Control of Substances Hazardous to Health (COSHH) is an essential part of Health & Safety compliance across many industries – and it’s quite a lot to get your head around. But, what is COSHH and what does it mean for your business? Well, the experts at HS Direct are here to provide all the information you need with our extensive guide. We’ll delve into the world of COSHH, why you need to know about it, and the importance of COSHH for risk assessments.

What COSHH means for your business?

Whether you’re a business owner, employee or just curious about workplace safety, understanding COSHH is a crucial part of keeping everyone at the workplace safe. 

COSHH is designed to protect people from hazardous substances in the workplace. These substances can be found in a huge amount of settings, from beauty salons to construction sites. COSHH aims to prevent or reduce exposure to harmful substances and avoid any health issues they might cause. 

The primary focus of this guide is to provide you with valuable information about COSHH. Risk assessments are a fundamental component of COSHH compliance, helping employers identify and manage potential hazards effectively. So, let’s dive into the specifics of COSHH and its various aspects!

What does COSHH stand for?

As we’ve touched upon already, COSHH stands for ‘Control of Substances Hazardous to Health’. COSHH regulations are designed to protect people from hazardous substances in the workplace. They can be found across a wide range of sectors including: 

  • Agricultural farming
  • Baking
  • Beauty salons
  • Construction sites
  • Engineering
  • Mechanical repair workshops
  • Printing businesses
  • Woodworking 

COSHH aims to prevent or reduce exposure to harmful substances and avoid any health issues they might cause.

The nature of COSHH changes depending on the industry you work in. For example, in the beauty industry, you might find massage oils or acetone, and in construction, you might find hazardous materials like asbestos. Whatever the industry, the objective remains the same – to protect employees, customers and the environment from the dangers of these sorts of substances.

Discover more about what COSHH covers in our blog post here.

What are the different COSHH regulations?

The COSHH regulations have been in place for more than 25 years. The most recent version was updated in 2002 and was re-enacted with amendments to the Control of Substances Hazardous to Work Regulations 1999. 

COSHH regulations cover a wide range of hazardous substances that can cause harm through inhalation, skin contact, or ingestion. The regulations aim to provide a framework for managing and controlling the use of these substances, ensuring the safety and well-being of individuals in the workplace. 

Our dedicated blog post on COSHH Regulations explains the different types of regulations for COSHH and what they cover in more detail. 

What are my COSHH responsibilities?

COSHH places responsibilities on both employers and employees. Understanding these roles is super important for keeping your workplace safe. Here’s a quick rundown of the key points that both parties need to consider.

COSHH employer responsibilities

As an employer, you are dutybound to make sure the following measures are in place in relation to COSHH:

  • Identify hazardous substances used in the workplace
  • Assess the risks associated with these substances
  • Ensure PPE provisions are available where necessary
  • Implement control measures to minimise exposure
  • Provide proper training and relevant information to employees about the risks and precautions
  • Establish emergency procedures in case of accidents or exposure incidents
  • Provide adequate care and attention is given to any employee exposed to a hazardous substance
  • Carry out a thorough risk assessment 
  • Keep a check on exposure limits in conjunction with the Workplace Exposure Limit (WEL)

COSHH employee responsibilities

It’s also important to note that employees have their own responsibilities too. Keeping each other safe in the workplace means complying with the following guidelines.  

  • Follow the provided training and instructions on handling hazardous substances
  • Wear and use personal protective equipment (PPE) appropriately when necessary
  • Work together with colleagues to protect the safety of everyone by following COSHH guidelines
  • Report any safety concerns or incidents to managers or supervisors
  • Comply with any first-aid or medical checks if subjected to exposure
  • Use cleaning facilities in line with official procedures within the workplace

More information on the roles and responsibilities of COSHH can be found in our blog post here. 

How to write a COSHH assessment

A COSHH assessment is the process used to identify potential risks associated with hazardous substances and implement measures to control them effectively. These assessments play a vital role in safeguarding the health and well-being of everyone involved in handling such substances.

The steps involved in writing a COSHH assessment typically include:

  • Identifying hazardous substances used in the workplace.
  • Evaluating the risks posed by these substances.
  • Implementing control measures to minimize exposure.
  • Regularly reviewing and updating the assessment.

Our How to do a COSHH assessment blog post gives you the lowdown on writing your risk assessment properly. 

COSHH symbols and their meanings

COSHH symbols are used to show the hazards of specific substances. These symbols are essential to make sure that people working with hazardous materials can quickly identify the potential risks associated with them.

Understanding these symbols is crucial, as they tell us vital information about the precautions you’ll need to take while handling the substances. 

For more information, we explore the different COSHH symbols and their meanings in our handy dedicated blog post here. 

COSHH risk assessments at HS Direct

At HS Direct, we take COSHH risk assessments seriously. We’ve got comprehensive solutions to help your business comply with COSHH regulations and protect your workforce. 

Our extensive range includes over 80 assessment templates for most substances – or, if we’ve managed to miss one, a blank template that you can tailor to your needs.

You can also download our free COSHH risk assessment template to get started on evaluating and controlling risks in your workplace. We also provide a range of detailed templates for method statements and risk assessments too. 

Got more questions? Get in touch with us today and let’s see how we can help! Just phone 0114 244 4461 or visit our contact page and we’ll get back to you.