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COSHH - Control of Substances Hazardous To Health


The Control of Substances Hazardous To Health (COSHH) regulations were first issued in 2002 and are administered by the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) of the United Kingdom. The regulations require employers to control exposure to hazardous substances in the workplace to prevent ill health.

Note: Do not confuse COSHH with CCOHS, which is the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety.

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Additional Info

Employer compliance with COSHH requires eight steps:

  1. Assess the risks from hazardous substances in your workplace.
  2. Determine what precautions are needed.
  3. Prevent or "adequately" control exposure.
  4. Ensure that control measures are used and maintained.
  5. Monitor employee exposure to hazardous substances.
  6. Carry out appropriate health surveillance.
  7. Prepare plans and procedures to deal with accidents, incidents and emergencies
  8. Ensure employees are properly informed, trained, and supervised.

These regulations not only prevent injuries to employees, but can also improve productivity, reduce accidents, and lessen legal/regulatory liabilities. Like most workplace safety regulations, they benefit employers and employees alike.

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Under the COSHH regulations, a Substance Hazardous to Health is any of the following:

  1. which is listed in Table 3.2 of part 3 of Annex VI of the CLP Regulation; and for which an indication of danger specified for the substance is very toxic, toxic, harmful, corrosive or irritant;
  2. for which the Health and Safety Executive has approved a workplace exposure limit (WEL; similar to OSHA's PEL's);
  3. which is a biological agent;
  4. which is dust of any kind, except dust which is a substance within paragraph (a) or (b) above, when present at a concentration in air equal to or greater than -
    1. 10 mg/m3, as a time-weighted average over an 8-hour period, of inhalable dust; or
    2. 4 mg/m3, as a time-weighted average over an 8-hour period, of respirable dust;
  5. which, not being a substance falling within sub-paragraphs (a) to (d), because of its chemical or toxicological properties and the way it is used or is present at the workplace creates a risk to health.

Examples include various fumes, dusts, vapors, mists, nanotechnology materials (which involve respirable particles smaller than 100 nm in diameter), gases and asphyxiating gases, and biological agents (germs). If the materials's packaging has any of the regulatory-required hazard symbols then it is classed as a hazardous substance.

Note: REACH replaced the now-obsolete CHIP regulations. Under CHIP, substances classifed as dangerous to health had ratings of T+ (very toxic), T (toxic), X (harmful), C (corrosive), or XI (irritant)

Substances not "hazardous to health" under COSHH include:

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SDS Relevance

Substances to which COSHH applies will require an appropriate warning label and SDS per the REACH regulations which supplanted the earlier CHIP regulations. Much of the information that employers require for COSHH compliance can be found in the SDS's. You will find a wealth of information about COSHH in the Further Reading links below:

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Further Reading

See also: CHIP, REACH, risk phrases, safety phrases, and the International Section of the SDS FAQ.

Additional definitions from Google and OneLook.

Entry last updated: Saturday, July 9, 2022. This page is copyright 2000-2024 by ILPI. Unauthorized duplication or posting on other web sites is expressly prohibited. Send suggestions, comments, and new entry desires (include the URL if applicable) to us by email.

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