Managing hazardous substances

Hazardous substances safety: eight top tips


There are key steps you need to follow to make sure that you're dealing with hazardous substances safely. Make sure you:

  1. Identify the hazardous substances in your workplace and the risks they pose to people's health or the environment.
  2. Decide what precautions are needed to eliminate the risks, or reduce them to a level which will protect the environment and people's health.
  3. Eliminate the hazardous substances wherever possible - if this isn't possible, control exposure to a level which will protect the health of the environment or people who could be affected.
  4. Implement control measures and ensure that they are used and maintained - make sure that everyone is consistently carrying out these procedures to avoid any risks to health.
  5. Monitor exposure - if the substances are airborne, you may need to monitor workers' exposure to ensure you comply with workplace exposure limits.
  6. Carry out appropriate health surveillance - in certain circumstances, you will have to provide medical checks for workers to ensure their health is not being damaged.
  7. Prepare plans and procedures to deal with accidents, incidents and emergencies - see how to set up a health and safety management system.
  8. Inform, train and supervise employees to help ensure their health is not damaged when using or in contact with hazardous substances.

The Health and Safety Executive of Northern Ireland (HSENI) has detailed guidance for businesses on complying with the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health (COSHH) Regulations.