8th March, 2022

The Benefits Of A COSHH Register (And How To Write One)

A COSHH register is not a legal requirement, but the COSHH regulations are. Keeping a record of hazardous substances makes it easy to keep on top of your compliance. A COSHH register or inventory will help you keep track of your hazardous substances, and writing one is simple.

The Benefits Of A COSHH Register (And How To Write One) header image

One of the first steps to complying with the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health (COSHH) Regulations is to identify the hazardous substances used and produced within your workplace.

COSHH requires you to assess hazardous substances, and you can only do that once you know which substances you use and create.

The risk assessment should take into account those substances which are:

  • brought into the workplace and handled, stored and used for processing;
  • produced or emitted, eg as fumes, vapour dust etc, by a process or an activity, or as a result of an accident or incident;
  • used for, or arising from, maintenance, cleaning and repair work;
  • produced at the end of any process, eg wastes, residues, scrap etc;
  • produced from activities carried out by another employer’s employees in the vicinity.

Some businesses use and produce hundreds of hazardous substances. So how do you keep track of them all? A COSHH register is one answer.

What is a COSHH register?

A COSHH register is a record of the hazardous substances you have identified. In simple terms, it is a list. Each entry will include extra information like:

Identifying and keeping a list of all substances used or generated within your workplace in a COSHH register can help you create an effective COSHH system. It is easy to maintain and update. And easy for you to access COSHH information.

Before creating a COSHH register, you need to know how to find hazardous substances. Do this first with the help of our blog post What substances does COSHH cover?

Once you know which substances are harmful within the tasks and activities you carry out, you can start assessing them.

6.—(1) An employer shall not carry out work which is liable to expose any employees to any substance hazardous to health unless he has—

  • a) made a suitable and sufficient assessment of the risk created by that work to the health of those employees and of the steps that need to be taken to meet the requirements of these Regulations;

Your COSHH register is not your assessment. It's a list of the substances you have assessed, or that you need to assess. It gives you an overview - a detailed list of your hazardous substances and the related documents and records in place.

Check out the free COSHH register template for an example of how your COSHH register might look.

What are the benefits of a COSHH register?

A COSHH register or inventory is not a legal requirement as such, but the COSHH regulations are. So having a record of the hazardous substances used makes it easy to keep track of your compliance.

Your COSHH register will:

Controlling hazardous substances is an important aspect of health and safety management within most businesses.

Hazardous substances are used in many different workplaces - from cleaners to contractors, on building sites and in offices.

Whether these substances are high risk or low risk, to comply with the COSHH regulations and meet your legal obligations as an employer, hazardous substances must be managed.

Some substances have limits that you must not exceed. Do you know which workplace exposure limits apply to your business?

Most organisations will hold COSHH assessments for a variety of substances. But without a register, it can be difficult to quickly identify where substances are used, or when assessments need updating. You would need to go through each document individually to get this information.

The easiest way to keep a grip on COSHH compliance is by having a record of all the hazardous substances you use. A COSHH register that you can quickly scan through. You can see all of your substances in one place and identify when assessments need a review or where substances are used.

How do you write a COSHH register?

Writing a COSHH register does not need to be complicated. It should just be a simple record of the hazardous substances employees get exposed to.

You can use the free COSHH register template to create your COSHH inventory.

Your COSHH register gives you an up to date record of the substances used, the activities you use them for and the COSHH assessments associated with those substances. It will also help you identify when further action is needed, such as reviewing your assessments and control measures. Again, this will help you comply with the law, and reviewing your assessments is required by the control of substances hazardous to health regulations.

You might also need several assessments for one substance. COSHH assessments should be carried out for each activity the substance is used in. Different activities will result in different risks, exposure levels and require different control measures.

How you record this in your COSHH register is up to you. You might find it easiest to have an entry for each different way the substance is used or created. That way you can access all the COSHH assessments associated with that substance.

Don’t forget to keep safety data sheets for all substances, along with your COSHH assessments, as these will give additional important safety information relating to the substance.

Documents you might want to reference from your COSHH register include:

If you generate a simple COSHH inventory in a spreadsheet or table, your COSHH inventory can be used to record the location of COSHH assessments within a filing system or other location.

And if you develop your COSHH inventory in electronic format, your COSHH register can link through to the associated documents, making access and maintenance of your COSHH system even quicker.

The importance of a COSHH register is to create a user-friendly record of the substances used. You can quickly access the COSHH data you need when your employees use a substance, if you change a procedure, or need to update an assessment.

Create your COSHH inventory today using the free COSHH register template.

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This article was written by Emma at HASpod. Emma has over 10 years experience in health and safety and BSc (Hons) Construction Management. She is NEBOSH qualified and Tech IOSH.

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