12 April 2002



"Im competent, experienced, trained and have read the product label. What else, if anything, can I do to protect my health and safety when using pesticides?" says the sprayer operator.

"You need to identify and assess the risks from the chemicals you use," comments Graeme Walker, principal inspector with the Health and Safety Executive.

Start with a risk assessment. That is required by the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 1999 (COSHH), because an individuals use can not be covered during the products approval process.

Ask five key questions:

1. Is it essential I use this particular product?

2. Can I substitute it by using a safer product?

3. If not, can I control exposure by engineering controls e.g. by using a closed transfer system or an induction hopper, or using a water-soluble sachet formulation?

4. If I have to use it can I reduce the risk by containing the product, eg by using a catch tray when filling?

5. Do I need to use suitable personal protective equipment, including respiratory protection, to further minimise exposure?

What about other health and safety risks? Injuries often result from operators lifting, slipping, tripping and falling, and from unsafe machinery. Such risks should be assessed and action taken to avoid or control them. That may include suitable training.

"Its obvious and simple things that injure people" says Mr Walker

So dont try to lift or move heavy goods without mechanical aids and ensure proper training in manual handling and lifting."

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