Many materials or substances used or created at work could harm your health. These substances could be dusts, gases or fumes that you breathe in, or liquids, gels or powders that come into contact with your eyes or skin. There could also be harmful micro-organisms present that can cause infection, an allergic reaction or are toxic.
Harmful substances can be present in anything from paints and cleaners to flour dust, solder fume, blood or waste. Ill health caused by these substances used at work is preventable. Many substances can harm health but, used properly, they almost never do.
Examples of harmful substances
Gases or fumes, including cigarette smoke
Gels or powders
Stale or expired foods and drugs
Effects of Harmful Substances on Humans
What are the hazards? Some substances can cause asthma or other diseases, including cancer. Many can damage the skin, and some can cause serious long-term damage to the lungs.
The effect can be immediate, such as dizziness or stinging eyes, or can take many years to develop, such as lung disease. Many of the long-term or chronic effects cannot be cured once they develop.
It can cause ill health
It can lead to death
It may lead to permanent deformity
It may affect normal growth
Ways of preventing intake of harmful substance
What do I have to do? The law requires you to adequately control exposure to materials in the workplace that cause ill health. This is the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations (COSHH) and means:
identifying which harmful substances may be present in the workplace
deciding how workers might be exposed to them and be harmed
looking at what measures you have in place to prevent this harm and deciding whether you are doing enough
providing information, instruction and training
in appropriate cases, providing health surveillance
Leave in a clean and healthy environment
Choose healthy lifestyle
Avoid smoking or smoking areas
Ensure your foods are well preserved and cooked before eating
Expired food and drinks should be disposed off immediately
Check expiry date of everything you consume
Define Harmful substance?
List FIVE examples of harmful substances?
Mention THREE effect of harmful substance?
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