20th May, 2019 Read time 2 minutes

COSHH regulations explained: Control of Substances Hazardous to Health

COSHH (Control of Substances Hazardous to Health) is a legal standard aimed at employers. The regulation attempts to reduce or prevent the exposure of workers to substances hazardous to their health.


Which substances are considered hazardous?

Various substances are considered dangerous and fall under the remit of COSHH. A common belief is that if a substance is natural then it is unlikely to be hazardous. However, there are many naturally occurring substances that will also breach COSHH regulations alongside manmade chemicals

The following are examples of hazardous materials to avoid:

  • Fumes
  • Dust
  • Pesticides
  • Paints
  • Petrol
  • Asbestos
  • Mists
  • Nanotechnology
  • Gases and asphyxiating gases
  • Biological agents (if the packaging contains any of the hazard symbols)

It must be noted that COSHH does not cover:

  • Asbestos
  • Radioactive substances
  • lead

Requirements from employers 

In order to comply with COSHH there are various regulatory requirements that you as an employer must meet. We have listed the specific regulations below:

  • Regulation 6: Risk Assessment

Regulation 6 stipulates that employers should not have employees carry out work that could expose them or members of the public to any hazardous materials.

  • Regulation 7: Prevention or control of Exposure

This parameter of COSHH shows how employers should control the exposure to substances.  In some industries, ‘removing the hazardous substance’ is practical. However, in others limiting exposure is necessary through, for example, ample ventilation. The methods of limitation are left to the discretion of the employer.

  • Regulation 8: Use of Control Measures

As an employer to comply with this regulation you must make sure you take all reasonable steps to ensure your employees are using your control measures properly, and are reporting any issues.

  • Regulation 9: Monitoring Exposure

This regulation means as an employer, you must take ample steps to monitor your employee’s exposure to any hazardous substances.


How do I know if my business is complying with COSHH?

For some of the regulations listed, it may be unclear as to whether your business is applicable. Carrying out a robust COSHH risk assessment will help you to calculate what steps to take in your COSHH compliance strategy.

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