Risk assessment for skin exposure according to the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health regulations – An Overview
by Chris Packham
This document provides a brief overview of what a COSHH risk assessment should include. Note that it is concerned only with skin exposure and not the other two routes – inhalation and ingestion. Be aware also that treating each route in isolation ignores the potential for cross reaction that might not be identified if each is treated as a discrete, isolated route. The diagram shows the cross reactions that can exist between the three routes.
As part of any risk assessment for risks of damage to health due to workplace skin exposure we need to identify the properties of any chemical that is present when a task is being carried out. This is not quite as simple as many assume. Traditionally much reliance has been placed on the information contained in the safety data sheet. However, in a large number of cases this is inadequate for a comprehensive skin exposure risk assessment. It is almost always the case that chemicals are purchased to use for a particular task. In the process of using them we may well change their properties, and therefore the hazard that contact between chemical and skin represents.