COSHH FAQs & Resources

As a leading provider of Health & Safety and HR Compliance eLearning, our experts are often asked about COSHH. We've collected some of those questions and answered them for you below...

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What does COSHH stand for?

Control of Substances Hazardous to Health.

What is a hazardous substance?

So aside from the obvious things like a bottle of bleach or acid, you need to be careful of all the substances that COSHH covers, including: 

  • Gases - like carbon dioxide, methane, and environments that lack oxygen. 
  • Dusts - from textiles and paper particles, to tiny parts of soil and coal. 
  • Mists - that come from neat oils or water-based fluids, often used to cool metals when they’re being made and shaped. 
  • Biological agents and germs that cause disease - this covers things like bacteria, viruses and parasites, which are often worked within laboratories, farming, refuse collection and sewage treatment. 
  • Liquids - such as cleaning products and pesticides. 
  • Fumes - such as sulphur dioxide from petrol fumes or burning coal. 
  • Vapours - like acetone, which is in cleaning products and certain nail varnish removers.
  •  And finally, Nanomaterials and technology - which are found in things like batteries, cosmetics, food products, coatings and anti-bacterial clothing.

How might a worker be exposed to a hazardous substance?

A worker might be exposed by:

  • Breathing in gases
  • Contact with the skin
  • Swallowing
  • Contact with the eyes
  • Puncturing the skin

Do I have to lock hazardous substances in a cupboard?

It is a good idea to lock hazardous chemicals away, for example in a cupboard, if there are people such as children or those with visual impairments, who might be at risk of accidentally accessing them.

What are the effects of exposure to hazardous substances?

The way that these substances can affect someone is different for each person and depends on the substance. 

Mild effects can include dermatitis or eye and skin irritation.

Moderate effects include allergies, or viral infections caused by exposure to biological agents

Severe effects might include, someone being poisoned, or developing skin diseases or respiratory diseases, and even have reproductive problems that can lead to birth defects. Long-term or intense exposure can also cause diseases such as cancer. 

What are the CoSHH Hazard Symbols?

There is an internationally recognised system for COSHH symbols called the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals. People who work with hazardous substances don’t need to memorise all this information but just the standard, recognised set of warning symbols and their meanings. View these symbols in our blog - The CoSHH Hazard Symbols and their meanings.

What is a COSHH assessment and what is a COSHH data sheet?

A COSHH data sheet (provided by the supplier of substance) provides information about the possible hazard a chemical presents and provides information about safe handling, storage and emergency procedures. The data-sheet is not a risk assessment and you need to do your own risk assessment separately, the assessment will be influenced by the datasheet but it should be its own document. 

Do employers have to provide employees with copies of the COSHH risk assessment?

Employers have to provide information about workplace hazards, risks and control measures, as well as instructions and training to use the control measures. Employes also have a legal requirement to carry out risk assessments for those with 5 or more employees and record any significant findings. These records should be accessible. 

What legislation does the UK follow for COSHH?

The UK follows The Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 2002. These regulations require employers to control exposure from any substances that may be hazardous to health. Everyone has a responsibility to work safely but the employers have a duty to protect employers from harm.

FAQs regarding our COSHH Training

How long does the course take?

This training course can be completed in just 25 minutes. 

Why is this training important?

This COSHH training course is key for workers across a range of industries. This training is important to help make sure that employees of all levels are able to control the risk posed by hazardous substances, be able to identify different types of hazard symbols and the effects that exposure can have. 

What approvals does this course have?

This course is CPD Accredited and IOSH Approved. 

How long is my certificate valid for?

It is up to the training administrator of the employee as to when training needs to be refreshed. However, to stay up-to-date with legislation, we recommend that training should be renewed every year.​

What devices is this course available from?

Our courses can be completed on a range of devices, they’re compatible with Desktops, laptops, mobile phones, iPads and other tablets

Documents and resources

  • Safety Data Sheet Sections

    A Safety data sheet goes into detail about the substance - and even though different industries and brands make them look different - all Safety Data Sheets follow the same rules. They have 16 sections, and even though we’ve found a couple of anomalies in our research, the titles of the sections should be the same across the board.

  • COSHH Hazard Symbols

    The GHS and CLP regulations use various symbols to identify the hazards that are posed by different chemicals, find out what they are in this useful resource.

  • What is a hazardous Substance?

    In this video (from our Online CoSHH Training programme)  we take a look at the substances that are hazardous to health, some will probaby surprise you.

Additional resources

A beginners guide to COSHH...

Understand risk assessments, ratings and commonly used chemicals.

We've partnered with Citation to provide you with a short guide on COSHH, the dangers of hazardous substances and how you can take the stress out of COSHH.

Made in Partnership with Citation

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