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Hazardous substances used in the workplace will and often have caused harm to the health of employees and others not directly associated with the activities, where exposure has not been properly controlled.  Exposure may cause short or long-term health problems.  It can be many years before symptoms become apparent, and even more difficult to relate them back to an individual’s historical work activities.


Hazardous substances themselves cover a surprisingly large spectrum of materials, and not all are man-made and many are the result of processes applied to inert materials (i.e. drilling operations). A few common examples are listed below


Oils and greases

Glues and adhesives

Paints and varnishes

Petrol and diesel

Cleaning materials

Sand and cement

Substances generated during work activities (e.g. fumes from soldering and welding or dust from grinding)

Naturally occurring substances (e.g. grain dust)

Sewage and effluent

Pigeon excrement


and many, many other substances.


Examples of the effects of hazardous substances include:


skin irritation or dermatitis as a result of skin contact

asthma as a result of developing allergy to substances used at work

losing consciousness as a result of being overcome by toxic fumes

cancer, which may appear long after the exposure to the chemical that caused it, and

infection from bacteria and other micro-organisms (biological agents).


A hazardous material safety data sheet should be supplied with any hazardous substance at its delivery location.  MSDS sheets should always be available to all members of staff and others who may require to handle, move or use the hazardous substance, etc.


The MSDS contains guidelines on what should be done if the hazardous substance accidentally comes into contact with your skin, your eyes, or is ingested orally or possibly absorbed through the skin.  It will also include other safety precautions such as what to do about spillages or leaks.  Warning labels will be used to classify the types of hazard, such as irritant, flammable, very flammable, toxic, very toxic, corrosive, explosive, sensitising, dangerous to the environment, etc


The following is a useful list of, Do’s and Don'ts for Chemical Handling;


Do check the container label before using,

Do use appropriate protective clothing and equipment,

Do open containers carefully, in a well ventilated area (beware of pressure building up in containers),

Do know and understand the hazards of the chemical you are using,

Do make sure your actions are authorised by your supervisor and or manager,

Do understand COSHH Risk Assessment detail and work safely to ensure minimum risk for yourself, your colleagues and others who may be affected,

Do clean up minor spillages,

Do ensure you report major spillages,

If in doubt consult with your supervisor and or manager.

Don’t use chemicals if the container labels are missing or damaged so that key information is illegible,

Don’t use contaminated or unsuitable mixing or measuring equipment,

Don’t eat, drink or smoke when handling or using chemicals.


The following help pages will give you help and guidance of TIRA’s Hazardous Substances Risk Assessment Module.


1.Hazardous Substances Risk Assessment Input Form

2.Entering Risk Assessment Hazards Findings

3.Adding Risk Assessments Corrective Actions

4.Sign the Risk Assessment Off

5.Adding Risk Assessment Briefing Notes

6.Producing Lists of Staff Briefed on Risk Assessment Findings

7.Search and Find a Specific Risk Assessment

8.Select a Risk Assessment for Editing

9.Select and Print a Risk Assessment

10.Print a Blank Risk Assessment 

11.Risk Assessment Standard Reports Menu

12.Build your own Questions Sets - Addendum A & B 

13.Adding Attachments (Images and Pictures)

14.Adding Hyperlinks (E-mail and Web Addresses) 


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