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COSHH in Construction

COSHH in Construction

Construction workers are inevitably exposed to a wide range of hazardous substances including dust, lead, and cement. Employers and employees in the construction industry must be aware of the risks posed by substances that are hazardous to health, how the substances can cause harm, and the potential subsequent health consequences.

 

 

Below, the experts in COSHH at SafetyBuyer outline the most common health risks posed by hazardous substances in the construction sector while providing guidance on maintaining a high level of safety.

 

 

What hazardous substances does COSHH cover?

Hazardous substances exist in a variety of forms, some of which will be more obvious than others. As such, it is vital that all those working in construction know how to recognise a hazardous substance and its associated risks. 

 

The safety regulations govern the following forms of hazardous substances: 

● Solids are particles of solid substances that enter the air, such as dust, fibres, smoke, and fumes.

● Liquids such as fine sprays, mists, and aerosols, consisting of tiny droplets of liquid, such as sprayed paint.

● Vapours are gaseous versions of liquids or solids, for example, solvent vapour.

● Gases are the byproduct of certain processes, such as carbon monoxide or engine exhaust gases.

 

● Microorganisms are minute organisms found practically everywhere, such as bacteria, viruses, and fungus.

 

 

A hazardous substance can exist in more than one form at the same time under particular conditions. For example, paint spraying can produce fine mists of liquid droplets and also solvent vapour. Knowing the correct forms of hazardous material is critical for implementing the appropriate control measures and achieving a compliant level of COSHH regulations.

 

How can hazardous substances affect construction workers?

Substances can be harmful to your health in various ways and have varying degrees of severity. Some are more recognisable, such as dizziness, headaches, and nausea - which are caused by solvents or cement burns. Others, such as lung disorders, can take considerably longer, even years, to develop.

 The construction sector is a high risk to health. Many of the common health complications are caused by hazardous chemicals, which make COSHH regulations vital for protecting workers from ill health.

 Below are common hazardous substances found in the construction industry:

 Construction dust - More than an annoyance, cement dust can also be harmful to the lungs.

● Cement - Products containing cement, such as concrete or mortar, can cause significant skin issues such as dermatitis and burns.

● Lead - Lead is still widely utilised and found in older buildings. Inadvertently inhaling or ingesting lead dust and fumes can cause major health concerns.

● Solvents can be found in a variety of items, including paints, thinners, resins, and glues. Poorly managed solvent work can cause both short-term and long-term health problems.

● Isocyanates - Isocyanates are found in paints, coatings, foams, and glues. Isocyanates can cause asthma and dermatitis if they are inhaled.

● Microorganisms - Construction workers can be exposed to a wide range of disease-causing microorganisms, including bacteria, viruses, and fungus. They can be spread through the air, through hand-to-mouth contact, or through the skin and cause a variety of health concerns.

 

● Carbon monoxide (CO) - A colourless and odourless deadly gas created by gas appliances and engines, and can be lethal.

 

How is a construction worker exposed to hazardous substances?

Hazardous compounds can enter the body through a variety of routes. There are three major paths:

● Lungs and airways - dangerous chemicals can be ingested via the air you breathe. Many of these chemicals, such as dust or isocyanates, are harmful to the lungs and airways.

● Skin - Some chemicals, such as cement, can cause rashes or burns when they come into touch with your skin. Other chemicals, such as solvents, can enter your bloodstream through your skin. Cuts and wounds can also let harmful microorganisms enter your body.

 

● Mouth - When eating, drinking, or smoking, there is a risk of hazardous substances entering your body through contaminated hands.

 

Find out more about COSHH in construction

The experts in occupational safety at SafetyBuyer have long supplied safety products for organisations to become COSHH-compliant and maintain the highest standards of health and safety. View the range of COSHH-compliant products that could help your construction site or workplace.

What Are The Properties Hazardous Substances Can Be Identified By?

What Are The Properties Hazardous Substances Can Be Identified By?

The inability to perceive or identify chemical hazard risks is one of the key concerns found in workplaces. This can be the result of inadequate health and safety training, a lack of chemical reporting methods, or a poor health and safety culture.

