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COSHH meaning: ‘Control Of Substances Hazardous to Health’. Every organization irrespective of its industry, size, nature of business must be in accordance with the safety and health laws and regulations. Here COSHH plays a very significant role in the safety protocols and health measures for most businesses. If you are wondering what the term COSHH refers to or what and how these safety regulations mean for you and your business safety, read on to find out all that you need to know.

How Do We Define COSHH?

COSHH knows as ‘Control Of Substances Hazardous to Health’ is defined as the combined set of safety and health regulations and procedures. According to this regulation, organizations are demanded to protect their employees from any potentially harmful substance at the workplace by law. No matter in which industry your business is working there is a very strong chance that these regulations would apply to your business because even the companies that deal in the least dangerous industry could be using substances that can be quite harmful to the workers. This could be the products or chemicals for daily usage such as cleaning agents etc.

So here employees must be aware of all the necessary steps and procedures to stay safe and should be able to manage any potential risk that may arise. These employees should be trained enough to implement all the necessary control measures if such a situation occurs and the overall exposure of the hazardous substance, chemical or product to be reduced to a minimum. Here what is important to know is what do we call a hazardous substance to keep your workers safe from.

These substances can come in various forms which include Fumes, Chemicals, Dust, Gases, Fibers, Nanoparticles, Germs, Vapors, Mists etc. Apart from these, it could be any substance that can cause potential harm to the human body. They may be classified or known as a corrosive, irritant, toxic or hazardous substances depending on the amount of danger they can cause.

These can truly cause health issues or can create problems for the human body when exposed to skin, eyes, if they get inhaled, injected, or swallowed. These can also enter the human body via any cuts or wounds.

The breach of the COSHH regulations by any organization may lead to a heavy punishment or fine by the regulatory authorities. The COSHH assessment covers the questions that cater to the concerns, situations and substances that may cause the potential risk and hazards such as:

  • Which are the areas that have potential risk for the exposure of such substances that are hazardous and injurious to health?
  • In what possible ways are certain substances harmful to health?
  • Which tasks or jobs can be lead to the exposure of hazardous substance?
  • Are there any areas and situations to be concerned about while being at work?

Why COSHH Regulations Are Important At Workplace?

Around 1.4 million employees in the UK have suffered from health illness occurred while being at work last year.  There have been many injuries and medical issues such as skin cancer, a lung disease that occurred due to exposure to dangerous substances. COSHH focuses on preventing employees from getting into any harmful situation and allows businesses to reduce the number of work-related health issues and injuries across the United Kingdom.

Not abiding by these regulations and procedures may put your human resource at the risk of exposure to harm and illness that may occur due to hazardous substances at the workplace. Also, non-compliance with the rules is considered to be a crime that may lead to the outcome of the prosecution.

If the employer of an organization hires an employee who may come in contact with harmful chemicals or hazardous substances, It is quite essential to make them aware and train them for COSHH regulations and procedures and how they can actually implement and use the procedures to keep themselves safe and protected from any harmful situations.

How To Observe COSHH Regulations and Procedures?

COSHH Meaning | Identifying and Assessing The Risk

The very first step to ensure complete compliance with the rules and regulations is having a complete risk assessment of COSHH and identifying the potential risks involves at the workplace.

There are some products having labels that have COSHH symbols clearly on them indicating whether they are harmful when they get in contact with human skin or not for the better awareness of people.

This also involves having a closer look at the workplace area and identifying keenly whether your workplace has hazardous substances and how to deal with them having complete precautionary measures.

 Once you have thoroughly identified the hey substances that are hazardous or harmful you just require to keep a record of these substances and the way they can cause harm and how likely they are able to cause potential risk and what kind of tasks and jobs are there that may lead to the potential exposure of risk or harm.

COSHH Meaning | Preventing Exposure To Harmful Substances

After identifying and assessing the potential risk and hazardous substances, the next very important step is to take necessary measures steps and measures to minimize or reduce that risk.

To control the potential risk of the exposed hazardous and harmful substance can actually make your organization a very safe and sound place to work at preventing it from any health-related illness, or any injury or chronic disease and much more.

It is the responsibility of any employer to spread complete health awareness within the organization and ensure the implementation of control measures to minimize the risk of employee’s exposure to danger. Some steps that can be considered to minimize the risk of exposure include:

COSHH Meaning | Substituting Dangerous Substances or Products

One of the most important ways to reduce the potential risk of employees being exposed to hazardous substances is to find a considerable alternative of the dangerous substance that will allow you to prevent the possible risk for your employees.

