Hazardous Substances - Your Questions

Last reviewed on 19/11/2012 17:49

Question: Our Wood Sprayer has developed chest problems. He wears a mask but how else can we protect his health?

A: While having someone off work can be an inconvenience the important issue here is to ensure that your employee does not suffer permanent ill health. If he has to stop working both he and the company will suffer.

Find out if the absence is related to his exposure to the product being used to spray the wood. If it is classified as a hazardous substance under the COSHH regulations, you should have a risk assessment.

Also, consider referral to occupational health to ascertain if his ‘sore chest’ is related to this exposure.

The supplier of your spray must provide you with a Material Data Safety Sheet (MDSS) and you can use the COSHH Essentials website to give you further information on the properties of the spray and the effects it can have on health. Also consider industrial hygiene sampling to determine if the exposure to the spray is above the WEL (Workplace Exposure Limit).

→ Visit the COSHH Essentials website (external site)

You should look at alternatives to using or spraying this product. Can you purchase timber pre-treated? Is there an alternative product that is safer? Can the product be painted on rather than sprayed? These measures will eliminate or reduce the risks from spraying this product.

Personal Protective Equipment should only be considered when all other controls are not reasonable. A dust mask will not provide suitable protection for any sprayed product. A suitable half or full-face respirator may be required. As an employer you should consider adjusting or limiting his work activities until you have an accurate diagnosis, or until you implement additional controls to reduce exposure.

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