 However, the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health (COSHH) rules outline the duties that employers and employees must follow, in order to maintain high levels of safety and reduce the risk of harm caused by hazardous substances.

 The occupational safety experts at SafetyBuyer have created this guide to give you the resources you need to recognise chemical properties and take the necessary steps to lessen or prevent their risks.

 

 

What is a hazard?

In chemical safety regulation, a hazard is defined as a property or group of properties that render a substance dangerous. Chemicals that represent a risk to human health, the environment, or both might be considered hazardous.

 

Organising your workplace when working with chemicals

The first step to assuring the control of hazardous substances in your workplace is to create a current inventory of all your chemicals. Safety data sheets (SDSs) for the product from the manufacturer or supplier should be included in this inventory. It is the manufacturer's or supplier's responsibility to assess and categorise chemicals in line with local, national and international laws.

A safety data sheet and product label are required to inform your organisation of the product’s classification. The most crucial sources of information about the dangerous characteristics of your chemical are the product label and SDS.

The SDS will include the following information to help you understand the substance’s risks:

●Hazard symbols

●Hazard warnings

You can quickly identify the risks connected to the substance using the hazard icon. The Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals (GHS) has standardised each pictogram, which consists of a symbol on a white backdrop inside a red border.

Each symbol represents a distinct risk connected to your product. It's vital to remember that your product label or SDS may include various dangers and feature multiple pictograms as a result.

The precautionary statements will be included in the SDS together with the hazard warnings. It is crucial to take note of these and make sure that all conceivable safety measures are implemented in order to lower the possibility of suffering an injury or illness.

 

The pictograms you should be aware about:

Harmful

Explosive

Flammable

Oxidising

Compressed Gas

Corrosive

Toxic

Health Hazard

Environmental Hazard

Find out more about occupational safety around hazardous substances

SafetyBuyer are leaders in supplying high-quality safety products for the workplace, allowing businesses to work safely around hazardous substances. For leading hazardous substance safety products and solutions, visit the SafetyBuyer site. We have everything you need to reach the highest safety standards and be COSHH-compliant. 

Why is COSHH Important?

Why is COSHH Important?

The individual in charge of running a company or supervising a team at work has a responsibility to familiarise themselves with the laws and policies in place to safeguard the health and safety of employees.

Only by doing this will your company be able to fulfil its obligations as an employer, while ensuring the safety of all at work.

In order for a company to meet its duty of care to employees, it must scrupulously follow the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health (COSHH) Regulations of 2002 if its work involves the use or handling of potentially hazardous substances.

These regulations are intended to limit or minimise employees' exposure to substances and materials that could be hazardous, preventing accidents and preserving the welfare of the workforce.

 

What is COSHH?

Employers are required under COSHH to control substances that are harmful to their employees' health. You can avoid or minimise your employees' exposure to dangerous substances by:

● learning what the health risks are;

● deciding how to reduce the danger;

● implementing controls to lessen health risks;

● making certain they are utilised;

● keeping all control measures operational;

● providing employees and others with knowledge, training and education;

● providing oversight and health surveillance where necessary;

 

● making emergency plans

 

Why is COSHH important?

In 2020-21 in Great Britain, 1.7 million workers suffered from work-related illnesses and injuries. According to estimates, thousands of workers in the UK experience illnesses or injuries each year as a result of being exposed to hazardous, harmful or toxic substances at work. 

 

This can contain anything considered a hazardous substance under COSHH regulations:

● Chemicals and products containing chemicals

● Fumes

● Dust

● Vapours

● Mists

● Nanotechnology

● Gases and asphyxiating gases

● Biological agents (germs)

COSHH does not cover asbestos, lead or radioactive materials - these are governed by their own safety regulations.

 

It protects your employees

 

An injury sustained from a hazardous substance can be severely damaging to the health of the employee. COSHH protects those on sites with hazardous substances to reduce the risk posed to them.

It impacts businesses

Injuries to workers can have serious consequences for the employer, too. An injury can result in workplace absences, reduced productivity and the potential for regulatory penalties, as well as a damaged company reputation.