COSHH Meaning | Using Control Tools

There is many control equipment such as extractions systems, ventilation system, Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), decontamination equipment and much more. These equipment can easily reduce and minimize the exposure to airborne harm that may occurs such as germs, dusts, viruses, minimizing the overall risk of contamination and pollution and potentially preventing accidents while working at the organization and dealing with the harmful substances at workplace.

COSHH Meaning | Having Personal Protective Equipment

There are some situations, businesses and industries where working with hazardous and harmful situation is unavoidable and such scenarios require extra preventive measures such as to provide and pay for the personal protective equipment for employees so that they remain safe and healthy at the workplace while dealing with dangerous substances. 

There are many types of pf PPE such as protective gloves, respirators, eyewear, footwear and much more. It is the responsibility of an employer to provide premium quality PPE equipmemt to employees and making sure that these equipment are effectively protecting the employees from any kind of harm or damage to health.

COSHH Meaning | Keen Supervision

Supervising can also truly prevent the accidents that may occur at workplace involving any hazardous substance and products. 

Keen and thorough supervision can be quite helpful in this regard to make sure that the health and safety protocols are being followed effectively as well as it involves providing any necessary instruction or advice when it comes to dealing with dangerous substances or handling any hazardous product.

COSHH Meaning | Monitoring The Preventive Measures

As soon as the preventive measures are being done and are in place, the COSHH needs the employers to find out how effective and successful these measures are. There are various methods and ways to monitor the progress which includes keeping a record of any accident or injury that happened at the workplace that may occur despite having and practising these control measures, test for any bacteria or harmful virus at the surface and monitoring the quality of air etc.

If the preventive measures prove successful and effective in minimizing the overall exposure to harmful substances you may have the sense of satisfaction that all the necessary steps have been taken to reduce the risk. Ensuring regular monitoring may help you to find out that the control measures have been updated and are relevant to today’s times.

COSHH Meaning | Monitoring Health of Human Capital

While ensuring the safety and well being of the workplace, it is equally important to ensure the safety and wellbeing of employees too. There are many ways to ensure the wellbeing and safety of human resources such as going through employees health checks, examinations, tests, questionnaires that can easily provide you with the data regarding employee’s health and can easily allow you to detect and evaluate the health-related threats and concerns and the preventive measures against them. 

For some employees in the organization, health surveillance is a huge requirement. Whenever the employees are exposed to any kind of health risks, it is very important to monitor and ensure their well-being.

COSHH Meaning | Necessary Training About Hazardous Substances

As an employer of any business or organization, it is your duty to provide essential awareness and training to your employees within the organization regarding how to control and safely use the hazardous substance in order to make sure that the employees in your organization are not exposed to some potential health risk, injury, or accident. 

The employees should know about the health risk assessment organized by COSHH. All the necessary information regarding what the workplace hazards are, how to identify them and what are the ways to prevent and control them from getting spread should be actively provided to the employees. 

Most importantly the safety training that is planned around how to be safe and sound while working with hazardous products or substances or being in any critical situation must be provided to the employees in order to make them aware and safe from any critical or uncertain situation ahead.

COSHH Meaning | Advance Preparation For Accidents and Emergencies

As COSHH aims to offer employees at the workplace complete awareness regarding safety and affective well-being in the organization it is also one of the most important objectives of COSHH to prevent and reduce the number of accidents from occurring.

All you need is the right awareness, information, equipment, and sound and defective plan to deal with any kind of unforeseen situation or circumstance that may include spilling of any kind of hazardous substances or casualties that may lead to serious consequences. 

Because if a situation occurs like dangerous material or chemical is being spilt you may need to have effective arrangements right in place to tackle the situation without making any delay or without any mess that is being created preventing it from causing any further destruction or accidents.

COSHH Meaning | COSHH And Responsibilities of Employer

The employer of an organization has number of key responsibilities according to COSHH laws to ensure the safety and well being of its employees in the organization. These responsibilities include:

Prevention of Exposure

The employers of an organization must have the preventive control strong enough to control any kind of exposure to hazardous substances. This may involve offering employees the appropriate and effective personal protective equipment (PPE) which is quite essential while dealing with any hazardous substance or situation.

Essential Control Measures

It is very important to implement the necessary and effective control measures while dealing with the hazardous substances and ensuring the fact that these substances are being handled with care, are getting proper maintenance and Updation. These substances are in workable condition and are being cleaned when necessary.

Clear Instructions

It is also very important to provide employees clear and necessary instructions, complete information and required training regarding working with hazardous substances in the organization.

Proper Control Procedures

Having the necessary and required control procedures while dealing with the hazardous substances at workplace is really important. It is essential because it allows you to prevent and deal with accidents and emergencies related to any critical situation.

