This article examines what people need to know with regard to CoSHH if they use veterinary medicines as part of their job.
Veterinary medicines such like antibiotics, wormers, vaccines and so on.
In order to comply with CoSHH regulations it is vital that you prevent or adequately control risks to health arising from the use of veterinary medicines at work. Measures that need to be taken include:
Carry out a CoSHH risk assessment and find out what hazardous effects the medicine may have, if any.
Set up control measures to reduce exposure to the hazard and monitor that precautions are being followed.
Inform and train staff on risks and measures to take.
Regularly review the CoSHH risk assessment as the nature of the work may change over time.
A CoSHH risk assessment will enable you to make the necessary measures to control exposure to hazardous substances arising from working with veterinary medicines. Consider if it is absolutely essential that the substance is used, or if an alternative less hazardous substance can be used instead.
If however, the substance must be used, then look at the hazards created from doing so. It is essential that safety measures on the product or safety data sheet are followed.
Take a look at who could be harmed by the hazardous substance and how. Is it possible that the medicine can be accidentally injected or swallowed? It is important to check the dose and quantity used, as well as the application method. Also, check other people who may be affected such as those who may handle the animal later on.
Check that the engineering controls are the most suitable for the job.
Are you using the most suitable and efficient equipment? For example, finger guards and automated fish injector machines can help prevent injuries when injecting fish. Also, ensure that the work area has adequate ventilation.
It may also be worth using personal protective equipment (PPE) such as gloves, aprons, during some tasks.
As an employer you should ensure that all staff working with veterinary medicines are sufficiently informed and instructed on its usage and are given adequate training.
It is also essential that high standard of personal hygiene are observed. Adequate facilities for washing should be available.
It is crucial that your CoSHH risk assessment is reviewed regularly to allow for changes in work related tasks. Perhaps different medicines have been introduced or new application methods are being used.
Have an emergency procedure in place to deal with accidents and incidents.
Once animals have been treated with veterinary medicines, you must check that there is no continuing risk such as medicines present on animal skin or on wool. Sterilise or replace equipment following manufacturer’s guidance. Also, observe the withdrawal period specified for food-producing animals.
Consider the disposal of all waste and provide containers for sharps such as needles and syringes. Ensure that storage is adequate and safe from accidental damage and where possible fireproof. Storage during transportation should also be considered.
Once you have completed your CoSHH risk assessment, a record should be kept of the findings. Any medicines given to food-producing animals must be recorded down as a legal requirement.