Food Hygiene & Safety

What Does COSHH Stand For? Everything You Need to Know

Lead Academy

What does COSHH Stand for in health and safety? COSHH stands for “Control of Substances Hazardous to Health”. It’s a collection of rules designed to keep workers safe when they’re working.

The meaning of hazardous refers to the danger that a product exhibits. Products are made up of substances which are created by some processes. Certain health risk substance are immediately identifiable as dangerous, as is their manufacturing process. Paint, bleach, and dust from natural materials are all potentially hazardous compounds. Employees, contractors, and others may be harmed as a result.

For this reason, COSHH is created to safeguard, prevent, or reduce worker exposure to certain hazardous compounds.

Now, let’s elaborate on what COSHH stands for and what these laws mean for you and your firm, as well as how you would apply this law.

Definition of COSHH

Now, what does COSHH mean?

COSHH is a legal obligation. Chemical producers and suppliers show hazard signs, warnings, and safety advice for dangerous chemicals on their products. To avoid mishaps, hazardous substances must be utilised safely in the workplace and handled with caution.

If hazardous compounds are likely to be present in your workplace, you need to conduct a COSHH assessment.

When was COSHH First Introduced?

The Health and Safety Executive, or HSE for short, first developed the COSHH standards in 1988 with the goal of lowering occupational ill health by establishing a straightforward framework for controlling hazardous substances in the working place.

 First Introduced
HSE for short, first developed the COSHH

Why was COSHH Established?

COSHH was adopted as part of a broader tendency toward bettering and enforcing safety in the workplace, but it was essentially a formalisation of safety measures that businesses were already doing, as stipulated by the 1974 Health and Safety at Work Act. The COSHH legislation has played an essential role in boosting safety standards, increasing risk awareness, and incentivising companies to make their workplace as safe as possible.

blog-starAre you looking for a COSHH course?

Our COSHH training course covers the fundamentals of the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health (COSHH) rules, which companies must follow to safeguard themselves and their employees from hazardous substance-related health risks. It is intended for personnel who are exposed to hazardous substances at work, as well as supervisors who are responsible for assuring their safety.

Why is COSHH Important?

For a variety of reasons, COSHH is essential for business owners. For starters, it allows them to appropriately examine the working environment they provide to their staff, which inevitably leads to a safer workplace for employees, visitors, and members of the general public.

Millions of individuals engage in workplaces that expose them to hazardous materials, and the consequences of bad management, poor safety, and accidents can be deadly. Even exposure to dangerous working conditions can also lead to lethal diseases like asbestosis. Furthermore, Hazardous substances can also lead to occupational injury and work-related skin disorders.

Many workplaces have apparent risks, such as quarries, mines, metal finishers, woodworking and plastics manufacturers. In contrast, others, such as cleaning, construction, the automobile sector, and even food preparation, have less evident risks.

To reduce risk and harm, workplaces must provide information, training, and equipment, and employees must follow protocols so that organisations can save money and be more efficient by minimising absenteeism and not having to replace skilled staff if they follow the COSHH Regulations. A happy workforce equals a happy company.

As a result, the implementation of COSHH in an organisation is crucial.

COSHH Important

COSHH is essential for business owners.

What Does COSHH Cover?

Under COSHH, what is the definition of a harmful substance? That’s what we’re going to talk about now.

The ‘substances’ section of COSHH includes any form of hazardous materials like-

  • Liquid
  • Solid
  • Fumes
  • Dust
  • Vapour
  • Fibres
  • Nano-particles
  • Mists
  • Gasses
  • Biological agents such as germs and viruses

Damage to the lungs, skin, nose, mouth, genes, internal organs, eyes, or central nervous system is also included in the ‘hazardous’ section, as is the danger of injury from combustion or explosion.

What is a COSHH Assessment?

A COSHH assessment aids in the identification of dangers and risks posed by hazardous substances in the workplace. Simply defined, it’s a comprehensive risk assessment that focuses on your workplace’s hazardous material exposure. If hazardous compounds are likely to be present in your workplace, you just need to conduct a COSHH evaluation.

A COSHH assessment consists of five steps:

  • Gather information on the substances you take and how you work.
  • Consider the health dangers.
  • To decrease or eliminate the hazards, choose appropriate control measures.
  • Make a note of your findings and put your controls in place.
  • Keep track of your progress and analyse your evaluation.

Who Does COSHH Apply to?

