Managing COSHH in Schools

What is COSHH?

The Control of Substances Hazardous to Health (COSHH) is a set of regulations that were initially created in 1999. COSHH directives legally require employers to exercise control concerning exposure to hazardous substances and prevent ill health on their premises. Special steps must be taken to ensure that COSHH regulations are adhered to in education establishments, management can reduce or prevent exposure to harmful substances by:

  • Undertaking a COSHH risk assessment.
  • Fully investigating all potential health hazards on the school site.
  • Making sure that these measures are implemented by appropriate staff.
  • Publishing control measures to prevent risk and harm to health.
  • Ensuring that all control measures are efficient and in good working order.
  • Providing training, information, and instructions for appropriate employees.
  • Making sure that there is a plan in place for emergencies.

Almost all organisations use harmful substances in one form or another, they could be chemicals used for cleaning, specks of dust, gases, fumes, liquids, or powders. Specific processes can create harmful substances by way of a chemical reaction, and these secondary substances can cause harm to students, employees, contractors, or school visitors.

COSHH assessments must be carried out by law if your place of work uses any harmful substances. Following the COSHH assessment a COSHH Register would usually be developed and kept update to by a responsible person in order to best manage the safety of the school.

Typical COSHH Hazards in Schools

Some examples of typical COSHH hazards found in schools are:

  • Cleaning Fluids
  • Solvents
  • Degreasers
  • Detergents
  • Petrol
  • Varnishes, Glues, Paints
  • Other Harmful susbstances

Who should undergo COSHH training?

All school managerial staff should undergo COSHH training, as well as cleaners, art teachers, and design and technology staff. Additionally, any team members that work with storing, using, or managing hazardous substances are legally required to be fully-trained around COSHH compliance.

We hope that this guide has answered all of your questions surrounding COSHH requirements in schools. Remember, COSHH is a legal obligation and is an important factor in managing the overall safety in your school. Failure to comply with COSHH regulations in schools across the UK can result in significant fines and prosecution. If your school fails to control hazardous substances adequately, pupils and employees could become seriously ill. Effects from such substances can range from eye irritation and skin problems through to chronic lung conditions and death. For these reasons, COSHH legislation must be taken seriously.

Not only do COSHH guidelines provide a safety net around the use of harmful substances, but they also offer protection and prevent unnecessary accidents from occurring. COSHH is essential for ensuring that all pupils, staff, and visitors to the school are safe and protected at all times.

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