It improves your processes

Being COSHH-compliant forces you to revisit all your controls and processes - including equipment and working behaviours, training level, and work output.

Compliance everywhere

 

Learning about COSHH allows you to get a better understanding of compliance from the top down. This means you will not be at risk of falling behind and not knowing how to tackle compliance when implementing new processes involving potentially hazardous substances.

 

Find out how your business can be COSHH-compliant

SafetyBuyer is an occupational safety expert, selling safety products and solutions to help manage hazardous substances and keep the site COSHH-compliant. Visit our COSHH management and spill control solutions here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

COSHH Control Measures

COSHH Control Measures

COSHH stands for the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health. As the name suggests, the objective of COSHH measures is to reduce the risk of exposure to hazardous substances, protecting the well-being of workers and anyone on work premises where dangerous substances are used.

There are three major strategies you must understand and implement in order to ensure your workplace is COSHH-compliant. Failure to do so could result in harm afflicted to workers, which can be followed by fines or other legal repercussions.

Control equipment

Hazardous substances should be stored, handled and used according to a number of control measures that vary according to the substance or environment in question. This is often made much easier by using COSHH-compliant equipment. Generally, the COSHH control measures govern the ways in which hazardous substances are stored and handled to reduce the risk of spills or other accidents and prevent harm or exposure to people.

Hazardous substances require varying storage types and safety protocols. As such, finding the most appropriate storage solution for your hazardous substances should follow a thorough risk assessment. It is necessary to understand all the possible health hazards posed by the handling and storing of the hazardous substances you need to store in order to plan for its safe use.

Employers have a duty to prevent workers' exposure to hazardous substances, and undertaking a COSHH risk assessment will help to reduce the risks posed.

 

For a comprehensive overview of how to safely store hazardous substances in the workplace, view our COSHH management solutions.

General ventilation

 

Safe storage environments for hazardous substances require adequate ventilation. Allowing for the harmful gases that are emitted by some substances can build up, which significantly increases the risk of exposure for workers. Installing local exhaust ventilation is a vital aspect of safe storage, to prevent exposure to airborne biological agents and remain compliant with COSHH regulations.

Enclosure

The area in which the hazardous substances are stored should be accessed only by those with sufficient training and knowledge of the risks involved.

The storage cabinet or container itself must have properties that will contain the hazardous substance safely; it should be made from materials that cannot be compromised by the substance itself, and allow for easy handling and more practical container arrangements.

 

Understand the COSHH cabinet requirements here.

Spillage capture and clean-up procedures

Part of a thorough COSHH risk assessment is to develop a plan for when toxic substances spill, and implement measures that will reduce workers' exposure. You should place spillage kits that are appropriate for each type of hazardous substance you use in strategic and accessible places, wherever these substances are used or stored.

 

Find appropriate spill control kits here.

Decontamination

Should a toxic substance spill, you must react quickly to contain the area and prevent any ongoing risk to employees’ health. Once the area has been cleaned and the substance disposed of, you should determine whether or not you need to decontaminate and disinfect the site of the spill.

 

The exact procedure will depend on the type of hazardous substance that spilled, so it is vital that those handling each substance understand its properties and how to effectively control a spill and decontaminate an area.

Personal Protective Equipment

According to the Health and Safety Executive, every company is required to give its employees the appropriate PPE to protect them from any risks or hazards they might encounter while at work.

 

Employers have a duty to ensure that all employees understand the risks associated with handling hazardous substances and provide them with the necessary protective equipment to perform their daily activities safely.

Working methods

COSHH control measures extend to the ways in which employees use dangerous products in their daily activities. It is vital that those working with hazardous substances understand the best practices they should use to prevent harm.

 

Procedures, supervision, and training must all be kept to the highest standards of safety. While it is a legal requirement for employers to protect their workers' health, employees have a responsibility to use their training and approach substances hazardous to health with the necessary caution.

Behaviour at work

Once the control measures are in place, it is important that everyone adhere to them. It is equally vital that these measures are used properly and that they are reviewed regularly to ensure that they are still suitable for the activities you are carrying out and the substances you are using.

