides monitoring services. It is extremely unlikely that any process you are involved in within your pub will warrant this type of monitoring.
What if a hazardous substance has no exposure limit, or it is mixed in a product?
You can check whether you are using the right control measures. If you are, exposures are likely to be below the WEL.