Human Resources

Health and Safety

Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations (COSHH) 2002

Using chemicals or other hazardous substances at work can put people's health at risk, so the law requires employers to control exposure to hazardous substances to prevent ill health.

Employers have to protect both employees and others who may be exposed by complying with the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations (COSHH) 2002 (as amended).

Substances covered by the regulations are:

  1. Any substance which is:
    • Very toxic, toxic, harmful
    • Corrosive, irritant
    • Sensitising
  2. Substances which have been assigned a Workplace Exposure Limit (WEL) by the Health and Safety Commission
  3. Carcinogens, mutagens and teratogens
  4. Any micro-organism which creates a hazard to the health of any person
  5. Dust of any kind when present at a substantial concentration in air
  6. Any substance not mentioned above which creates a hazard to health
  7. Asphyxiants

COSHH does not apply to...

COSHH applies to virtually all substances hazardous to health except:

  1. Asbestos and lead, which have their own regulations
  2. Substances which are hazardous only because they are radioactive, at high pressure, at extreme temperatures, or have explosive or flammable properties (other regulations apply to these risks)
  3. Biological agents that are outside the employer's control, e.g. catching an infection from a workmate (if in doubt, please contact HSE for advice)

For the vast majority of commercial chemicals, the presence (or not) of a warning label will indicate whether COSHH is relevant. For example, there is no warning label on ordinary household washing-up liquid, so if it's used at work, you do not have to worry about COSHH; but there is a warning label on bleach, and so COSHH does apply to its use in the workplace.

Summary of duties of the University under COSHH

  1. Carry out a suitable and sufficient risk assessment which identifies all routes of entry and ill health effects
  2. Replace hazardous substances with non hazardous substances where possible or substitute with less hazardous substances
  3. Where prevention to exposure or substitution with less harmful substances is not possible, ensure effective control measures to ensure exposure is below any approved Workplace Exposure Limit (WEL) and for carcinogens and mutagens ensure exposure is reduced as far below the WEL as is reasonably practicable
  4. Be aware of any workers who may have pre-existing conditions such as asthma or dermatitis
  5. Ensure a risk assessment is carried out on expectant mothers, pay particular attention to substances containing mutagens and teratogens which may affect an unborn child
  6. Implement a health surveillance programme where required, including skin checks



COSHH Policy [Acrobat (.pdf) - 99.8KB Thu, 30 Mar 2017 09:00:00 BST]

Blank COSHH Assessment Form [Word (.doc) - 99.8KB Tue, 27 Mar 2018 14:00:00 BST]

Technical Guidance Note - CHM05: Basic Procedures for Handling, Storing and Using Chemicals [Acrobat (.pdf) - 67.2KB Mon, 02 Jul 2018 16:00:00 BST]

Technical Guidance Note - CHM06: Relative Vapour Density [Acrobat (.pdf) - 62.7KB Mon, 02 Jul 2018 16:00:00 BST]

Technical Guidance Note - CHM07: Flammable Liquids [Acrobat (.pdf) - 129KB Mon, 02 Jul 2018 16:00:00 BST]

Technical Guidance Note - CHM09: Globally Harmonised System of Labelling [Acrobat (.pdf) - 298 KB Mon, 02 Jul 2018 16:47:00 BST]

Technical Guidance Note - CHM10: Hazards Statements [Acrobat (.pdf) - 351KB Mon, 02 Jul 2018 16:48:00 BST]

Technical Guidance Note - CHM11: Precautionary Statements [Acrobat (.pdf) - 244KB Mon, 02 Jul 2018 16:50:00 BST]