• Introduction
    Hazardous substances are used in or created in a number of processes. Using, or being exposed to hazardous substances can damage your health. Every year, thousands of worker are made ill contracting lung disease such as asthma, cancer and dermatitis from exposure to hazardous substances.

    Risk assessments
    • A competent person must carry out a risk assessment to decide whether:
    o Exposure to a substance can be avoided.
    o Alternative work methods can reduce exposure
    o A less hazardous substance can be used instead
    • Any substance with a hazard warning label has the potential to cause harm.

    1. Your health could be affected by a hazardous substance through:
    • Ingestion- eating contaminated food. People can suffer ill health effects as a result of indirectly ingesting harmful agents from site operations through poor personal hygiene practices.
    • Inhalation- breathing in harmful dust or fumes
    • Absorption: chemicals entering through cuts. Many substances are known to affect the skin tissue and are classified as skin irritants. It is common for signs and symptoms to include:- redness of the skin, dermatitis and skin ulceration. Some chemicals on prolonged exposure may give rise to skin sensitisation.
    2. Examples of hazardous substances on roofing sites include:
    • Mortar/ cement
    • Silica dust from breaking or grinding operations and wood dust from cutting battens/ ply board.
    • Welding fumes
    • Asbestos
    • Isocyanates, epoxy and other resin vapours and mists from application of liquid plastics
    3. Don’t mix chemicals or substances unless it is a safe and authorised process.

    Control measures
    1. Follow your employer’s safe system of work.
    2. When using hazardous substances, wear the correct PPE.
    3. Know how to look after and use PPE correctly.
    4. Ensure hazardous substances are put back into a secure location after use. Do not leave them on site.

    Safe use of substances
    Ill- health caused by harmful substances is preventable
    1. Make sure you are trained to use hazardous substances.
    2. Comply with the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health (COSHH) assessment and the instructions on the product label.
    3. Don’t eat, drink or smoke when handling substances.
    4. Don’t expose others to fumes, dust, gas or other dangers from hazardous substances due to your work
    5. Always wash at the end of each shift and before eating.

    Questions/ notes
    • What are the 3 ways a substance can enter a body?
    • Where can you obtain information about the hazardous substance you are using?
    • What can you do to protect yourself against substances?

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