Do you use chemicals at work?
Chemicals are part of modern life, and we are likely to encounter them every day. They are used in many places and in many different ways, including factories, shops, laboratories, offices, farms and in the home. The chemicals you use at work may include products you buy to use in your core business, or in maintaining your equipment, or in general cleaning. The term chemical could also include hazardous substances you create as part of your work processes e.g. dust created by cutting wood or stone.
The control and accountability of hazardous substances are viewed as a crucial element of good practice in industry as well as in schools and colleges. There are many valid reasons why all those who come into contact with hazardous chemicals should maintain effective controls on the type of chemical, how much they have, and that it is stored in a safe and secure manner with access restricted. Such chemicals are often expensive and some have hazards such as toxic, corrosive, explosive, or flammable, which carries risks in their use, either alone or when mixed with other substances. As such the correct hazardous materials storage cabinets should be used.
What are the regulations?
The main regulation affecting the handling and use of hazardous substances is found under the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 2002 (COSHH – as amended).
If you are an employer, the law requires you to prevent or control the exposure to hazardous substances at work, to prevent ill health. To do this you need to assess the risks in your workplace and implement and maintain effective control measures.
Where to find further info.
The HSE website www.hse.gov.uk/coshh provides several sources of useful information, to help you to comply with the law and control exposure to chemicals in the workplace.
As well as this regulation, Schools and colleges already receive guidance from CLEAPSS and SSERC on storing and handling chemicals. This guidance is aimed at both meeting the legislative requirements and implementing good practice. It is intended to build on previous guidance issued to improve the security of hazardous and precursor chemicals.
The Home Office Secure Your Chemicals (SYC) guidance for schools and colleges requires them to maintain records and regular audits of chemicals. For schools that don’t have such a system in place, you could download a free trial from Labexpert UK.
Labexpert UK supplies stock control software for chemicals & equipment specifically designed for school and college science departments. The software offers great features such as hazard and storage information, automatic re-order report for chemicals, PAT testing records for equipment and the ability for bar code reading and built-in reports just to name a few. Labexpert UK also run regular training sessions on chemical storage and how best to utilise their software and offer advice and information on chemical storage.