Hazardous substances and chemicals at work can put people's health at risk from diseases, such as asthma, dermatitis and cancer.

How to control hazardous substances

The Control of Substances Hazardous to Health (COSHH) regulations helps to protect people in the workplace against health risks from hazardous substances.

COSHH is the law that helps employers control substances that are hazardous to health that could harm their staff.

Hazardous substances

Can take many forms and include:

  • Chemicals
  • Products containing chemicals
  • Fumes
  • Dusts

You will find more information on the Health & Safety (HSE) Executive website.  The HSE has also produced a guidance leaflet Working with substances hazardous to health which explains what you need to know about COSHH.

Advice for employers

You need to carry out a COSHH assessment and think about:

  • Activities in your business that involve hazardous substances
  • The harm that these substances could cause
  • Ways to reduce the risk of harm

You should always try to prevent exposure to hazardous substances at the source. For example:

  • Where possible, avoid using hazardous substances
  • Use safer alternatives

COSHH assessment

A COSHH assessment looks at the substances that can cause hazards and risks in your workplace. The assessment is a step-by-step approach:

  • To identify what hazards there are
  • Evaluate the risks to people
  • For high risks, decide on the action needed to remove or reduce them to small risks

Further information about COSHH assessment is available on the HSE website.

You can use the COSHH Essentials website to help you carry out a COSHH assessment.

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