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What do I need to know about any chemical substances?

Are there any other sources of information?

The new European Regulations on classification, labelling and packaging of substances and mixtures came into force  on 20 January 2010.


New symbols with red borders supererceded the existing orange and black signs in 2015 and  have to be included on the packaging of substances.


These symbols give you a good indication of the main hazards associated with the substance.

Other substances that may be hazardous to health include; fumes, vapours, mists, nanotechnology gases and asphyxiating gases and biological agents.


It is therefore imperative that all hazardous substances are managed in a suitable and sufficient manner.


What does the HSE say about how organisations must Control Substances Hazardous to Health?



The HSE breakdown the COSHH assessment process into the following five sections:


Click on each section for further Health and Safety Executive guidance.

1. Gathering information about the substances, the work and the working practices

2. Evaluating the risks to health

3. Deciding on the necessary measures to comply with regulations 

4. Record the assessment

5. Review the assessment

"It cannot be overemphasised that the depth of assessment required depends on the complexity and degree of risk.


Simple, low-risk situations will require little, but high-risk, complex situations need much more attention.


It might take one person two minutes to assess the risks from using correction fluid in the office. It could take a multidisciplinary team weeks to assess the risks in the factory where it is made." HSE: HS G97


The law requires employers to control substances that are hazardous to health. You can prevent or reduce workers exposure to hazardous substances by:

Deciding how to prevent harm to health (risk assessment)

  • Finding out what the health hazards are

  • Providing control measures to reduce harm to health

  • Making sure they are used

  • Keeping all control measures in good working order

  • Providing information, instruction and training for employees and others

  • Providing monitoring and health surveillance in appropriate cases

  • Planning for emergencies

If you use hazardous substances in your organisation, 

can help you comply with the latest COSHH regulations. has a wide range of COSHH assessment templates that can be adapted to suit your reqirements.


Don't wait - get competent advice - email now.

Health & Safety Consultancy, Information & Management

New Coshh symbols

How do I know if substances are dangerous to health?

Every substance has the potential to be hazardous to health, regardless of its toxicity and flammability.


Most organisations and businesses use substances, or products that contain mixtures of substances. Some processes create substances and these can also cause harm to employees, contractors and other people.







Some substances are easily recognised as harmful such as paint and bleach. Others such as dust from natural materials may be less easy to identify.

Coshh 4

Safety data sheets provide useful information on chemical products that help users of those chemicals to make a risk assessment.


They describe the hazards the chemical presents, and give information on handling, storage and emergency measures in case of an accident.


By law  REACH, GHS suppliers of chemicals must provide an up to date safety data sheet if a substance is hazardous.

The COSHH regulations apply to chemicals, biological hazards and dusts and require employers to make an assessment of the health risk to employees


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