COSHH

COSHH stands for the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health, and encompasses everything from chemicals and fumes to dusts and gases.

There’s no denying that COSHH can be confusing. From conducting robust risk assessments, implementing control measures, providing sufficient information and running health surveillance surveys – and everything else in between, there’s a lot to juggle.

You didn’t set up your business to get confused by COSHH – and that’s where we come in. Our Health & Safety experts are here to remove the complication and keep you compliant. Get in touch with the team on 0345 844 1111 or hello@citation.co.uk to see how and where we can support you.

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What is COSHH?

Under the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 2002, COSHH is a legal requirement in place to protect everyone who enters your premises from substances that could pose a health hazard.

Albeit some more than others, virtually every business will use substances in one way or another.

And remember, some substances may be harmless alone, but become hazardous when combined with others. Equally, certain processes can create substances that’re hazardous – like fume emitted from welding or soldering, for example.

Under COSHH, as an employer, you’re required to follow several steps to prevent or reduce any potential risks. These are:

  • Identify what could cause health hazards;
  • Conduct a thorough, COSHH-specific risk assessment to prevent any risks from materialising;
  • Implement control measures to prevent or reduce any risks discovered in your assessment;
  • Regularly monitor that everybody is following your control measures;
  • Make sure your control measures remain in good working order;
  • Supply affected individuals with sufficient information, instruction and training on how to safely work with hazardous substances;
  • Where appropriate, conduct health surveillance surveys; and
  • Put together a plan for in the event of an emergency.

Don’t know where to start? Don’t worry, we can help.

What substances are included?

COSHH - Control of Substances Hazardous to Health

Substances that can be hazardous to an individual’s health include, but are by no means limited to: chemicals; products containing chemicals; fumes; dusts; vapours; mists; nanotechnology; gases and asphyxiating gases; biological agents; any germs that can cause diseases – like leptospirosis or legionnaire’s disease; and germs used in laboratories.

Lead, asbestos and radioactive substances aren’t covered by COSHH – they’ve got their own set of regulations for you to follow.

What is a COSHH assessment?

COSHH risk assessments fall under your legal duties as an employer. They should be reviewed annually, each time a new substance is introduced, and whenever any changes are made to a substance’s safety data sheet – we’ll touch on what these are a little later on.

We’ve made COSHH risk assessments seamless with this easy-to-follow five-step guide.

Better yet, we’ve got more than 100 COSHH risk assessment templates available in Atlas – our online Health & Safety management system.

COSHH symbols

You’ll find hazard symbols on the labels of any chemicals that can be hazardous to someone’s health. All symbols are contained within the shape of a diamond, with a bold red border.

There are nine symbols to lookout for, and these are: explosive; flammable; oxidising; corrosive; acute toxicity; hazardous to the environment; health hazard/hazardous to the ozone layer; serious health hazard; and gas under pressure.

In some cases, more than one symbol might appear on a single label.

It’s better to be safe than sorry

Understandably, some substances are easier to identify as harmful than others. However, just because something’s harder to recognise, it doesn’t mean it can be left on the backburner.

When dealing with COSHH, a precautionary approach should be taken at all times to ensure all risks are either prevented, reduced or controlled as best they can.

Symbols got your head spinning? We’ve made them stress-free and simple with our COSHH training course in Atlas.

COSHH safety data sheets

In cases where a substance’s packaging doesn’t go into enough detail with regards to the hazardous nature of it, you may need to refer to its safety data sheet.

Safety data sheets should be supplied by the manufacturer of the substance – if you haven’t got one, you should get in touch with them and ask for their most up-to-date version.

It’s important to note that safety data sheets are by no means a replacement for your COSHH risk assessment, but they can be called upon to form part of your risk analysis.

Safety data sheets contain information like:

  • The types of hazards the substance poses;
  • How the substance should be handled;
  • How the substance should be stored; and
  • What to do in the event of an accident.

How we can help

When it comes to COSHH, we’ve got you covered. Our industry-leading Health & Safety experts will visit your business, assess your current systems, identify any gaps that need filling to be COSHH compliant, and share their recommended action points.

In addition, we’ll set you up on our online management platform – Atlas, so that you can keep on top of your everyday duties – easily.

Get in touch with the team on 0345 844 1111 or hello@citation.co.uk to start taking control of COSHH today.

Associated Resources

5 simple steps to COSHH risk assessments

5 simple steps To COSHH risk assessments

Download the guide

A beginner’s guide to COSHH in cleaning

Our back to basics guide covers everything from risk assessments and ratings to commonly used chemicals.

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Commercial cleaning Health and Safety checks

Our experts have put together a snapshot list of your Health & Safety responsibilities.

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Engineering Health and Safety checks

Head over to our guide for a helping hand with your Health & Safety duties.

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