COSHH Risks on a Construction Site
A construction site has the potential to have a number of COSHH (Control of Substances Hazardous to Health) risks associated with it, either from the activities taking place there, or from previous occupiers of the land or trespassers on site.
These substances which can be hazardous to health come in a variety of forms, such as dust, fumes, liquids etc. A large number of the substances used on a construction site have a COSHH risk associated with them, whether that be in the form it comes in (i.e. a chemical), or created as a result of a particular process (e.g. wood which poses no risk until it is cut and gives off a lot of dust/shavings which can be inhaled and so are now a COSHH risk to a person's health.
Solvents/fumes and dust are normally the two most common forms of COSHH dangers found on a construction site. Chemicals such as paint, glue, thinners, white spirit etc give off harmful fumes which can be hazardous to health if inhaled in specific quantities. Dust is created whenever activities such as demolishing walls, mixing cement or cutting takes place. If possible, this work should be done outside rather than in a confined space so that the dust can dissipate quickly. Asbestos dust may also be present if asbestos insulation is disturbed during demolition or renovation.
Certain types of substances have Workplace Exposure Limits (WELs), which are set legal limits that people can be exposed to. Being exposed to a concentration above these limits is extremely dangerous, as well as illegal.
The large number of COSHH hazards that may be encountered, along with the seriousness and potential damage to a person's short-term or long-term health that can be caused by harmful substances means that many health and safety training courses that are intended for construction workers such as the NEBOSH Construction Certificate now contain sections or elements devoted to COSHH and hazardous substances.
As mentioned in the opening paragraph, a COSHH risk can also be present by previous occupiers of the land or people trespassing. It is not unknown for illegal drug use to have taken place on an abandoned site or in a derelict building, meaning that workers need to be aware of the sharps risk posed by used needles or syringes which may be present and could pass-on diseases like HIV. Previous owners of the land my have left hazardous material on the site which could pose a health risk and will need to be removed and disposed of correctly.
Along with Workplace Exposure Limits, The Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 2002 are in place to protect workers from COSHH risks and force employers to take steps and appropriate precautions such as performing a suitable COSHH risk assessment.
Other Construction Courses/Links:
Bespoke COSHH Training
"COSHH training is most effective when run as a bespoke health and safety training course for an organisation, which is tailored to the particular substances and risks that their workers face. Attending an open course which tells your workers to store substances correctly and not to spill them is fine, but a COSHH training course which focuses on the correct storage and handling of the actual substances they use, and incorporates the firm's specific health and safety policy and operating procedures will be much more beneficial."
Accredited COSHH Training
As well as our own two COSHH training courses which can be tailored to your requirements, we also offer an accredited COSHH course by way of the British Safety Council (BSC) Level 2 Award in COSHH Risk Assessment. This is also primarily run as an in-house course, but because it is accredited it needs to follow a set course outline. For more details and to see the course outline, please click here.
Our COSHH Awareness training course is aimed at employees who deal with hazardous substances on a daily basis, and will give them a sound understanding of their COSHH responsibilities for controlling these hazardous substances.