All employers have a legal duty to assess the health risks from skin exposure to hazardous substances at work. In part 1 of a new 4-part series on Skin Hazards, Rob Brill from 3M Technical Services explains more.
There are three different sets of acts and regulations you need to consider in respect of preventing and controlling your employees’ exposure to harmful substances:
The Health and Safety at Work Act
Your duties include ensuring that dangerous substances are used with utmost care, safe practices are followed in the workplace and that you provide free personal protective clothing or equipment where necessary. You also need to give your employees all the necessary information, instruction, training and supervision to go with the equipment.
The Control of Substances Hazardous to Health (COSHH) regulations
COSHH applies wherever there is a risk at work of health effects from hazardous substances. In the case of skin hazards this means, among other things, assessing and controlling the risk, recording the findings of the assessment if there are 5 or more employees and then monitoring the effectiveness of the controls you have put in place. In some situations like when there are dermatitis risks, for example, you may also need to carry out health surveillance.
The Personal Protective Equipment at Work Regulations
These regulations focus on the assessment and selection of suitable Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and the compatibility of one type of PPE with another.
We’ve only been able to give you a very brief outline of your legal responsibilities in this blog post. If you’d like more detailed guidance, you’ll find useful information in the guidance provided by the HSE on these requirements on their Skin at Work Website and specifically in the published documents:
3M offer an extensive selection of coveralls designed to provide protection against a range of potential skin hazards in the workplace. These coveralls offer a variety of features, from breathable panels for increased comfort to the use of fabrics with specialist treatments to repel liquids. For more information visit www.3m.co.uk/coveralls.