Chemical safety data sheets
Safety data sheets provide information on chemical products that help users of those chemicals to make a risk assessment. They describe the hazards the chemical presents, and give information on handling, storage and emergency measures in case of accident.
Safety data sheet information may lead to guidance appropriate for your task. By law suppliers of chemicals must provide an up to date safety data sheet if a substance is dangerous for supply.
A safety data sheet is not a risk assessment.
You should use the information it contains to help make your own assessment.
As well as receiving chemicals you may supply them to others. If you do, you must pass on information (as safety data sheets) to those whom you supply. (I mention this because we have all lent things such as beer-line cleaner to colleagues in the trade.)
You can find further information on the HSE’s web pages.
Control measures to prevent or limit exposure to hazardous substances
What is COSHH for?
The objective of COSHH is to prevent, or to adequately control, exposure to substances hazardous to health, so as to prevent ill health.
You can do this by:
- controlling procedures, e.g. ways of working, supervision and training to reduce exposure, maintenance, examination and testing of control measures
- modifying staff behaviour, making sure employees follow the control measures
- changing how often a task is undertaken, or when, or reducing the number of employees nearby, can make an improvement to exposure control
Control equipment can be general ventilation, extraction systems such as local exhaust ventilation, enclosure, or where the air cannot be cleaned, refuges and respiratory protective equipment (RPE) – the latter can be as simple as a paper mask when using power tools for sanding wood for instance or when spraying strong cleaning solutions.
Other control equipment includes spillage capture, decontamination, clean-up procedures and personal protective equipment (PPE) – such as goggles and a rubber apron when beer-line cleaning.
Ways of working
Control through ways of working includes operating procedures, supervision and training.
It includes emergency procedures, decontamination and ‘permits to work’ for tasks such as maintenance.
It also means testing all control measures regularly – equipment, ways of working and staff behaviour, to make sure that they work properly.
You should keep records of examinations, tests and repairs to equipment for at least five years. This helps to identify any trends or variations in equipment deterioration.
Where control measures are in place it is important to use them properly.
- wearing any PPE necessary
- using control equipment
- following hygiene procedures