Employer’s Obligations Regarding COSHH

Employers are responsible for a number of important COSHH regulations. Among them are:

  1. Employers must avoid or control hazardous substance exposure. If necessary, this can include the provision of suitable personal protective equipment (PPE).
  2. They should execute hazardous material control measures and ensure that they are up to date, in excellent working order, and clean when necessary.
  3. They should provide information, guidance, and training to employees about working with dangerous substances.
  4. They should have procedures in place to deal with hazardous substance incidents and emergencies.
  5. They have to ensure that employees who are exposed to dangerous substances are properly monitored.
  6. They should carry out COSHH risk evaluations.
  7. They should ensure that hazardous compounds aren’t used in excess of the Workplace Exposure Limit (WEL).
  8. They should keep an eye on the employees to ensure that they are doing their jobs correctly.

Employee’s Obligations Regarding COSHH

Employees are responsible for ensuring that jobs are completed safely to avoid danger to themselves or others. Among them are:

  1. Employees should assist their coworkers in establishing a secure working environment. This can include assisting coworkers in adhering to their workplace’s rules and laws.
  2. They must follow the measures in place to prevent mishaps and overexposure to PPE (personal protective equipment). They have to put on the proper PPE, including eye and hearing protection. This involves ensuring that all PPE is stored correctly in the appropriate location.
  3. They must keep track of all accidents, spills, and breaks.
  4. When necessary, they have to go to medical check-ups.
  5. They must follow established procedures when using cleaning and showering facilities provided by employers.
  6. They have to stay updated with employer-provided training.

What are the 8 Principles of COSHH?

So, what is COSHH regulations?

The “8 Principles of Good Practice” are included in the COSHH regulations (2002). Firms must adhere to these principles in order to reduce workplace risk and comply with legislation.

The following are the 8 Principles of Good Practice:

  1. Through carefully structured processes and actions, reduce the emission and spread of dangerous substances.
  2. Consider all possible routes of exposure when creating COSHH control measures, including inhalation, skin absorption, and ingestion.
  3. Control exposure levels with measures that are proportional to the health threat
  4. Choose the most efficient and reliable control mechanisms to prevent dangerous substances from leaking and spreading.
  5. If alternative methods fail to offer adequate exposure control, appropriate personal protective equipment must be provided and utilised in conjunction with other control measures.
  6. COSHH testing should be used to monitor and review the effectiveness of control measures on a regular basis to ensure their continued effectiveness.
  7. All personnel must be aware of the hazards and risks involved with the substances with which they operate, as well as adequately trained in the application of risk-reduction techniques.
  8. Ascertain that implementing controls does not enhance the overall risk to health and safety.

COSHH Symbols and Their Meanings

This section will describe the COSHH signs, which consist of nine major hazard symbols. While some of these symbols and signs are self-explanatory or have clear meanings, some require more explanation:


Explosives (Symbol: Bomb Exploding)

Chemicals, compounds, and any occupational incident that could create an explosion are classified as explosives. An exploding bomb is represented by the symbol. It is linked to a number of things:

  • Hazard of mass explosion
  • Risk of severe projection
  • Hazards of fire, blast, or projection
  • A massive explosion of fire
  • Unstable detonation

Flammable (Symbol: Open Flame)

This sign denotes any flammable chemicals or other substances that can ignite when exposed to air, have a small source of ignition, have a low flash point, or produce highly flammable gases when exposed to water. A big open flame serves as the symbol.

  • Gases
  • Aerosol
  • Liquids and vapours that are highly flammable
  • A flammable substance

Oxidiser (Symbol: Open Flame Over a Circle)

Compounds that can cause a harmful interaction with other chemicals during their manufacture are classified as oxidising. A flame above a circle represents this COSHH hazard.

  • Increases the intensity of the fire by acting as an oxidiser.
  • It has the potential to operate as a strong oxidiser, resulting in a fire or explosion.
  • Bleach frequently contains the chemical.

Compressed Gas (Symbol: Gas Cylinder)

This symbol depicts a picture when gas is under pressure. It’s also an example of a hazard that’s been recently added to the COSHH classification system. A gas cylinder is represented by the symbol.

  • When heated, gas under pressure could explode
  • Cryogenic injuries can be caused by refrigerated gas.
  • The emblem is commonly seen on gas canisters.

