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4th October, 2016

Under The COSHH?

COSHH stands for the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health. There are a set of regulations (The Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations) that requires you to control substances that are hazardous to health within your organisation.

So what is exactly is 'under the COSHH?'

The COSHH regulations apply to:

  • Any substance or mixture that is dangerous for supply - listed in the CLP regulations and which an indication of danger specified for the substance is very toxic, toxic, harmful, corrosive or irritant;
  • Any substance which has been given a Workplace Exposure Limit (WEL);
  • Any biological agents used at work;
  • Any dust other than one with a WEL at a concentration in air above 10 mg/m3 averaged over 8 hours, or any such respirable dust above 4 mg/m3 over 8 hours;
  • Any other substance that creates a risk to health because of its properties and the way it is used or is present in the workplace.

As a side note, the sometimes used phrase 'under the COSH' actually has nothing to do with the the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health, and is said to mean being under pressure or in a difficult situation. But for now... back to the regulations.

Under the COSHH regulations employers are required to control substances that are hazardous to health, through prevention or reduction of exposure.

You can identify substances that fall under the COSHH regulations usually at the purchase stage, you can check the safety information on labels and the information provided by suppliers (usually on a safety data sheet, hazard data sheet or other similar product information sheet).

You should also consider that some substances that fall under the COSHH regulations may not be purchased, but may be produced as a result of your work processes. To identify substances produced during work processes, look for processes that could emit dust, fumes, vapours, mist or gas.

So now we have an idea what substances are covered under the COSHH regulations (essentially any potentially hazardous substances), what to the COSHH regulations require us to do about them?

After all, most businesses will use hazardous substances in some form or another, even an office environment will use cleaning chemicals for example.

The COSHH regulations require a COSHH assessment to be carried out before any activities take place that use, involve or expose employees to substances that are hazardous to health.

By completing a COSHH risk assessment, you will be able to decide which control measures are needed to prevent or control the exposure of employees to substances hazardous to health.

This article was written by Emma at HASpod. Emma has over 10 years experience in health and safety and a degree in construction management. She is NEBOSH qualified and a member of IOSH.

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