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If you haven’t heard of COSHH, it means the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health (COSHH). It is about how you control access to substances that are hazardous to health. In an early years’ setting this is of critical importance. This article will outline COSHH, the regulatory framework along with training advice for early years’ leadership.

Understanding COSHH

The Control of Substances Hazardous to Health became law in 2002. It applied to the substances one finds within the workplace setting and their danger to human health. The regulation sets out a functional approach whereby leadership can prevent and control exposure through strong functional processes.

This is about understanding your early years’ setting and the impact hazards have on this environment. To better understand COSHH within your educational space, you must undertake a specific risk assessment which will lead to a defined control process.

This is an employer’s duty. Employees have the right to work in a safe environment. The 1974 Health and Safety at Work Act forces companies to provide reasonable security and safety equipment. COSHH (2002) is the evolution of the earlier Act in order to better manage the myriad of diverse hazards available in the modern workplace.

What can you do?

Prevention is key. To comply with the COSHH regulation, organisations must provide, as far as reasonably practical, the means to safely use, store and distribute substances that are hazardous to health. This means organisations to need to create systems of control and management to help comply with COSHH regulation.

Hazardous substances need to be identified. You will need to evaluate key work areas in order to discover hazardous materials. You will need to look out for the following:

  • Toxic
  • Harmful
  • Irritant
  • Corrosive

You will also have to look at the Workplace Exposure Limit and use this to help calculate the reasonable dangers of long/short-term usage on employee health outcomes.

Providing COSHH Support in the workplace

As an employee, you will need to provide COSHH training and support. The Health & Safety Executive has created COSHH Essentials. It is a direct advice sheet that provides a utilitarian approach to education and training.

COSHH Essentials can provide advice regarding exposure outcomes through the worksheet. This fact-sheets can help promote good safety, sound exposure control and clean-up. Following the HSE rules can help employers stay compliant and help keep staff safe.

The HSE provides a range of e-tools that early years’ providers can use to help understand the risk assessment process, the control process and the function of COSHH Essentials within their workplace. These resources can provide children and employees a safe space to work and play.

This article has highlighted the regulatory compliance surrounding COSHH, the importance of COSHH Essentials along with the crucial risk assessment processes designed to help promote good practice and sound working observations.

National Nursery Training COSHH Training

Our bespoke training programme can help leadership develop employee awareness and practical skills surrounding the control of substances hazardous to health. The course, available here, can help leadership understand risk and help individual employees understand good working practice. Why not get in contact with National Nursery Training today to book your COSHH training course?


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