Occupational exposure monitoring

Occupational exposure monitoring plays a crucial role in ensuring the health and safety of workers. By monitoring and assessing workplace exposures to various hazards, companies can identify potential risks and implement appropriate control measures.

Potential hazards

It's estimated that 18,000 of self-reported new cases of breathing or lung related problems are due to exposure at work, some of the contributing factors can be minimised or removed altogether with some cost-effective ways to provide a cleaner and safer workplace for employees.

Many people work in environments where they are exposed to a variety of substances such as chemicals, fumes, dusts and vapours, which could be classified as ‘hazardous to health’. In order to determine how to protect workers from these substances, the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health (COSHH) Regulations impose duties on employers to monitor exposure to hazardous substances.

Hazardous substances in the workplace can include:

  • Substances used directly in work activities (e.g. paint, cleaning chemicals, disinfectants)
  • Substances produced during work activities (e.g. dust fumes from welding)
  • Naturally occurring substances (e.g. grain dust, silo and slurry pit gases)
  • Biological agents (e.g. bacteria and fungi)

Eliminating and controlling exposure

Occupational exposure monitoring involves the measurement and assessment of workers' exposure to various hazardous substances, physical agents, or biological agents in the workplace. It helps companies understand the level and duration of exposures and identify areas where control measures may be required. By monitoring exposure levels, companies can take proactive steps to prevent occupational illnesses, reduce risks, and ensure compliance with health and safety regulations.

Changing the way you work can reduce the need to work with hazardous substances in the first place, or prevent them being created; or you could replace a hazardous substance with a safer alternative. Any one of these simple measures can help to reduce potential exposure.

However, when there is no alternative but to use a hazardous substance, then every precaution must be taken to minimise risk to human health. Engineering controls, such as local exhaust ventilation (LEV) will help to remove toxic fumes from the workplace. There is a statutory requirement for LEV systems to be tested at least once every 14 months, and in some situations they might need testing more frequently. [See article]

Control measures

When carrying out exposure monitoring, they should be carried out on a busy day with processes running normally, particularly when monitoring exposure, and remember exposure monitoring is not an alternative to managing exposure.

Exposure monitoring is measured against workplace exposure limits (WEL’s), which are concentrations of hazardous substances in the air, averaged over a specified time period. These are set to help protect the health of workers, and ideally, they will be informed of the results of a monitoring event in their place of work.

If at any point you are unsure what your employees are being exposed to in the work environment, please get in touch with our team to discuss how we can help, our reports include key recommendations on any changes that could make a positive impact with regards to your working practices and protecting your employees.

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Matt Bates

Business Development Director - Occupational Hygiene T: +44 (0) 1235 437 100 Email
Milton Keynes | UK

Tracey Bailey

Business Development Manager - Occupational Hygiene T: +44 1235 437 100 Email
Milton Keynes | UK

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