You must always meet the highest standards of control measures, which means wearing appropriate PPE whenever necessary, using COSHH-compliant control equipment, and implementing and following procedures to warn supervisors should anything go wrong.

 

It is vital that all organisations are organised and prepared to work safely around hazardous substances. SafetyBuyer is a leading provider of COSHH-compliant equipment and appliances; view our full range of COSHH cabinets, spill control kits, and PPE.

 

 

 

COSHH Employee Responsibilities

The Control of Substances Hazardous to Health (COSHH) is the law that governs occupational health and safety with hazardous substances, but there can be confusion as to who is legally responsible for implementing and adhering to COSHH on a daily basis.

Read more

What Colour Should a Fire Door Sign Be?

What Colour Should a Fire Door Sign Be?

Safety signs have a vital role to play in protecting the health and wellbeing of everybody on site, and few are more important than fire safety signs. Workers and site visitors need to be able to immediately tell where they can find the nearest fire exit, how to locate fire fighting equipment, and how to make sure that vital escape routes are kept clear.

One of the key considerations should always be to make sure you have the right signage in place around your fire doors. This not only means having the right messages in place to instruct users on how to find and use these emergency exits, but also understanding the colour-coding to ensure these signs are being used correctly.

Here, the experts at SafetyBuyer will explain the different types of fire safety signs used in conjunction with fire doors, and how the different colours affect their meaning.

What kind of fire safety signage is needed for fire doors?

Fire doors and escape routes are absolutely essential aspects of workplace health and safety. In case of emergency, everyone on-site needs to understand how to access the nearest fire exits and leave the premises safely; this also means that these doors need to be kept clear and unobstructed at all other times.

As such, there are two main categories of fire safety signs that are used most often with fire doors:

Blue safety signs

Safety signs with a blue background are known as mandatory signs, providing instructions about the essential steps that need to be taken to keep everybody safe. Blue safety signs are often attached directly to fire doors to provide guidance on how to use them properly. Key messages might include:

  • Instructions to keep the fire door shut, to ensure doors are not wedged open, preventing them from containing flames and smoke
  • Instructions to keep the door clear, ensuring that self-opening and self-closing fire doors are not blocked off by goods, bins, discarded rubbish or other obstructions during an emergency
  • Warnings to keep fire doors locked to make sure they are not being used inappropriately
  • Instructions to keep the fire exit unlocked while the premises are occupied

To find out more about the role of blue fire exit signs in the workplace, take a look at our blog post about the meaning of blue signs on fire doors.

Green safety signs

Green safety signs are also known as safe condition signs, and are used to highlight safe routes and essential safety facilities so that they can easily be found when they are needed. In the context of fire safety, these specific safety signs will most commonly be used to point out the location of fire doors and safe escape routes.

As such, green safety signs can be used in conjunction with your fire exit in the following ways:

  • Fire exit signs that are situated directly above the fire door to show its location. These will commonly be illuminated with emergency lighting to make them highly visible in all situations
  • Fire exit location markers with directional arrows to point people along the best fire exit routes, making it easy for them to find the emergency exits and fire assembly points

Other safety sign colours

The other two most common types of safety signs are yellow and red. Red warning signs are known as prohibition signs, offering warnings of prohibited dangerous actions, while yellow fire safety signs provide information on a specific hazard. These types of fire safety warning signs are less likely to be used in direct conjunction with a fire door, and are more likely to be situated elsewhere to flag up and prevent particular fire hazards.

However, your site may utilise fire action notices in the vicinity of your fire doors. These signs are not a single colour - instead, they provide a list of different actions and warnings that users need to remember in case of fire, with each entry being colour-coded according to the industry standard.

These fire action notices may provide specific information that is relevant to using the fire door safely - for example, whether the door needs to be pushed, pulled or slid open, or if a specific emergency exit is suitable for wheelchair users or people with particular needs.

Find out more

If you are looking for a complete range of fire safety signs, including warning signs and exit signs suitable for use with your fire doors, take a look at our complete range of fire door signs and fire exit signs. To learn more about how to use safety signs in your workplace, take a look at our Ultimate Guide to Safety Signs, including what the different colours and shapes of safety signs mean.

