COSHH & Hazardous Substance Cabinets Explained

COSHH & Hazardous Substance Cabinets Explained

COSHH & Hazardous Substance Cabinets Explained

What is COSHH?

COSHH stands for ‘Control of Substances Hazardous to Health'  (1). It refers to a set of regulations that aim to safeguard workers from potential harm caused by substances and materials in the workplace. These are enforced by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE)  (2) .

Before storing chemicals and substances, risk assessments must be conducted to determine the most appropriate cabinet to store them in and to outline measures to deal with any accidents, incidents, or emergencies and to establish prevention plans.

It is not only the responsibility of employers to control hazardous substances; employees also have a role to play. It is essential that they receive information, instruction and training on the measures taken to manage these risks and that everyone complies with their legal obligations under the COSHH and DSEAR (Dangerous Substances and Explosive Atmospheres Regulation 2002  (3)).

What are harmful substances?

Various types of substances and materials used or produced in workplaces can cause ill health. These can take different forms such as gases or fumes, dusts, liquids, gels, or powders. There may also be situations where harmful micro-organisms are present that could pose a health risk.

Harmful substances can be found in everyday materials like paints and cleaners. Although these substances are often common in the workplace, the regulations in place ensure that while they could harm health, the risk can be minimised by taking preventative measures.

How can you store COSHH substances?

One of the most common and effective ways to store harmful substances in the workplace is by using a COSHH cabinet. These cabinets are designed to store a variety of chemicals while complying with safety regulations. There are different types of COSHH cabinets available that cater to specific industries and offer specialised storage solutions.

It’s important to note that there is no one-size-fits-all approach to storing hazardous chemicals. We highly recommend consulting the manufacturer’s Safety Data Sheets (SDS) for more detailed information on how to safely store the chemicals in your workplace.

What are the maintenance requirements of a COSHH cabinet?

It is essential to conduct regular maintenance, examination and testing of any storage equipment, particularly COSHH storage, to ensure a safe working environment. It is good practice to visually inspect the cabinets on a weekly basis for any signs of damage or faults, such as with locking mechanisms or shelves. Additionally, check for any wear and tear before every job. Follow the supplier or installer’s maintenance guidelines and ensure equipment is thoroughly examined and tested against its performance standard at suitable intervals.

Regular cleaning is also important, and any spillages should be reported and dealt with immediately (or as per company procedures) while wearing any necessary personal protective equipment (PPE) or respiratory protective equipment (RPE), such as protective gloves.

How should COSHH substances be stored?

When planning to store hazardous substances, it is crucial to consider some factors. Reading the Safety Data Sheets (SDS) provided by the manufacturer is essential as it offers detailed information on how to store your chemicals safely, which is important to note as each chemical or substance will have different storage requirements.

Considerations can include:

Quantity & Properties of Chemicals -

You shouldn’t store more than 50 litres of highly flammable liquids or 250 litres of other flammable materials in a COSHH cabinet. Check the SDS provided by the manufacturer to see if different chemicals should be stored separately.

Size of the containers -

Certain cabinets or lockers will have a recommended UDL per shelf. This will help you to decide whether that is sufficient for storing your work substances or whether you require multiple cabinets.

Location -

Consider the location in which your storage cabinet will be placed and ensure that you have the appropriate cabinet for storage. Your COSHH assessment will identify the most suitable storage area in your workplace. Generally, hazardous substances should be placed in an area with a clear exit, and it is advised that it is located close to washing facilities.

Make sure to check whether certain chemicals need to be stored away from each other. In scenarios where they may be reactive, storing COSHH cabinets next to each other, which contain potentially reactive substances, could cause significant damage in case of a fire outbreak.

Ventilation -

Any storage areas you use should be well-ventilated. Most chemicals should be stored in a secure and safe outdoor location, if possible, to minimise risks to your employees. If you are planning to store chemicals outside, you should look for a COSHH cabinet that is weatherproof. Make sure to check the product specifications to ensure that it is suitable for outdoor use.

Security –

All hazardous substances should have a designated storage space, and access to these areas should be restricted to authorised personnel only. It is also crucial to consider and implement strict security measures to ensure the safety of everyone involved.

What to consider when choosing a COSHH cabinet?

COSHH cabinets are designed to store hazardous substances safely. They are often designed to be fire-resistant and leakproof, as well as have extra reinforcement. Some types of cabinets are built with specialised safety features.

Hazardous substances may include individual chemical substances as well as preparations that include a mixture of one or more substances, such as paint, cleaning materials, and pesticides. If your workplace deals with multiple chemical substances, you may need multiple cabinets to store them separately, and/or cabinets with specialised features.

What are the features of our COSHH Cabinets?

Our general Hazardous Substance storage cabinets are coated in epoxy powder in high visibility yellow (RAL 1003) and are ideal for storing corrosive, highly flammable, and harmful materials. They are also finished with an ActiveCoat antimicrobial powder coating; this technology minimises the risk of bacterial cross-contamination.

A fully welded sump is integrated into the cabinet, this sump is designed to eliminate the risk of leaks and can contain spillages of up to 35 litres.

In the event of spillage within the cupboard, it is recommended the sump is initially emptied employing an appropriate pump and the contents disposed of correctly in accordance with the relevant waste management regulations.

All cabinets come with a high-quality 3-point locking system that uses CAM locks to provide additional security.

Typical applications include:

  • Corrosive material storage
  • Flammable material storage
  • Hazardous substance storage
  • Paint storage
  • Chemical storage

All Hazardous Substance storage units are of steel construction for long life and low maintenance with reinforced doors for added security.

The cabinets come with three different high-visibility labels, including Corrosive Materials, Highly Flammable and Harmful Materials, conforming to BS5609.

View our  Hazardous Substance Cabinets range.

Whilst we’ve included a lot of information about COSHH, we always recommend that you conduct your own research and ensure that you’ve undertaken any assessments to have a clear understanding of your workplace requirements. If you’re unsure of anything, contact a professional for advice.

Always refer to the Safety Data Sheets provided by the manufacturer regarding chemicals and substances, and make sure that you’re up to date with information and regulations provided by GOV and HSE.

Disclaimer - this article is for information purposes only and reflects information available at the time of writing.

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