Corrosive (Symbol: Corrosion on Hands and Surface)

The corrosive sign is used to warn people about chemicals that can harm living tissue when they come into touch with them. The image depicts a chemical leak corroding a hand and a surface substance.

  • Metals are susceptible to corrosion.
  • Skin and eye damage are possible side effects.
  • Ammonia, acetic acid, hydrochloric acid, drain cleaners, and other chemicals contain it.

Toxic (Symbol: Skull and Crossbones)

The toxic symbol denotes compounds that can cause significant harm, even in small or extremely small amounts. A skull and crossbones symbol is used.

  • When ingested, breathed, or in contact with skin, it can be lethal.
  • If consumed, breathed, or in contact with skin, it can be harmful.

Warning (Symbol: Exclamation Mark)

The health hazard sign denotes substances that may be harmful to one’s health. The emblem can also be used as a warning to be cautious.

  • Irritation of the respiratory tract
  • Dizziness and/or drowsiness are possible side effects.
  • Allergic responses are possible.
  • May cause severe eye discomfort.
  • Skin inflammation is possible.
  • If absorbed, it may cause harm. If it comes into touch with the skin, it may cause harm.
  • Damage to the ozone layer may endanger public health.

Long-term Health Hazards (Symbol: Internal Damage)

The icon denotes substantial long-term health risks. The illustration on the sign depicts a person with internal injuries.)

  • If ingested or inhaled, it can be fatal.
  • Organ damage is possible.
  • Can affect fertility and cause miscarriages
  • Can cause cancer or is suspected of doing so
  • Can cause/is suspected of causing genetic abnormalities
  • Can cause asthma or breathing problems.

Danger to the Environment (Symbol: A Dead Tree and Dead Fish)

This sign denotes the danger of compounds that could harm various components of the environment in the short or long term. A dead tree and a dead fish are depicted in the symbol.

  • Toxic to marine life with long-term consequences
  • Pesticides, biocides, fuel, and turpentine are some of the most common examples.
Danger to the Environment
This sign denotes the danger

Why it is Vital to Understand the COSHH Symbols in Terms of Health and Safety

Learning the COSHH symbols is essential for ensuring that you and your staff are well-informed on the hazards that exist in their workplace. Understanding the new COSHH symbols can help you comply with health and safety laws while also reducing the number of incidents that occur in your workplace.


In essence, it is strongly advised that companies create a safe working environment for their employees. Because they are a company’s greatest assets, their happiness will undoubtedly elevate your company’s status to new heights. As an employer, it is your responsibility to protect your employees from harmful substances.

So it’s your duty to bring COSHH into your organisation’s total picture, introduce “What does COSHH stand for”, and apply it with care. To do so, you’ll need to do a COSHH assessment.


What does the acronym COSHH stand for?

COSHH stands for “Control of Substances Hazardous to Health”.

What is the main purpose of COSHH?

COSHH’s goal is to prevent or appropriately limit exposure to potentially harmful compounds in order to avoid illness.

What are the 8 principles of COSHH?

Please refer to the section under the heading What are the 8 Principles of COSHH of the blog.

Who does COSHH apply to?

Every component of COSHH applies if you have employees.

Is Bleach covered by COSHH?

Because it irritates the eyes and skin, bleach is classed as a dangerous substance. As a result, you must conduct a risk assessment in accordance with the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 2002. (COSHH). If you have five or more employees, you must document it.

What is COSHH training?

The COSHH training course provides an awareness of hazardous substances.

What do COSHH symbols mean?

Each COSHH danger symbol denotes the presence of a separate hazard, such as corrosiveness, environmental toxicity, or serious health risks if handled improperly.

How do you identify a hazardous substance?

COSHH symbols are frequently found on product labels, indicating whether or not they are dangerous. However, recognising a dangerous substance isn’t always as simple as looking through product labels.

When was COSHH introduced?

COSHH regulations developed from an earlier piece of legislation, first introduced in 1988, with the goal of focusing more attention on the dangers of hazardous substances and the precautions taken by employers to control and mitigate risks.

Why was COSHH introduced?

COSHH was adopted as part of a broader trend toward bettering and mandating workplace safety. But it was essentially a formalisation of safety measures that businesses were already doing, as mandated by the 1974 Health and Safety at Work Act.

What does WEL stand for in COSHH?

WEL stands for Workplace Exposure Limits. A simple Google search will give you a list of substances which have a WEL regulation tied to them.

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