Control of Substances Hazardous to Health - COSHH Level 2 (VTQ)

49 videos, 2 hours and 3 minutes

Course Content

COSHH in the office

Video 27 of 49
3 min 23 sec
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Many people would assume that working in an office environment would not expose workers to substances that would be deemed to be hazardous. However, there are products that can be found in a typical office environment that could pose a risk to health.

Toner cartridges for laser and inkjet printers contain chemicals and produce dust, which can potentially be hazardous. While sealed, they pose little or no risk. However, when the cartridge is replaced, dust can be released into the atmosphere and onto surfaces where it can come into contact with the skin. Gloves can be utilised to avoid contact with the skin when changing the cartridge or a suitable skin cleanser provided. Spillages should be cleaned up carefully and thoroughly. Empty cartridges should be disposed off carefully in a sealed bag to avoid the risk of contamination after disposal.

Photocopiers can also pose a risk of breathing in emissions and should be situated in an area with good ventilation. Solvents used for cleaning print heads coming into contact the skin also pose a risk. Protective gloves should be used and a lidded bin should be used for disposal to avoid further risk of contact. Care must be taken when preparing a risk assessment for all areas where printers and photocopiers are used, taking into account the safe handling and disposal of cartridges. Consider whether gloves, eye protection or face masks are needed.

Paper shredders and disposal of shredded documentation can also be responsible for dust in the atmosphere. How and where the shredded documents are disposed of, the location of the shredder and the ventilation need to be considered. Well-ventilated work areas can reduce the risk of poor indoor air quality, which can cause sore throats and irritation of the eyes and nose.

This can affect anyone. Keeping areas tidy and free of dust also helps reduce the number of dust particles in the atmosphere. Kitchens in offices often contain various cleaning chemicals. These could be liquids, sprays or powders and you should ensure that you obtain a COSHH data sheet for any chemical substance found and assess the risk they pose, then you can establish control measures to reduce or eliminate the hazard. You will also need to decide if any personal protective equipment may be needed.

Other areas that need to be assessed are the toilets and any storerooms or cupboards. Look carefully at what substances are there and the data sheets that go with them. You need to ensure that accidental exposure to them is avoided and decide on what personal protective equipment is needed when handling them.

This is not an exhaustive list. You need to have a close look at all the operations that take place in the office. Are there items stored in drawers or desks, such as glue or corrective fluid? Also consider items that employees may bring into the office, for example, cosmetic products or medication. It is not uncommon for employees to go out to the shops in their lunch hour and bring in potentially hazardous chemicals such as household bleach or other cleaning chemicals and if they do, where are these to be stored until the end of the day.

These are all things you need to consider when completing your risk assessment.