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15.11.2019

What Does COSHH Mean In Cleaning

Using chemicals or hazardous substances in the workplace can cause a potential risk to your health. So, there are laws that require employers to take responsibility for the safe use of these cleaning products – and comply with these regulations.

The Health and Safety Act 1974 covers all management of risks, and within this legislation are specific guidelines to the use of hazardous substances without causing harm. And breach of these regulations is a crime, punishable by an unlimited fine.

What does COSHH mean in cleaning? Read on…

COSHH Risk Assessment in Cleaning

What does COSHH stand for? The Control of Substances Hazardous to Health. COSHH regulations 2002 requires all employers to:

  • Assess the risks that can arise from the use of hazardous substances. These COSHH assessments must also cover health and safety risks from storage, handling, or disposal of any of the substances
  • Make arrangements to deal with accidents and emergencies such as results of a serious spillage
  • Control or prevent the exposure to hazardous substances
  • Give staff the proper training, information, and instruction about the risks – and advise what precautions will be taken to minimise these risks in the form of protective clothing and guidance in the safe use of chemicals

Test of Chemicals in Laboratory

Substances in Cleaning Regarded as Hazardous to Health

Substances used in cleaning classified as dangerous to health under the Chemicals (Hazard Information and Packaging for Supply) regulations include all products containing any chemicals. Even though certain substances may be considered hazardous, when they’re used correctly the risks are significantly reduced or removed completely.

Safety Data Sheets includes information such as the properties of the chemicals, physical, health, and environment hazards, protective measures to be taken, and safety precautions for storing, transporting, and handling the chemicals.

Basic staff training for cleaners for safe handling and use of cleaning chemicals should include:

  • What the product is and how to use it
  • How to dilute any chemicals correctly with the aid of a dilution chart
  • Personal risks and potential risks to others
  • Personal protective equipment needed
  • What COSHH means and where the COSHH risk assessments are kept

All cleaning staff should be trained before any contact with the chemicals is made. And if new chemical substances are introduced any new risks must be explained – training must be ongoing, with records kept on staff personal files.

Experiment with Cleaning Chemicals

Hazard Warning Symbols

Hazard pictograms are the signs on chemical containers that make us aware of the presence of a hazardous chemical. The pictograms that are particularly relevant to the cleaning industry include:

  • Black cross – indicating the product may contain substances that are irritants and harmful, causing irritation and itching. In extreme cases, they may cause skin rashes, and fumes can cause issues with the respiratory tract
  • Skull and crossbones – this is the symbol for toxic substances which can cause chronic damage or even death if swallowed, inhaled, or absorbed through the skin
  • Flames – flammable substances are commonly associated with pressurised containers, and the propellant gases within may cause any issues
  • Exclamation mark – hard surface cleaners of any concentrate strength will have the exclamation mark
  • Liquid drips onto skin or surface – the majority of disinfectants and sanitisers carry the corrosive symbol

Establishing Good Working Practices

There are several things that can be done to prevent exposure to harmful substances. Follow these guidelines:

  • Store cleaning products safely
  • Wear protective clothing such as gloves, eye protection, and aprons
  • Keep the working environment well ventilated
  • Dry hands after proper washing to remove any contamination – when they’re constantly wet this can lead to skin irritations – and use conditioning hand creams
  • Bear in mind that some ingredients in cleaning products can cause skin allergies and respiratory issues
  • Remember that some cleaning products may be corrosive and can cause burns and damage to the eyes

Experiments with Cleaning Agents

Storing Hazardous Chemicals Safely

The COSHH definition means that employers have a strict health and safety obligation to store cleaning chemicals in a safe environment. The safety data sheet recommends storage instructions that include:

  • Securing the chemicals against unauthorised use
  • Only keeping minimal amounts of chemicals onsite
  • Ensuring chemicals are clearly and properly labelled
  • Preventing chemicals from being exposed to extremes of temperature
  • Providing adequate ventilation
  • Separating incompatible chemicals that could react dangerously together
  • Labelling shelves and cupboards to ensure chemicals are stored in the right place
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