We’re frequently asked “What is COSHH?” and as we recently launched an eLearning COSSH course, we thought we’d do a guide to COSSH – understanding it’s importance and explaining what it means.

COSHH stands for ‘Control of Substances Hazardous to Health’ and under the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 2001, employers need to either prevent or reduce their workers’ exposure to substances that are hazardous to their health.


Many organisations and businesses today use substances that could cause possible harm to employees, contractors, visitors and to the public. These hazardous substances can come in many different forms which are defined as:

✘     Chemicals

✘      Fumes

✘      Dusts

✘      Vapours

✘      Mists

✘      Nanotechnology

✘      Gases

✘      Asphyxiating gases

✘      Biological agents


The Safety, Health & Welfare at Work ( Chemical Agents ) Regulations 2001 classifies a substance as hazardous if it:

✘      is toxic, harmful, corrosive, sensitising or an irritant

✘      has maximum exposure limits

✘      has occupational exposure standards


Other substances that are known to have chronic or delayed effects are:

✘      carcinogenic or mutagenic substances


The HSE has a free downloadable guide called ‘Working with substances hazardous to health’ and one here which is a brief overview of COSHH.


COSHH Training is required as it will allow employees to identify, measure and control the exposure to harmful substances, and as a result will safeguard your employees and minimise the risks in your workplace.


A COSHH training course should provide you with:

✔ An understanding of how and which substances can harm health

✔ Knowledge and definitions of exposure limits

✔ Skills to understand exposure and to conduct COSHH risk assessments

✔ A greater understanding of practical control measures and safe systems of work


COSHH Symbols & Meanings

The hazardous substances mentioned above also have international symbols to allow you to understand the different hazards within your organisation.

cossh symbols


If you’d like to take a trial of our COSSH eLearning course, register here.

Our Health & Safety experts would be happy to answer any questions or queries you may have – get in touch with us via Twitter, phone or email.

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