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5th September, 2017

Where Does COSHH Apply?

COSHH stands for the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations, is a piece of UK legislation that applies to all use of hazardous substances at work.

COSHH is the law that requires employers to control substances that are hazardous to health.

Most business use substances that are hazardous to health, from cleaning chemicals to creating gases and vapours, so the COSHH regulations will affect some aspects of most businesses.

Even the self-employed need to be aware that the COSHH Regulations apply, even if they have no employees (apart from the sections of monitoring and health surveillance). If they do have employees, then the regulations apply in full.

So COSHH applies to all substances that are hazardous to health.

What are substances hazardous to health?

High risk chemicals and toxic gases are easily recognised as hazardous.

Common substances such as paint, bleach, cleaning substances, inks, sprays or dust from natural materials may also be harmful.

A hazardous substance can be any substance, whether solid, liquid or gas, that may cause harm to health, including:

  • Chemicals
  • Products containing chemicals
  • Fumes
  • Dusts
  • Vapours
  • Mists
  • Nanotechnology
  • Gases and asphyxiating gases
  • Biological agents (germs) - if the packaging has any of the hazard symbols then it is classed as a hazardous substance
  • Germs that cause diseases such as leptospirosis or legionnaires disease and germs used in laboratories

Consider all the risks to health. Harm to health may happen suddenly (acute), such as dizziness, nausea and itchy eyes or skin, or it can happen gradually over years (chronic), such as dermatitis or cancer.

And remember, where a substance is hazardous to health in any form*, the COSHH regulations apply.

* some substances and materials such as asbestos, lead and radioactive substances have their own specific regulations.

Need help with COSHH? Start your COSHH register today with our free template to help you identify the hazardous substances in use, and download COSHH assessment templates for your work activities.

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