COSHH – Control of Substances Harmful to Health
Completing a COSHH assessment addresses any substances that may be harmful in a workplace, an employer has to carry of a COSHH assessment for employees to work in an area. Often it is defined in symbols (shown left) which show the different types of effects that harmful substances can have on humans. E.g : Chemicals, Fumes, Dust.
Steps to making a COSHH assessment:
1. Walk around the workplace and identify any potential substances that may be harmful with exposure.
2. Identify what about the substances are harmful. Some substances can arise from processes and therefore aren’t as obvious to see or work out the affects.
3. What jobs or tasks will lead to the exposure of these substances.
4. Areas of concern, address an accident book to see examples of previous harms.
COSHH assessments are vital in all workplaces, but there are more risks in some jobs than others. Jobs such as motor vehicle repairs, or dentistry can be high-risk jobs to the frequent contact with different chemicals and fumes that can be made.
In everyday photography practices, the risks are low for a COSHH assessment. In analogue photography, the risks are much greater due to the chemicals used when processing film and prints. When processing a film, your skin can be exposed to chemicals such as D76, so it is suggested that gloves can be warn to lower this risk. In the next process of making prints in the Dark Room, different chemicals such as developer and fix are used to make them. You can find COSHH assessments for developers bought from Ilford, as we use the Universal Developer, I can identify the risk easily:
But when working in digital photography, there are no substances involved with the camera. Hazards can only be caused by the interaction of substances, such as a chemical on the camera, and natural substances such as dust. If the photographer is working in a high-risk place, they should take the COSHH assessment of the environment in to consideration.
Risk Assessments are key to keeping safe in all practices of work. They identify any risks, when they could take place, who may be harmed, controls and any further action. They clearly identify all aspects of the risks so are helpful when working in a new environment. A Risk Assessment changes dramatically depending on location, particularly with a photographer as they can be working in the studio, out on location and anywhere in-between. In the studio, risks may be things such as tripping over power cables or being blinded by lights. Outdoors, risks may be falling over and getting hurt in an isolated location, or dropping your camera. They should always be made before the shoot, which may require visiting the area to identify any risks.