Health Surveillance

It is also one of the keen responsibilities of employees to make sure that the required health surveillance is there to keep an eye on employee’s health and overall exposure of health hazardous substances in the organization.

Ensuring Necessary Risk Assessment

It is also very important to conduct the required risk assessment in the organization regarding the health of the employees by conducting COSHH risk assessments.


It is very important for the employer of the organization to ensure that the exposure and use of health hazardous substances must not exceed the required Workplace Exposure Limit and must not be used by any individual who is not trained and eligible to use the substance.

Keen Supervision

It is very important for the employers to keep an eye on the employees regarding the fact tat they are carrying out necessary training and risk assessment that is being there to provide employees with necessary safety and wellbeing wile working in the any uncertain and problematic circumstances in the organization.

COSHH Meaning | COSHH And Responsibilities of Employee

Employees have also the responsibility to make sure that the task and responsibilities are being handled with care and to make sure that they are using the right and necessary training to keep themselves safe and sound from getting into any kind of trouble.

Ensuring Self Safety

It is the responsibility of employees of an organization to assist and help their fellow colleagues in keeping the environment and surrounding of an organization safe and healthy for everyone. This involves making other colleagues abide the process and procedures of an organization to ensure the safety and health protocols in the firm regarding exposure of hazardous substances.

Policies and Procedures

It is essential for employees to have the necessary awareness and information regarding the policies and procedures within the organization. These procedures must be followed quite well to make sure that the number of accidents is being reduced and that the overexposure is minimized quite effectively.

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

It is quite important for the employees of an organization to wear the personal protective equipment being given by the organization such face mask, eye equipment, gloves and much more to help employees work quite safely and in an effective manner. These equipment are being designed to protect skin, eyes, nose, ears, hands and much more. It is also very important to store the PPE kit in the right place and in the right manner to keep the equipment safely and securely.

Reporting Effectively

It is also the responsibility of the employees to keep an eye on the number of accidents and spillages and also breakages that may happen in the organization while working in certain conditions and to record these accidents in an organized manner to keep track whether these accidents have an increasing or decreasing rate.

Proper Monitoring and Health Checkups

It is very necessary to go through self-assessments and health checkups on regular intervals whether conducted with the organization or going through it personally to keep required check and balance on the health.

Proper Cleaning

Cleaning and showering facilities at the organization must be availed quite effectively by the employees in the organization to keep in line with the health and safety procedures in the organization.

Getting Proper Training

Employees must avail the necessary and required training organized by the employers of the organizations to keep their employees safe and ensure their well being in the most effective manner.

COSHH Symbols And Their Respective Meanings

There are many symbols for hazardous substances but the nine primary symbols are most important to get awareness about. These signs include having following meaning:

Danger To The Environment

Chemicals that may have instant or delayed danger or mishap to various aspects of the environment such as plants, wildlife, weather, or people.


Chemicals and some preparations that may react exothermically when combined with other chemicals can instantly result in combustion. Some of the common oxidizing agents may include hydrogen peroxide, oxygen, halogens and much more.

Corrosive Chemicals

Substances and products that can damage or destroy other substances and are very dangerous to skin or human body when they come in contact by the means of some toxic chemical reaction. These may occur in state of any form such as solid, liquid, gas, mist, vapors, flames or much more.

Long Term Health Hazards

These signs indicates that these chemicals include cancer causing agents and material and these substances may include agents that have respiratory, organ toxicity and reproductive agents that are strong enough to cause the destruction and damage over time. It may include chronic or long term health hazardous substance.

Caution Sign

Caution sign indicates slightly less hazardous and toxic substance that may cause any damage or severe health threat And should be handled with care and precaution to make sure that the preventive measure and precaution is being taken while handling these substances.

COSHH Meaning | The Role of Risk Assessment In Maintaining Employees Workplace Health

One of the most reassuring and important thing for the employer and employees of an organization to ensure and maintain workplace safety by keeping their employees safe and sound at workplace is following the rules and regulations made by COSHH which is quite straightforward and effective process.

All it requires is little focus, time, and commitment to execute the whole procedure in an effective manner. Unarguably the most vital aspect of this procedure is to identify and find out the potential risks, hazards, and danger at the workplace by conducting thorough workplace risk assessment in the organization.

These risk assessment may vary from place to place or facility to facility. The key person or trained expert that may have a true sense of awareness of all the harmful substances that may cause any drastic exposure must conduct this type of risk assessment. These specialists should be responsible to identify and examine all the possible hazards that may occur within the organization and determine and ensure the correct and possible control procedure against that to prevent these substances to cause any significant harm and destruction to health of human capital or within the premises of an organization.

