Ever seen those orange symbols on bottles and tins like paint and cleaning substances, and wondered what they mean?
Placed on the packaging of hazardous substances, COSHH symbols are there to tell you about the type of hazard a substance presents. A substance may be classified as one or more of the following 9 types:
Some are fairly self-explanatory, but some are a little more confusing.
You might already be familiar with new black and red COSHH symbols that replaced the orange symbols in 2017, or that might just have added to the confusion.
While there are 9 COSHH symbols officially in use today (the current red and black ones), the orange pictograms might still be present in older stock and past material safety data sheets (MSDS). So really, there are 18 COSHH symbols you may need to know about.
In this blog post we will take a look at all 18 symbols, but be aware that the old orange and black symbols were officially replaced by the new red and black symbols in 2017, so we will go into a little more depth for the meaning of the 9 new COSHH symbols.
The following symbols are the familiar orange and black COSHH symbols that have been around for years and relate only to the Chemicals (Hazard Information and Packaging for Supply) Regulations 2009 - known as CHIP.
Chemicals that at low levels cause damage to health.
Chemicals that at very low levels cause damage to health.
Chemicals that may cause damage to health.
Chemicals that may cause inflammation to the skin or other mucous membranes.
Chemicals that may catch fire in contact with air, only need brief contact with an ignition source, have a very low flash point or evolve highly flammable gases in contact with water.
Chemicals that have an extremely low flash point and boiling point, and gases that catch fire in contact with air.
Chemicals and preparations that explode.
Chemicals that may present an immediate or delayed danger to one or more components of the environment.
Chemicals and preparations that react exothermically with other chemicals.
OK, so while you have probably seen those orange symbols before, they were officially replaced in June 2017 by the new European Regulation on the classification, labelling and packaging of substances and mixtures (known as CLP regulation).
Let's take a look at the new COSHH symbols and what they mean:
Since COSHH assessments are a legal requirement, if you are working with chemicals that are hazardous to health, and completing the necessary COSHH risk assessments, you should be aware of the symbols that are included on the packaging of substances.
These COSHH symbols give you a good indication of the main hazards associated with the substance.
Once you have identified the hazards, you can start assessing the risks to those using the substance and pick the controls you need to minimise those risks to a safe level.