You can also browse our full range of safety signs online at SafetyBuyer, or call us on 0800 043 1061 if you have any questions.

Health and Safety Sign Meanings: What Do the Colours and Shapes Mean?

Health and Safety Sign Meanings: What Do the Colours and Shapes Mean?

Safety signs are a crucial aspect of workplace health and safety practices, communicating vital warnings and safety messages to everyone on-site in a visually impactful way. The colour and shape of health and safety signs are a key part of that visual communication - but many might be unaware of exactly what purpose these design elements serve.

Workplace safety rules from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) dictate that every workplace needs safety signs to ensure that everyone knows what to do to keep safe. However, it is also essential that all members of staff are able to understand the meaning of these signs, and that no time is wasted in an emergency having to explain unfamiliar signs to workers - which is why the shapes and colours of safety signs are standardised.

It is your responsibility as an employer to ensure that all of your workers understand any safety symbols and fire safety signs on-site at a glance, to ensure that potential hazards are identified and rules are followed. Fortunately, the differences between the signs are clear and easy to remember.

What are the main types of safety signs?

In total, there are five main types of health and safety signs, using different colours and shapes to draw the viewer’s attention and offer an indication of their meaning without needing to read the words.

Prohibition signs

Circular red safety signs are otherwise known as prohibition signs, used to highlight potentially dangerous behaviour or activities that must be avoided.

Prohibition signs feature a thick red circle with a black pictogram in the middle and a red diagonal line through the central image, demonstrating the dangerous behaviour the sign is there to prevent. Examples include signs that forbid entry to certain areas, or notices that instruct those working nearby to avoid lighting a cigarette or using their mobile phones.

When you see a red prohibition sign, it simply means that you need to read the notice and ensure that you avoid the prohibited activity.

Warning signs

Warning signs feature a triangular border and a yellow background. They are designed to draw workers’ attention to a specific nearby danger or hazardous situation in the area.

Rather than prohibiting a specific action, warning signs are designed to remind the reader to keep the hazard in mind. For example, yellow or amber signs may be used to warn workers about caustic chemicals or high-voltage equipment; they can also be used as signs warning about slippery or uneven surfaces, or extreme temperatures.

When you see warning safety signs, you should take extra care to ensure you are able to avoid the nearby hazard.

Mandatory signs

Mandatory signs depict a specific behaviour or instructions of a mandatory nature, which must be followed when entering the area. These signs are circular with a blue background, using text, pictograms and safety symbols to provide the necessary instructions.

Common examples of mandatory signs include the “Keep Shut” warnings that appear on fire doors, or the notices used on construction sites to remind workers to wear appropriate personal protective equipment, such as safety goggles and hard hats. Blue safety signs are also often used to remind people to avoid littering the area.

When you see mandatory signs, you should read them carefully and follow the instructions closely to make sure you are adhering to health and safety regulations.

Safe condition signs

Safe condition signs are important safety signs with a green background and a rectangular or square shape, featuring a white pictogram. These signs are used to highlight safe routes or mark out essential safety facilities that can be accessed when necessary.

Look out for these signs marking out where to find the nearest fire door, emergency exits, safe assembly points and first aid kits; they can be positioned directly over the location in question, or along escape routes, using large white arrows to point the way.

When you see green safety signs, you should follow them to safety, or make a mental note of their location so you’ll know where to head when an emergency arises. Often, these will be illuminated signs, to ensure they are highly visible at all times.

Fire safety signs

Like prohibition signs, UK fire safety signs are also red, but can be distinguished by their rectangular or square shape and white pictograms. These crucial fire safety instruction signs provide information and mandatory fire instructions to ensure everyone on site knows what to do in case of a fire, including where to find the nearest fire alarm, extinguishers and other equipment.

Fire equipment signs are one of the most common types of fire instructions notice, and are used to not only mark out the location of fire blankets, extinguishers and other equipment, but also information on how to use them correctly.

When you see a red fire safety sign, you should remember its location in case of fire - it could help to save lives.

The importance of proper maintenance

Responsible businesses will have plenty of these signs all across their workplace, but proper health and safety stewardship needs to go beyond simply buying the appropriate signs.

