COSHH Explained

COSHH stands for Control of Substances Hazardous to Health; this is legislation that has been implemented to ensure employers are following specific guidelines that reduce the risks that exposure of hazardous chemicals can cause to health and safety within the workplace. Over a million cases of poising from chemicals occur each year in the USA and Europe, and the percentage of cases occurring in the workplace rather than at home is increasing each year.


People who work with or near hazardous substances obviously have a longer exposure time to them which increases the chances of any harm coming to them. Even though some people will have to work with hazardous substances at times it does not mean that there are not many different steps and measures that can be taken in order to keep them as safe as possible and lower any risk of danger or illness which they may face. COSHH is a set of practical guidelines which was set up in 2002 in order to instruct employers on how they should implement and develop certain measures that are required in order to make sure their work force is able to manage the chemical exposure they face and are supported in their health and well being at all times. As well as making sure that the employee’s rights are being upheld.


COSHH is there to protect the employer as well. As well as the legal aspects of responsibility that the business will suffer if their employees become ill due to workplace exposure, there the risk of the ‘ripple effect’ taking place which will mean that other workers will have the same exposure and this can lead to further illness, loss of productivity, civil liability and this can cause a whole array of problems for the business and its reputation in the market.


The main goal of COSHH is to offer information and educate employees and employers alike of all the different sorts of chemicals that they maybe in contact with and the potential dangers surrounding them. Many people who work with chemicals and hazardous substances are completely unaware of their potential dangers and how to control their exposure and deal with any unplanned contamination. With this information under their belts, employees will be able to determine if the tasks they have been set are safe and reasonable, as well as being legal, according the mandated regulations that have been set up for their protection.


These regulations may take a while to implement and set up within an established company but are well worth the time and effort; they can save lives as well as businesses.

A free coshh assessment template as well as completed coshh assessments are available at

Coshh symbols
Coshh symbols