Chemicals guide updated by HSE 01 November 2009

HSE has published new guidance for plant operators on hazardous substances and updated COSHH (control of substances hazardous to health) guidance on its website.

Its revised publication 'Working with substances hazardous to health' offers advice on working safely with materials ranging from metalworking fluids to quarry dust and cleaning substances.

The updates come just as HSE has prosecuted Anglo Adhesives and Services, of Melton Mowbray, under the Dangerous Substances and Explosive Atmospheres Regulations 2002.

Last year, two agency workers at the plant were asked to mix a batch of adhesives. They were given instructions on a job card, which told them to clean out a plastic barrel, add two solvents then use an electric mixer. However, as they began mixing, flammable vapour above the liquid ignited, causing burns.

HSE Inspector Will Pascoe says: "The company should have given them proper instructions. There should have been a risk assessment and a safe system of working. They should have been told to use a metallic drum, which should have been earthed. And they should have used a mixer that was suitable for use in an explosive atmosphere."

The company was fined £15,000 and ordered to pay costs of £5,500

HSE's new report (RR 747) can be downloaded at: and COSHHis at:

Brian Tinham

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