It is essential to ensure that all members of staff understand what all of the signs mean - not only by providing proper training, but also by making sure that their messages and pictograms are self-explanatory. Businesses also have a responsibility to keep these notices clearly displayed, unobstructed and well maintained, as a hidden or damaged sign could pose a significant danger to staff wellbeing if an emergency situation occurs.

By taking the importance of health and safety signs seriously, companies in all sectors can ensure their workforce are well-informed on what to do in any situation, meaning they will be able to manage their own safety and wellbeing in a way that is self-sustaining.

If you’re looking for safety signs for your workplace, SafetyBuyer offers a wide range of products to suit all requirements. To find out more, call us on 0800 043 0161.

What is the Proper Placement of Wet Floor Signs?

What is the Proper Placement of Wet Floor Signs?

Wet floor signs play a crucial role in helping workplaces to avoid the slips, trips and falls that can result from wet floor areas on site. A slip and fall in the workplace is one of the most common types of occupational accident, but it can also be one of the most dangerous, potentially leading to broken bones and long-term injuries.

Having a wet floor sign in place will help to alert your workers and site visitors to the potential slip hazard caused by wet floors. This is essential if your walking surfaces at work regularly become wet due to exposure to bad weather or accidental spills, or simply as a result of routine cleaning and mopping.

However, using wet floor signs effectively means that they must be properly placed in a prominent location. Here, we will explore the various factors to consider when deciding where to place a wet floor sign.

Where should wet floor signage be placed?

Finding the right location for wet floor signs plays a crucial role in whether or not they will be effective for accident prevention. If placed incorrectly, floor signs can be easily missed, or even become trip hazards in and of themselves.

Here are the factors to bear in mind when setting up caution signs for slippery floors:

  • You must place signs prominently so they can be easily seen by any employees, customers or other site visitors as they are entering wet floor areas. This will mean placing them near the entrance to the area, in an open and highly visible location, where they cannot be missed.
  • You must have enough safety signs to cover all of the directions and angles from which someone might approach the hazard area. If you are operating a larger site with multiple entrances to the area with the wet walking surface, you will need to set up an appropriate number of signs.
  • As a rule, try to arrange your safety signs in a triangle around the wet area, in order to cover as many angles as possible and warn people approaching from all directions.
  • Do not place wet floor signage in a location where it could become a trip hazard. For example, placing signs near a doorway, staircase or in a narrow corridor can easily turn them into potential hazards, as can placing them near a blind corner.
  • Where possible, ensure that wet floor signs are visible on security cameras. If someone does slip and fall on a wet surface despite your precautions, having video proof that you had the proper signage in place will help to reduce your liability.

Other considerations when using wet floor signs

To get the most out of your wet floor signs and ensure they can be placed effectively as and when they are needed, there are a number of other steps you can take:

  • Ensure that you have plenty of signs stored around your premises, so you can quickly access them whenever they might be needed. It is best to keep signs closest to areas where they are most likely to be needed, such as bathrooms, entrance areas that are exposed to rainwater, or locations where spillages of a slippery substance would be considered a frequent risk.
  • Make sure you have enough wet floor signs on site for use in multiple locations at the same time, especially if you are the property owner of large premises. This will ensure that any member of staff will be able to find and place a safety sign to prevent slips, even if there is another spillage somewhere else on-site at the same time.
  • Inform all staff members of where wet floor signs can be found, and ensure they are not locked away where they can only be accessed by dedicated janitorial staff.
  • As soon as a slippery floor has been cleaned up, make sure the wet floor signs are put away promptly. Leaving these signs on display even when no fall hazards are present will reduce their effectiveness.

By taking these steps, your business will get the most effective use out of these important safety measures, ensuring that you are able to properly warn people when a spillage occurs and bring the risk of slip and fall injuries to a minimum.

Find out more

If you are looking for high-quality safety signs to protect your workers against the hazards posed by slippery floors, take a look at our full range of wet floor signs.

If you have any questions about which of our caution signs would work best for your site, give SafetyBuyer a call today on 0800 043 1061.

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