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What is a hazardous substance?

What is a hazardous substance?

HSE defines a hazard as “anything that may cause harm”. Examples of some common hazards are electricity, stress, working on a ladder, noise or even certain substances.

What is a hazardous substance?

A hazardous substance is any substance that has one or more inherent hazardous property. This includes flammability, explosiveness, toxicity, and the ability to oxidise.

The CoSHH Regulations cover most substances that are hazardous to health - and these substances can take a variety of different forms. These substances include:

  • chemicals
  • products containing chemicals
  • fumes
  • dust
  • vapours
  • mists
  • nanotechnology
  • gases and asphyxiating gases
  • biological agents
  • germs that cause diseases

However, as these substances are covered by their own unique set of regulations, the following substances are not covered by CoSHH:

  • Asbestos
  • Lead and
  • Radioactive substances

Who is at risk?

Simply, those exposed for longer periods of time to a substance considered ‘hazardous to health’ are generally more at risk than those exposed for short periods or to less hazardous substances.

However, certain occupations may expose workers to hazardous substances depending on their work activity. For example, cleaners are often exposed to hazardous substances in cleaning products like bleach and other solvents.

Check out our video that explains what a hazardous substance is:

What is a Hazardous Substance? - CoSHH
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