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.
Employer compliance with COSHH requires eight steps:
- Assess the risks from hazardous substances in your workplace.
- Determine what precautions are needed.
- Prevent or "adequately" control exposure.
- Ensure that control measures are used and maintained.
- Monitor employee exposure to hazardous substances.
- Carry out appropriate health surveillance.
- Prepare plans and procedures to deal with accidents, incidents and emergencies
- 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.
Under the COSHH regulations, a Substance Hazardous to Health is any of the following:
- 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;
- for which the Health and Safety Executive has approved a workplace
exposure limit (WEL; similar to OSHA's PEL's);
- which is a biological agent;
- 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 -
- 10 mg/m3, as a time-weighted average over an 8-hour period, of inhalable dust; or
- 4 mg/m3, as a time-weighted average over an 8-hour period, of
- 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:
- Substances with their own regulations, such as asbestos and lead.
- Substances which are hazardous only because they are radioactive, at high pressure, at extreme temperature, have explosive or flammable properties, or are biological agents outside the employer's control (infectious diseases, for example).
- "Safety at Work, Eighth Edition", Hardcover, 1,064 pages, 2013. Estimated price $99.74. Info and/or order.
- "Chemical Risk Assessment: A Manual for REACH, 1st Edition", Hardcover, 418 pages, 2014. Estimated price $85.77. Info and/or order.
- "Health and Safety at Work: An Essential Guide for Managers, Tenth Edition" (designed for employers in the UK), Paperback, 344 pages, 2016. Estimated price $45.25. Info and/or order.
- "Health and Safety: Risk Management 4th Edition", Paperback, 530 pages, 2017. Estimated price $69.66. Info and/or order.
- "Concise Guide to Workplace Safety and Health: What You Need to Know, When You Need It 1st Edition", Paperback, 409 pages, 2011. Estimated price $92.95. Info and/or order.
- "Occupational Health and Safety Management: A Practical Approach, Third Edition 3rd Edition", Hardcover, 608 pages, 2015. Estimated price $110.33. Info and/or order.
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:
- The HSE's Control of Substances Hazardous to Health - COSHH web site has all kinds of useful information.
- Working with substances hazardous to health. A brief guide to COSHH (PDF).
- COSHH Essentials provides advice on controlling the use of chemicals for a range of common tasks, e.g, mixing, or drying.
- Health & Safety Executive (HSE).
- Chemicals at Work at the HSE, covers all of the major UK/EU regulations - COSHH, REACH, GHS, PIC, CLP, and COMAH.
- Updates, amendments and Northern Ireland versions to the COSHH at legislation.gov.uk
- The full text of the original Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 2002 at legislation.gov.uk. This is not the current version
See also: CHIP, REACH, risk phrases, safety phrases, and the International Section of the SDS FAQ.
Additional definitions from Google and OneLook.
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