B8.3.1 COSHH


COSHH is the abbreviation for the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 2002. These regulations aim to protect people from the effects of hazardous substances at work. Although this is predominantly safety legislation, in the workplace the environmental representative should be involved in the development of controls relating to hazardous substances, especially in terms of storage and emergency controls (and therefore pollution prevention).

These regulations apply to certain hazardous substances. Generally they can be identified by the presence of a hazard symbol (a square orange warning label) on the packaging.

Examples of hazard symbols:


Harmful, or Irritant


Flammable, or Highly Flammable


Toxic, or Very Toxic


Dangerous for the Environment

The COSHH Symbols have been updated. The new symbols must have been put into use by December 2010 for substances and must be in use by December 2015 for preparations:

The COSHH regulations do not apply to:

  • Asbestos, which is covered under specific legislation.
  • Lead, which is covered under specific legislation.
  • Biological agents that are outside the employer’s control (e.g. catching an infection from a workmate).
  • Substances that are only hazardous because they are:
    • radioactive;
    • at high pressure;
    • at extreme temperatures; or
    • have explosive or flammable properties, which is covered under specific legislation.