Flammable Chemicals in Protection Cabinet


The Control of Substances Hazardous to Health (COSHH) is a fundamental UK regulation that governs the handling, storage and disposal of hazardous substances. For the engineering and manufacturing industries, where the use of chemicals and hazardous materials is commonplace, understanding and complying with COSHH is not merely a legal obligation but a critical aspect of operational safety and efficiency.

This article delves into the intricacies of COSHH, exploring what it represents, why it is of paramount importance to the engineering and manufacturing industries, and how compliance with these regulations shapes the safety and success of businesses within these sectors.

Responsibilities of employers

COSHH regulations protect individuals and the environment from potential harm caused by hazardous substances. The regulations stipulate specific requirements for assessing risks, implementing control measures and ensuring proper training and emergency planning. Adherence to these regulations is not only a legal necessity but also a vital part of responsible business practice.

Employers’ responsibilities include conducting thorough risk assessments to identify potential hazards, implementing appropriate control measures to mitigate risks, providing comprehensive training to employees and establishing robust emergency plans. These responsibilities are tailored to the unique risks associated with the handling of hazardous substances in these industries, reflecting the complexity and potential dangers involved.

Hazardous storage cabinet in a warehouse where dangerous and flammable products can be stored safely

Importance of COSHH compliance

The potential risks and consequences of non-compliance are severe, ranging from health risks to employees through exposure to harmful substances, to legal penalties, and even potential damage to equipment and the environment. The intricate nature of engineering and manufacturing processes often involves the use of substances that, if mishandled, can have catastrophic effects. Therefore, adhering to COSHH is not merely a regulatory requirement but a fundamental aspect of operational integrity.

Implementing COSHH in the engineering and manufacturing sectors requires a practical and methodical approach. This includes proper storage – which means using COSHH cabinets – labelling, disposal methods for hazardous substances, regular monitoring and review of control measures, and ongoing training for staff.

Adherence to these regulations ensures that proper safety measures are in place. For example, in a manufacturing plant that uses toxic chemicals, following COSHH guidelines ensures that proper ventilation, protective equipment and handling procedures are implemented. This not only reduces the risk of accidents but also fosters a safer working environment for employees.

COSHH compliance also plays a vital role in reputation management. Companies known for their commitment to safety regulations, including COSHH, are more likely to attract and retain clients and employees. In industries such as automotive manufacturing, adherence to safety standards is often a decisive factor in securing contracts with major brands. This demonstrates how compliance with COSHH can enhance a company’s standing in the market.

Environmental protection is another area where COSHH compliance has a significant impact. Proper disposal methods and containment measures, as stipulated by COSHH, prevent hazardous substances from contaminating the environment. An example of this can be seen in a chemical engineering company that implemented a COSHH-compliant waste disposal system, thereby reducing the risk of environmental contamination.

Flammable Chemicals in Protection Cabinet

Implementing COSHH in engineering and manufacturing can present challenges. These may include the complexity of assessing risks for a wide range of substances, the need for specialised training and the costs associated with compliance. However, these challenges can be overcome through careful planning, collaboration with experts in the field, and a commitment to continuous improvement and adherence to industry best practices.

Ensure COSHH compliance throughout processes

Understanding and complying with COSHH is essential for the engineering and manufacturing industries. It is a cornerstone of responsible business practice, safeguarding employees, the environment and the business itself. Whether you are an employer, a manager, or an employee in these sectors, a comprehensive understanding of COSHH is vital. It ensures not only compliance with the law but also the successful and sustainable operation of the business.

Author: Kevin Rowe

Kevin Rowe is the Managing Director of SafetyBuyer.com and an occupational expert in COSHH compliance. “I have a broad range of operational, business development and marketing management experiences to draw upon. SafetyBuyer.com is a trusted and valued supplier to the UK workplace safety market.”