Access keys

Skip to content Accessibility Home News, events and publications Site map Search Privacy policy Help Contact us Terms of use

Appendix A9.8

Control of Substances Hazardous to Health (COSHH)

1. Policy statement

We acknowledge that no substance can be considered completely safe. All reasonable steps will be taken to ensure that all exposure of yourself to substances hazardous to health is prevented, or at least controlled to within statutory limits.

Each establishment will:

  • Maintain an inventory, so far as reasonable practicable, by site or building of substances hazardous to health, with appropriate hazard information as a means to identify significant risks
  • Appoint competent persons to advise on control of hazardous substances
  • Identify competent persons to carry out risk assessments on procedures involving substances hazardous to health
  • Assess all operations which involve, or may involve, exposure to substances hazardous to health and ensure that appropriate control measures are applied if elimination or substitution of the substances are not possible
  • Maintain engineering controls (e.g. fume cupboards) in an effective condition by planned preventive maintenance and perform monitoring at appropriate intervals to ensure continued effectiveness
  • Review any system of work, supervision system or any other similar measure at suitable intervals and revise as necessary
  • Inform anyone who may work in the affected areas of the purpose and safe operation of all engineering controls
  • Consider use of personal protective equipment (PPE), if necessary, for the work, or as a back-up measure during testing or modification of other controls
  • Assess carefully the type and use of PPE and maintain it according to manufacturers’ instructions. If possible, minimise the number of different types to prevent mistakes in servicing or replacement
  • Review each assessment annually and whenever there is a significant change to the procedure that may affect the risk
  • Appoint qualified professionals who will carry out health surveillance, when identified by the assessment
  • Provide everyone with clear information and appropriate training on the nature of the hazardous substances they work with
  • Keep any health surveillance records for at least 40 years
  • Inform everyone about monitoring and health surveillance procedures
  • Assess all changes to control measures and changes of PPE
  • Ensure new substances and/or procedures are only introduced into the workplace after prior assessment

Return to top

2. Organisation and responsibilities

2.1 Institute Directors

You have overall responsibility for health and safety within your institute and this includes the control of substances hazardous to health. You are responsible for the overall implementation and monitoring of this policy.

2.2 Line Managers

Your duties under the COSHH Regulations are to ensure the following:

  • The risks to health from hazardous substances used or created by your team within the workplace are all identified and properly assessed
  • Consider with your COSHH adviser what precautions are needed to prevent or adequately control exposure
  • Your team uses all control measures specified by the risk assessments and standard operating procedures (SOPs), and these are properly maintained
  • Where necessary, the exposure of relevant members of your team is monitored
  • Where identified by a risk assessment, appropriate health surveillance is carried out
  • Plans and procedures to deal with accidents, incidents and emergencies are in place – together with associated equipment and materials
  • Your team are properly informed, trained and supervised
  • A list of all hazardous substances used by your team, along with the associated product safety data sheets, are available

2.3 Workers (including employees, students, contractors, etc).

It is your responsibility to:

  • understand the potential risks regarding hazardous substances in your place of work (this information is available in the COSHH assessment)
  • Read and understand all relevant COSHH Risk Assessments and associated product safety data sheets
  • Follow the instructions/procedures set out in the COSHH assessments and SOPs which cover your work
  • Make full and proper use of any precautions/safe systems of work put in place by your manager to eliminate/minimise the risk of exposure to substances hazardous to health
  • Wear/use personal protective equipment (PPE) in the manner for which it is intended, report any defects and withdraw such items from use
  • Report immediately any malfunction or failure in the safe systems of work and/or engineering controls, and do not continue to use these until the faults have been rectified
  • Report to your line manger and/or health and safety adviser any incident involving a substance hazardous to health
  • Report any illness you suspect of being related to exposure to a substance at work and co-operate with any health surveillance programme established to monitor your health
  • Familiarise yourself with emergency procedures put in place by your laboratory, departments and institute

2.4 Health and Safety Advisors

It is your responsibility to:

  • produce local procedures and guidelines as necessary
  • Provide information and training to Managers and to other staff to enable them to complete COSHH assessments
  • Identify and investigate the use of highly hazardous substances or procedures, working with the user(s) to identify less hazardous alternatives where reasonably practicable
  • Assure, by audit or other means, that all records relating to COSHH risk assessments, including maintenance and health surveillance records, are being maintained by appropriate departments/individuals
  • Conduct an annual inspection and review of the management of hazardous substances as an integral part of our Health and Safety Policy
  • In conjunction with an Occupational Health Advisor, ensure that adequate systems are in place in respect of health surveillance of staff or anyone else that may be affected by hazardous substances

Return to top

3. Health and Safety arrangements

3.1 Dealing with Health and Safety issues

If you raise an issue related to the use of substances hazardous to health, we will ensure that:

  • The hazards associated with substances or procedures have been correctly identified
  • The COSHH assessments for the procedures are sufficient and up-to-date
  • Controls in place are adequate
  • Any observed deficiencies in the control of the hazards are rectified
  • We inform you, and your representative if appropriate, of the results of the investigation and actions taken
  • If an identified exposure has taken place, those affected, their managers and representatives will be informed immediately

3.2 Information and training

We will give you adequate information and/or training to ensure an understanding of the hazards to health posed by hazardous substances in the workplace, and the importance of the control measures provided. Information will also be given to others who may be affected, such as contractors, temporary staff, visitors, etc. Managers and supervisors of areas which use substances hazardous to health will be given additional training to ensure effective management of the risks.

3.3 Safe systems of work

It is important that we have effective safe systems of work and properly maintained and adjusted engineering control measures. You are encouraged to report any defects and we will ensure that systems are in place for prompt rectification and/or repair and for the provision of temporary replacement controls.

3.4 Reviews and audits

Each site will carry out regular inspections and/or audits to help identify opportunities for improvement, develop action plans and share good practice.

The implementation of this policy will be monitored through the Joint Health and Safety Committee.

Return to top

4. Related policies and procedures

This policy should be read in conjunction with:

Return to top

Last updated 07/11/10
Amendment 110 - November 2010