Control of Substances Hazardous to Health (COSHH)

Chemicals and other hazardous substances can have an effect on people's health. The law requires that employers control exposure to these substances to prevent ill health. This requirement extends to both employees and others who may be exposed. Substances that fall into this category include, but are not limited to, cleaning fluids and photocopier toner cartridges.

To gain an idea of how compliant your business is currently in this regard complete our brief self-assessment checklist on Harmful Substances Item H.

The Health & Safety Executive publication "Working with Substances Hazardous to Health - What you need to know about COSHH", provides guidance on how chemicals should be stored and when and how to carry out a COSHH assessment. It also describes how to control hazardous substances at work to prevent ill health and will help you understand what you need to do to comply with the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health (COSHH) Regulations 2002 (as amended) which apply to the way you work with hazardous substances.

The purpose of the COSHH assessment is to enable employers to make a valid decision about the measures necessary to prevent or adequately control the exposure of their employees to substances hazardous to health arising from their work. It also enables the employer to demonstrate readily both to themselves and to others who may have an interest e.g. safety representatives enforcement authorities etc. that they have

  • Considered all the factors pertinent to the work
  • Reached an informed and valid judgement about the risks
  • Considered the practicability of preventing exposure to hazardous substances
  • Considered the steps which need to be taken to achieve and maintain adequate control of exposure where prevention is not reasonable practicable in accordance with regulation 7
  • Considered the need for monitoring exposure at the workplace as part of validating an initial or conditional assessment and for health surveillance and
  • Identified other actions necessary to comply with the regulations.