Everything you always wanted to know about COSHH (but were too afraid to ask!) – by RoSPA

Spill kit2 COSHH

A Guide to COSHH – A Guest post from RoSPA

If you’ve ever had any dealings with any aspect of Health and Safety, the chances are you’ve come across the acronym COSHH or one of the COSHH symbols. However, you may still be uncertain about what COSHH actually stands or what the symbols mean. Don’t worry though, help is at hand with our informative short guide to COSHH.

 What does COSSH stand for?

COSHH stands for ‘Control of Substances Hazardous to Health’ and under the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 2002, employers need to either prevent or reduce their workers’ exposure to substances that are hazardous to their health.

 What are ‘substances hazardous to health?’

 Broadly speaking, substances hazardous to health include any substances that could cause harm to employees, contractors and other people. These hazardous substances can come in many different forms, including:

  • Chemicals
  • Fumes
  • Dusts
  • Vapours
  • Mists
  • Nanotechnology
  • Gases
  • Asphyxiating gases
  • Biological agents

 

 What do the COSHH symbols stand for?

The COSHH symbols are a set of international symbols that allow you to understand the different hazards within your organisation. They have been in use since 1967, with each symbol representing a different type of hazard. In 2009 the symbols were updated to reflect the international nature of hazardous substances. See the chart below for a guide to the new international hazard symbols:

COSHH symbols

COSHH Training

COSHH training is designed to safeguard your employees, teaching them to to identify, measure and control the exposure to harmful substances. A COSHH training course should provide you with:

 

  • An understanding of how and which substances can harm health
  • Knowledge and definitions of exposure limits
  • Skills to understand exposure and to conduct risk assessments
  • A greater understanding of practical control measures and safe systems of work

 Where can I find out more?

The HSE has a free downloadable guide called ‘Working with substances hazardous to health’ – which is a brief overview of COSHH.

The RoSPA Workplace Safety Blog also contains further information on COSHH, as well as other useful posts on all matters relating to occupational health and safety.

 warning signs and guide

See our offer on this COSHH information pack