Why Should Hazardous Substances be Stored Properly?
Hazardous substances are those which can affect the internal or external health and wellbeing of a person. The effect can vary greatly, ranging from minor skin irritations to having fatal consequences. A lot of attention is paid to the safe use of hazardous substances, but the correct storage of these items also forms a major component of COSHH (Control of Substances Hazardous to Health) safety.
A hazardous substance can come in a variety of forms; mainly liquids (chemicals, fluids etc.) and dust which is inhaled. These substances can be used either in the production process, as maintenance products such as oil or cleaning fluids, or as waste/by-products. It is a common misconception that only workers in heavy industry will face COSHH risks, but in reality every workplace will have hazardous substances used or stored on the premises, even if it is just the cleaning products such as bleach.
Whilst using these substances safely and correctly is of major importance, so is the correct storage. Containers need to be suitable in order to be effective (e.g. those substances which give off harmful fumes need to be stored in suitable air-tight containers to prevent the fumes escaping into the air). Many chemicals will have manufacturer's instructions and warning labels which must be strictly followed in order to prevent accidents occurring.
As well as the container, it is good practice to ensure certain chemicals or substances that can react with each other are not stored in the same location if that is practical. There are substances which are fairly harmless on their own, but when combined with others can pose much more of a threat to health.
It is also a good idea keep as low a quantity of harmful substances as possible. Although a certain amount may be needed to ensure the operation of the businesses is not impacted, the less there is of something, the less there is to clear up/contain in the event of an emergency.
Suitable COSHH training will play a key part in the safe storage and use of hazardous substances. Workers who are aware of the dangers, as well as knowing how to use the substances safely and what to do (or not to do!) to avoid accidents, will contribute towards a safe workplace where the chances of COSHH-related ill-health are minimised. Whilst risk can never be completely eliminated, the risks can be minimised to acceptable levels by making sure employees receive sufficient and regular health and safety training, as well as providing appropriate safety equipment for them to use. A COSHH risk assessment should also be performed in order to identify the hazards workers face so that steps can be taken to prevent an accident or incident occurring.
The above is just a very brief introduction to the safe storage of hazardous substances and material. The health and safety legislation and COSHH regulations are quite stringent, and will apply depending on the type of industry your organisation is in (for example, there is separate legislation in the UK for harmful substances such as oil or asbestos).
We have two COSHH courses that are sometimes run as open courses, which are listed below. However, because of the broad range of COSHH hazards and the fact that companies in different industries will work with different substances in different ways, these courses are often used as a foundation upon which to tailor a bespoke COSHH course for your employees that concentrates on their activities and specific risks.
If you would like to talk to one of our health and safety consultants in order to discuss your COSHH requirements, please call us on 0115 984 9940 or contact us online. Alternatively, our COSHH training open courses are listed below. Please click on the title to see the course outline and any scheduled dates.
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.