As the UK continues to journey through the COVID-19 pandemic, the focus now is to get our businesses and people back to work. The latest government guidance outlines the responsibility that employers have to ensure that their workplace is COVID-19 safe. In this blog, Alcumus Sypol’s in-house specialist, Mike Harris will discuss how effective COSHH management can help companies legally comply with legislation and keep their people safe during COVID-19.
For those who were maybe not aware, a coronavirus is a biological agent and therefore it falls under the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health (COSHH) regulations. Put simply, this means that employers have a legal duty to control and manage the virus as they would any other hazardous substance in their business. Adhering to the COSHH regulations is important to ensuring that your working environment is safe for your people and also, demonstrating your commitment to the legislation.
Risk assessments will need to be reviewed and created
As outlined by the government, it’s critical that you have return to work risk assessments in place and your existing assessments must be reviewed and updated in line with COVID-19. These documents demonstrate that you have assessed the situation, implemented a proportionate level of control, actioned control measures and are continuing to adapt your approach as the pandemic evolves. These assessments should consider COVID-19 and all the associated factors, including:
- Cleaning and hygiene measures
- Employee wellbeing
- Welfare facilities
- Water sources
- Social distancing
- Personal Protective Equipment
- Emergency procedures
Cleaning has never been more important
Cleaning is one of the most effective ways of controlling the spread of COVID-19. It’s highly advised that a deep clean is carried out before your workers return to work, ensuring that any contamination that may have occurred before lockdown has been eliminated.
Your business will need to adapt to a new normal, and this includes more frequent cleaning. This in in itself presents significant risks for your people because the majority of cleaning substances have a hazard classification. Cleaning products are likely to be acidic or alkaline and can be corrosive, toxic and irritating, especially when mixed together.
Hazardous cleaning substances legally require a COSHH risk assessment. These assessments can help you to control COVID-19 related risks by outlining effective controls such as PPE. All of the new cleaning substances introduced to control the spread of COVID-19 will require a COSHH assessment and you will need to review your existing assessments to ensure that they’re up to date. It’s important that your employees are trained in the safe handling and are competent is interpreting COSHH assessments. The assessments should also be visible and accessible at all times.
These robust control measures will not only provide protection of all those in the workspace, it will also help ensure their peace of mind. The majority of workers will have some level of anxiety about returning to work, with the potential of catching the virus at the forefront of their minds. By making sure that work areas are clean and giving workers clear procedures and risk assessments to follow, they will be able to function as close to normal as possible.
At Alcumus, we have been adapting and reacting quickly throughout the pandemic, our industry experts have been on hand to help our clients navigate through this challenging time. In particular, our in-house scientists at Alcumus Sypol have been busy providing COSHH advice and resources to support those industries who are directly impacted by COVID-19.
Find out how Alcumus Sypol’s COSHH management software can help you to manage and control your use of hazardous substances.