Understanding the risks from exposure and how to control these, including Respiratory Protective Equipment
Work processes may involve the use of a variety of chemicals and substances that can create fumes, dusts and other substances.
Breathing in hazardous substances at work can put your employees' health at risk and may cause a range of respiratory diseases and conditions from asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and cancers. It can also cause other diseases of the airways and lungs, for example airway obstruction, bronchitis or lung cancers. As well as this, it can cause cancer in other parts of the body, nervous system diseases and disorders of reproductive organs.
Use the links below to find information and resources on how to assess the risks to breathing, the equipment you can use and your legal duties.
The health of your workforce could be put at risk if they use or are exposed to substances labelled as
Your employees may be exposed to by-products from work activities such as
These can create hazardous amounts of
This risk of harm may be increased if any of your employees have pre-existing health conditions such as asthma. Workers can also become sensitised to the substances they are exposed to.
The exposures can come from a wide variety of work situations such as
You and your employees should be especially vigilant and ensure appropriate controls are in place if they working with
If substances are used or generated at work then a risk assessment should be carried out. This will determine if there is a risk to your employees or those who may be affected by the work activities. It can help you identify what controls should be put in place to protect them.
When using hazardous substances the risk assessment is known as a Control of Substances Hazardous to Health (COSHH) assessment.
You will need to discuss this with your staff and consider how your employees could be exposed.
We have created a publication with guidance and a form to help you carry out a COSHH assessment.
Go to our COSHH assessment publication
You can share the video below with your employees to help raise awareness and encourage discussion on the subject.
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For information on workplace health, safety and wellbeing, contact your local health board team