Is your hospital facility’s chemical control program compliant with the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 2002 (COSHH)?
A comprehensive and up-to-date chemical risk assessment will enable your medical facility to reach a definitive answer. It will also help you prevent avoidable incidents and injuries, whether by re-training staff members, systematising your chemical storage system, or through an up-to-date understanding of the risks posed by the chemicals in your healthcare building.
Risk assessments run more smoothly and enjoy longer staying power when you follow these three tips.
1. Take a Digital Approach to Risk Management
Perhaps the best possible tip for a risk assessment of any type is to complete the exercise with a systematic approach.
The system you choose can be as simple as a printed form based on the examples provided by the HSE. Most healthcare facilities already follow this baseline approach. However, you may find it benefits you to choose a digital tool to streamline the process and keep your chemical control sheets up-to-date..
Whether it’s an Excel sheet or a digital process hazard analysis tool or even COSHH software, applying a system allows you to:
- Capture standardised information about each chemical
- Update the information quickly and as needed
- Generate risk information to help you better mitigate the risks
- Save time on the risk assessment process without skipping any steps
These benefits empower you to collect better, up-to-date data and thus create a more robust and adaptable chemical control plan.
2. Keep COSHH Training Up-to-Date
The chemical itself may be regulated, but chemicals alone aren’t hazards. All employees need relevant, up-to-date training to handle chemicals. Without this regular training and refresher training, even the most carefully planned risk assessment can’t capture your healthcare facilities’ true risk of an incident. So, it’s helpful to consider your training records and your risk assessment in tandem to spot potential hazards.
Who needs to be COSHH trained in healthcare centres or a medical research lab?
In general, janitorial staff need COSHH training to interact with any cleaning or sanitisation chemicals used on the premises.
Additionally, anyone who must handle medical gases, including clinical and non-clinical staff (including porters) must have COSHH gas cylinder safety training. All staff who work with or transport medical gases must learn the following topics related to gas cylinder:
- Gas cylinder safety and hazards
- Cylinder identification, management and security
- Medical gas handling and operation
- Gas canister storage and handling
Medical research lab workers may require more in-depth training based on the chemicals they work with.
3. Include Chemical Storage in Your Assessment
Every basic chemical risk assessment must include who might be harmed and how, how you control risks, and what further action is required. These actions will often include the actions involved in using chemicals. But improper storage is often overlooked in these risk assessments. And improper chemical storage can lead to disasters.
In the healthcare industry, failing to store medical gas cylinders properly can lead to explosions, fires, theft, and misuse. For example, simple storage mistakes can lead to damage to the cylinder or the cylinder components, leading to leakages that you might not notice and creating an enormous fire hazard.
To prevent this issue, you’ll want to determine whether your chemicals are:
- Stored in the appropriate containers (bunded, fire-proof cabinets, etc.)
- Stored in a dedicated storage space and not excessively stored in laboratories or patient areas
- Placed in gas cylinder stands and not stacked on each other or stored on unsuitable shelving or in the wrong position
- Labelled properly and legibly
Is your chemical storage area a hazard? The experts at Safety Storage work with hospital management and health facilities management teams across the UK to ensure your staff can focus on what’s most important: healing patients. Contact the UK’s medical gas storage specialists today to discuss your facility’s needs.