Once the risk assessment is being done correctly and the control procedures are being taken effectively, then it is the responsibility of the employer of concerned specialist to provide its employees all the required and necessary awareness and information regarding the relevant safety measures and preventive protocols and also to make available all the necessary equipment and tools to provide employees with the important safety measures and protocols that might need in any critical or uncertain situation that may prove to be an accident, injury or mishap. It is also very important to ensure that all these tools and equipment and the procedures that re being sued are truly up to date and relevant in today’s time and technology and the sense if technological advancement and inventiveness is there for the employees. 

On the other hand, full fledge training and awareness programs must be carried out with the staff and employees of the organization to make sure that the employees are well aware of all the necessary procedures and protocols when it comes to ensuring their own safety and well-being and also the safety of the workplace to protect both employees and organization from any potential harm.

The organization that may fail to ensure the safety protocols are being met and the necessary preventive measures are being observed correctly for the welfare and safety of the organization can face severe consequences such as fines up to thousand pounds to the employers who may fail to protect the health and well being of their employees within their organization.

COSHH Meaning | How To Effectively Adhere To COSHH Regulations?

A great thanks and appreciation to COSHH regulations and procedures that have stressed enough to ensure the workplace safety and well being of employees within an organization. The Health and Safety Experts have created a through guideline and instructions format related to COSHH assessment for the better understanding and awareness of people and providing them the ease and comfort to work in a professionally healthy environment. These guidelines and steps to ensure COSHH regulation include:

  • Taking a keen look at the complete and specified HSE page for your related industry in which your business is executing and performing catering to the needs of the specific customers.
  • Take a walk around your workplace to closely examine the condition of the workplace and find out which areas of the workplace needs attention regarding any specific health hazard or any problematic concern. Also, you need to make note of all the hazardous substances that are being used at the workplace that can create potential harm or problem for the people working there or damage to the overall ambiance of the organization.
  • After examining the place, you need to identify the human capital that is at the potential risk of damage and danger from any toxic or harmful chemical substance and the people who are at risk of any exposure to the harmful substances.
  • You need to provide your staff with the necessary and required training regarding the substance they use on daily basis in order to keep them safe and healthy and well aware of the products they have to use most of the times.
  • Try finding out various alternatives and substitutes, if possible, to replace these harmful chemicals from the comparatively less harmful alternatives to minimize the likelihood of risk of health or any uncertain situation as much as possible.

Other simple and basic assessment steps include:

  • Determining whether the substance that is being used has the potential hazard while using it.
  • Then you have to identify the potential and probable risk involved.
  • Consider the possible repercussions and outcomes of using the alternative of hazardous chemical substance.
  • Then you have to compare all the options available.
  • After comparing all the options, you have to decide the safest one for the employees of your organization.
  • Then you have to decide upon the safest option that may be present to perform certain task may require the usage of these chemicals.
  • After deciding upon the safest option, you have to introduce that potential substitute to your employees.
  • After introducing this option, you have to measure and assess completely the efficiency and efficacy of these products to find out whether these products are right for you or not.

COSHH Meaning | Brexit Affecting COSHH – How?

After exiting from EU, questions have been raised within health and safety sector regarding the best possible practice to ensure the workplace safety and compliance of these safety rules within UK. 

Now that the United Kingdom has left EU, it is important to know how this has affected the overall COSHH regulations that are going ahead? Despite of the connection between COSHH and EU legislations and regularities, 

The COSHH regulations aren’t likely to see any significant or drastic change within year 2021 and within upcoming years. 

Having said that still some parts of COSHH are still depending on EU authorities, there could occur some minimal changes down the line as time passes.

Some of the changes that are present in place and are organized indicates that businesses of the country are needed to be compliant with the COSHH regularities. The organizations require to keep in mind the following:

COSHH Meaning | Changes regarding Classification, Packing and Labeling

  • All the companies that are British based and deals in supplying hazardous chemicals in the global market are now answerable to HSE.
  • All the organizations dealing in chemicals will be requiring notifying the global market and CLP agency representing labeling and classification of the substances.
  • Companies that are operating their business in Great Britain will require labelling and classifying products and substances that are in parallel with Global Market’s necessary classification and labelling procedure.
  • Users and distributers must have to downstream from European Union and EEA are now being classified as importers.
  • For the exporters dealing in chemical, the European Union and EEA importer is demanded to execute the labelling, classification and packaging for the goods and substances that are being exported from Great Britain.

