coshh faq and answers


FAQ and answers about COSHH

There are more questions about COSHH regulations and COSHH training course, COSHH assessments and risk assessment than any other subject. Our COSHH awareness training course covers employer's responsibilities to limit employee exposure to hazardous substances, exposure limits and control measures to prevent harm to health. Employees will be made aware of how to read COSHH information on data sheets and protect themselves from ill health.

What does COSHH stand for and what is COSHH? Sometimes people ask what is COSHH and RIDDOR and is COSHH legislation or a regulation?

COSHH stands for the Control Of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 2002, as amended in 2006. COSHH is a regulation not legislation. (RIDDOR is the Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 2013).

What is a COSHH assessment and what is COSHH data sheet?

A COSHH assessment is a risk assessment using information from a COSHH data sheet (provided by the supplier of the hazardous substance). A COSHH assessment will identify hazardous substance control measures to help prevent employee skin diseases, lung diseases and other ill health effects.

Why is COSHH important and what does COSHH cover?

COSHH covers any substance used in a work environment that may be harmful to health. It is important because work related diseases cost thousands of workers unnecessary suffering and ill health costing millions of pounds.

What does COSHH apply to and who is responsible for COSHH?

The COSHH regulations of 2002 require employers to control exposure from any substance that may be hazardous to health. The accountability for health and safety and COSHH lies primarily with employers, but everybody has a responsibility to work safely.

What is COSHH training how long does COSHH training last and how to get a COSHH certificate?

COSHH training, covers how to work safely with substances hazardous to health. Certificates are issued after completing the course and there is no official time limit on certificates. COSHH training covers COSHH assessments, suppliers data sheet information and how often should a COSHH assessment be reviewed. COSHH assessments are reviewed after any change in a supplier data sheet, after any incident, or change in method statement. The frequency of COSHH training varies from one organisation to another, there is no legal time limit on COSHH certificates.

Is Asbestos covered by COSHH?

A good question, it is a substance that can cause harm to health from lung diseases but is not covered by COSHH. Asbestos is so potentially hazardous that it has its own set of regulations. Another example of a substance that is hazardous to health not covered by COSHH but also has its own regulations is Lead. Radioactive substances are not covered by COSHH but are covered by their own regulations.

Is bleach covered by COSHH, is dust covered by COSHH?

To answer these queries, let's answer this question first "what is the definition of COSHH?". Since 2002 employers are bound by the COSHH regulations, to look at any substance used or produced at work and decide if it is harmful to health. Suppliers of any substance harmful to health must provide COSHH data sheets to help employers assess the risk. If the dust is produced during the process, for example a flour mill, then the health effects of inhaling this dust must be assessed.

Under the 2006 amendments to the COSHH Regulations 2002, the HSE has assigned Workplace Exposure Limits (WELs) to a large number of hazardous substances. HSE publishes any updates in a publication called 'Occupational Exposure limits' EH40. Bleach and many other chemicals are included in the list and most dusts are also classified.

The WEL is related to the concentration of airborne hazardous substances that people breathe over a specified period of time - known as 'time-weighted average'.

Is medication covered by COSHH?

If the employer produces medication as part of a process, then it will be covered by COSHH. If a medical practitioner has prescribed the medication for individual use then it is not covered by COSHH.

Sometimes health surveillance of workers who may be exposed will be needed. Health surveillance is a system of ongoing health checks. These health checks may be required by law for employees who are exposed to noise or vibration, ionising radiation, solvents, fumes, dusts, biological agents and other substances hazardous to health.

Health surveillance is important for:

  • detecting ill-health effects at an early stage

  • providing data to help employers evaluate health risks

  • enabling employees to raise concerns about how work affects their health

  • highlighting lapses in workplace control measures, therefore providing invaluable feedback to the risk assessment

  • providing an opportunity to reinforce training and education of employees.

What is a COSHH file and what are COSHH records?

A COSHH file and COSHH records are the same thing. COSHH assessments (or any risk assessment) must be recorded and kept available for inspection. The information used in the assessment such as supplier data sheets should also be kept in the same file. The assessments should all have scheduled review dates and a set of triggers that would initiate a review before that scheduled.

A COSHH file and records may also contain any health surveillance records, PPE issued and any other records associated with control measures to reduce risk from exposure.