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Control of Substances Hazardous to Health - Essay Example

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Control of Substances Hazardous to Health

In this respect occupational health physicians possess a leading role in enforcing the Health and Safety Executive or the local authority, depending on the type of activity. (Boyle, 1994, p. 10)
The COSHH Regulations have been perhaps the most significant in the development of occupational health and safety measures. A CBI survey in 1993, which showed that 50 per cent of private sector employers had only introduced such measures over the last five years, seems to reflect this trend. To many employers the implementation of safety regulations has been seen as, and indeed is, a burden on both staff and financial resources. Although alterations in work methods, practices, equipment and environment may prove costly, probably the greatest problem has been assessment. These regulations all require an assessment to be made of the risk by a competent person. In organisations which do not have trained safety or occupational health staff it has been difficult to set up suitable assessment programmes. Alternatives have been to:
The concept of risk seems difficult for many managers to grasp. ...
Alternatives have been to:

1. Appoint a trained safety officer;
2. Appoint a trained occupational health practitioner;
3. Employ health and safety practitioners on a consultancy basis;
4. Train designated staff.

The concept of risk seems difficult for many managers to grasp. It is simply the likelihood of a known hazard causing damage to health. Another dimension to this assessment is the numbers of staff, contractors and the public who may be at risk. The Management of Health and Safety at Work (MHSW) Regulations have closed any gap that might have been supposed to exist in the list of hazards, which have to be assessed. Although the HASAWA did require protection of staff, assessment of risk was tied to specific regulations. The MHSW Regulations require the assessment of risk for all workplace hazards. Of course, those organisations, which are complying with previous industry and hazard specific regulations, will find that they have already covered most areas. Those, which are, not will have to set in train the full assessment programme. It is certainly not possible to address this issue without the use of trained health and safety experts.
Occupational health physicians should not be expected to control sickness absence but they are able to assist managers in implementation of the rules on their local workers. The physician should look at the epidemiology of sickness absence, providing statistics on levels of absence in different work groups. This may help to pinpoint not only hazards but also management weaknesses and low morale. It is not always possible to give a realistic prognosis for an individual's attendance at work, but some indication of what can be expected in relation to a particular diagnosis is possible and may assist managers in ...Show more

Summary

Since the introduction of the Health and Safety at Work Act (HASAWA) in 1974 there has been increasing legislation on health and safety. Landmark regulations stemming from this which have had an impact on many industries are the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health (COSHH) Regulations 1988, the Noise at Work Regulations 1990 and the 'six pack' of regulations emanating from the European Community Framework Directive:
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