PIC – Prior Informed Consent

  • The organizations that deal in the import and export from the Great Britain will require to keep in accordance with new Great Britain and Prior Informed Consent system.
  • The present EU and PIC regulations and legislations will be continued to apply in the Northern Island.
  • The importers and exporters are required to include all the necessary details and description regarding the quantities of chemicals that are being imported and exported from EU. Information related to other countries will also require submitting to the HSE during the first quarter of the upcoming years.

COSHH Meaning | Businesses Involved In Biocides

The new regulatory framework that is being developed and has put in place within Great Britain regarding the biocidal products and substances. Here the businesses have to consider the following:

Implementing and applying the approval for biocidal products and substances or any active products that are authorized in EU, Switzerland and EEA will continue to make submission to the European Chemicals Agency.

It is necessary to apply for approvals regarding any biocidal product or any active substance in GB will also be requiring an approval for submission from the HSE.

Business Working In Pesticides and Plant Protection Sector

  • Businesses will now require considering the following points while working in this industry:
  • New applications regarding any active and hazardous substance approvals, plant protection products and maximum residue levels will be required to submit to the HSE.
  • For accessing the Great Britain, EU and NI markets amendments and authorization must be required under both GB and EU pesticides regime and procedure no matter if the applicants belong to any country.
  • The European Union and PPP legislation and regularities are being continued to apply in Northern Ireland as being done in the previous transition period.

Why Do We Need To Wear Personal Protective Equipment?

One of the important and effective to stay safe and minimize the health risk within the workplace area that requires special care and attention is to use the personal protective equipment effectively and responsibly. 

If employees are working with harmful substances or products or potential risks within the organization then the Personal Protective Equipment may prove quite significant and valuable for the human capital while performing such task or going through that procedure. For instance, the exposure to certain substances might happen in several possible ways. 

Respirators that are being used can actually prevent you from chemicals that are toxic and injurious when inhaled. Also, protective clothing or use of gloves may prove to be useful when working with various harmful substances that may cause any skin burn or allergy or reaction to skin that is dangerous or painful.

The organization may have to find out all the potential risks that are associated with the certain hazardous substances and then possible protective measure and substitutes of the products must be find out to mitigate the risk of any harm or problem to the human capital. You have to cinder the fact that whether PPE will provide significant and required protection and preventive measures while still allowing the specialists to perform their job and required task in a specialized manner

It is also worth mentioning that some chemicals might be harmful and toxic only if they are handled with carelessness or they exceed a certain level. So, it is quite important to stay aware and knowledgeable regarding workplace hazards and exposure limits while working wit toxic products or chemicals.

Consequences If You Fail To Comply The COSHH Regulations

There are many substances in the organization that may cause a potential harm to the health when exposed more than required and certain limit and also when not handled properly or even in an uncertain situation. Therefore, it is very important for the organization working in any sector to keep the environment of the workplace safe and healthy for the employees and to ensure workplace safety protocols to keep the employees of the organization well protected and safe health. However, if the employers of the firm fail to oblige by the rules and regulations of the directed by COSHH then they may have to face severe consequences and face penalties due to breach of rule. The maximum penalty includes the great amount of fine and prison sentence up to six months.

COSHH Meaning | Important COSHH Principles

The main objective of COSHH is to prevent any workplace mishap or uncertain situation from happening or to keep employees safe from getting ill health or getting into some serious health conditions by significantly removing and adequately taking measures to control the exposure to the hazardous or injurious substances or products at the workplace. Therefore, COSHH has introduced some core principles regarding the health and safety measures:

  • The complete or partial enclosures and improved proper ventilation and preventive security measures.
  • The ways of working within the organization that may include the poorer supervision and expert proper training that may reduce exposure.
  • Regular and complete maintenance, examination, and proven testing of the related control measures.
  • Regular and much needed reviews to ensure that the employees follow the preventive and control measures.

COSHH Meaning | Regarding COSHH Policy

The COSHH policy within an organization must clearly state the commitment to employee safety and ensuring the workplace sound and effective security from the exposure of harmful chemical substances. The professional advisors, managers and employees should have clear understanding and awareness of the fact that what is necessary to ensure the safety of your individual self and the necessary training and knowledge that is required to provide everyone with clear sense of understanding and awareness regarding security protocols and standards to meet the eligibility criteria of security and health and to provide them with true sense of comfort and ease while working in an organization. Your policies should clearly state that how frequently the risk assessments should be done and preventive control measures should be reviewed. And everyone must know the kind of potential risk that may occur in the organization and ways to deal with these kind of possible emergencies.

COSHH Meaning | Summing It Up!

Following and complying to health and safety protocols and procedures as per COSHH policies  is very important to ensure the fact that employees of an organization are safe and secure when it comes to their well-being and making the organization a better and sound place to work at.

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