COSHH stands for the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations. 

COSHH is the law that requires employers to control substances that are hazardous to health. You can prevent or reduce workers exposure to hazardous substances by:

  • finding out what the health hazards are;
  • deciding how to prevent harm to health (risk assessment);
  • providing control measures to reduce harm to health;
  • making sure they are used;
  • keeping all control measures in good working order;
  • providing information, instruction and training for employees and others;
  • providing monitoring and health surveillance in appropriate cases;
  • planning for emergencies. 

Most businesses use substances, or products that are mixtures of substances. Some processes create substances. These could cause harm to employees, contractors and other people. 

Sometimes substances are easily recognised as harmful. Common substances such as paint, bleach or dust from natural materials may also be harmful.

The Regulations have a hierarchy of control measures which must be followed. Where possible change the activity or process so that the hazardous substance isn’t used or generated, or a safer alternative should be used. The last control measure should be the use of personal protective equipment.

The employer must make sure that the control measures are properly used and maintained. If necessary they must monitor exposure and under some circumstances health surveillance must be provided.

Employees must also be properly informed, trained and supervised. Just having safety data sheets on file is not sufficient to comply with the requirements.

The HSE has information on what the law requires and advice on completing COSHH assessments.

For more information contact the Public Protection Team:

Telephone: 01529 414155