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Control of Substances Hazardous to Health

Under COSHH Regulations an assessment must be made to identify risks to health and the measures necessary to prevent or adequately control exposure to substances hazardous to health such as pesticides. 'Substances hazardous to health' include:

  • Any substance that is listed in Part 1A of the approved list as dangerous for supply
  • or any substance labelled as very toxic, toxic, harmful, corrosive or irritant.
  • Any substance for which a Maximum Exposure Limit (MEL) is specified in Schedule 1 of the COSHH regulations or for which the HSE has set an Occupational Exposure Standard (OES).
  • Any micro-organism which creates a hazard to the health of any person.
  • Any dust which is present at a substantial concentration in the air.

The Regulations require employees to put into place controls which have been identified. Control of exposure must be achieved through the selection, use and maintenance of appropriate controls over materials, plant and process. Personal protective clothing as a means of exposure control is only acceptable where all other means are impractical.

Agriculture uses many hazardous substances including:

  • Pesticides:- herbicides, fungicides, insecticides, rat poisons, etc.
  • Veterinary medicines:- sheep dips, antibiotics, feed additives, etc.
  • Dusts:- from grain dryer, straw chopper, mouldy hay, etc.
  • Other chemicals:- silage additives, dairy chemicals, acids, etc.
  • Other:- oils, fuels, anti-freeze etc.

In addition other dangerous substances may be generated by the farming activities such as pathogens and toxic and explosive gases from slurry.

Manufacturers and suppliers have a duty to display safety information on their products and this information will help you identify any hazardous substances which you may bring onto the farm. Standard safety symbols are used like those shown below:-

For non-proprietary substances (e.g. dust, fumes, gases from slurry) you may need to get advice from the Health and Safety Executive.

Information relating to COSHH and the use of pesticides can be found in the Pesticides: Code of Practice for the safe use of pesticides on farms and holdings issued by HMSO.

See also:

  • COSHH Regulations 2002
  • COSHH - A brief guide to the Regulations
  • Risk Assessment: the Five Steps, HSE
  • RIDDOR Explained: Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurences Regulations, HSE
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