Education, education, education

The phrase 'industrial environmental monitoring' conjures up two main images; one of industrial plant emissions that may affect the external environment, and one which highlights the need for internal monitoring to ensure the health and safety of employees. Mark Burrup, Draeger Ltd, examines the need for training to meet current legislation.

Many industrial gases are toxic, can cause oxygen deficiency or carry the risk

of explosion and, as a result, can prove to be lethal. Typical applications

where monitoring may be required for one or both of these risks can be found

in, amongst others, the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health (CoSHH) Regulations

and the HSE Fire in the Workplace 1997 regulations.

CoSHH clearly states that the exposure of employees to substances hazardous

to health must be prevented or, where this is not reasonably practicable, adequately

controlled. Identification of the potential exposure requires employers to prepare

a list of all chemical agents that may be present in the workplace. This should

include byproducts as well as impurities and limit values. Training courses

help employees to understand how the use of appropriate gas detection, respiratory

protection and fire safety equipment fits into the equation and how, as a result,

the legislation can be met.

Specific objectives

Outlining a practical approach to legislative requirements, the CoSHH course

has a number of specific objectives, not least of which is to ensure that participants

understand their basic obligations under CoSHH. Defining what is meant by a

hazardous substance in the workplace and explaining the meaning of the terms

toxic, harmful, corrosive, irritant and carcinogenic, the course takes delegates

through the differences between Maximum Exposure Limits (MEL) and Occupational

Exposure Standard (OES)

The identification and recording of hazardous substances within the workplace

is demonstrated together with how to carry out a CoSHH Risk Assessment and deciding

what action needs to be taken. The importance of documentation and the recognition

of one’s own limitations are also highlighted along with the need to know where

and from whom advice should be sought.

Prompt action can stop a fire in its tracks and, in addition to explaining

HSE legislation at work, the Fire Safety Training course looks at the theory

of combustion and explains which initial actions should be taken in the event

of a fire. What to do in the event of an alarm is also discussed together with

how to request assistance, behaviour in the face of fire, fire spread, and methods

of extinction, including the elements of a fire extinguisher, how and when to

use a fire blanket, and the correct use of fire signs.

Correct assessment is essential and the Risk Assessment in Practice course

states the requirements of Regulations 3 (MHSW Regs) with regard to risk assessment,

and then goes on to define hazard and risk. How to identify hazards that could

result in harm is explained and an effective procedure for carrying out risk

assessment is described.

The use of breathing apparatus will be required in certain applications such

as those where the atmosphere may be toxic or oxygen deficient. The Breathing

Apparatus Wearer Instructor course includes instructional techniques and describes

the merits of relevant equipment including pneumatic systems. Focussing on the

assembly, inspection, donning and testing of breathing apparatus, the course

also looks at cleaning issues as well as both individual and group instruction

on the wearing of the apparatus.

The need for such training can be clearly illustrated by considering just one

element of health and safety; gas detection. Different applications lend themselves

to different types of monitoring equipment and, unless the legislative requirements

are fully understood, industry runs the risk of choosing inappropriate equipment.

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