Through the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health (COSHH) Regulations 2002 and associated publications such as EH 40/2005, workplace exposure levels (WEL) are designed to provide maximum exposure limits for hazardous substances. These include for example chemical and biological substances which are carcinogenic (cause cancer), mutagenic (damage DNA), asthmagens (trigger asthma) or disease causing (Legionella).
While due to our departure from the EU there is unlikely to be any wholesale changes with these workplace protections, the HSE said:
“We will continue to review and introduce new WELs and are currently developing our long-term delivery model for GB. This will continue to focus on those substances where we can have most impact in terms of reducing cases of occupational ill-health and will consider, where relevant, limits set outside GB.
Our GB model will continue to include a review of scientific data and evidence and an economic analysis. Independent expert advice will also be sought on any proposals and we will continue to consult with stakeholders on any new or revised limits to be introduced in GB.
Whilst we embed our GB approach, we will continue to consider, then apply as appropriate, those limits set under the EU regime that are of significance to GB.”
What is also clear though is that post COVID-19, it is likely that more people returning to work are going to need reassurance their workplace is safe and that doesn’t just mean for coronaviruses; although in the very short term this may well be the case.
It is going to be as important as ever that your health and safety management is not only robust, but visible, to help assure those returning to work, and indeed those managing your buildings that, you have control. As well as COVID-19 Secure this needs to include your wider building environment, air and water quality, Legionella, fire, asbestos and your general health and safety. Verifiable, accurate and independent information is needed and that is something we’ve been providing customers with for over 35 years.