Health and Safety

COSHH - Control of Substances Hazardous to Health

The Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 2002 is a United Kingdom Statutory Instrument that stipulates general requirements on employers to protect employees and other persons from the hazards of substances used at work by risk assessment, control of exposure, health surveillance and incident planning.

Hazardous substances include

    • Any preparation (mixture) that is dangerous for supply, as above
    • Any substance which has a Workplace Exposure Limit (WEL)
    • Any biological agents used at work
    • Any dust other than one with a WEL at a concentration in air above 10 mg/m3 averaged over 8 hours, or any such respirable dust above 4 mg/m3 over 8 hours
    • Any other substance that creates a risk to health because of its properties and the way it is used or is present in the workplace

Many schools/departments use hazardous substances, or products that are mixtures with hazardous components. Some processes create hazardous substances. 

Preventing / Controlling exposure

We have to prevent or reduce workers exposure to such hazardous substances by:

    • Finding out what the health hazards are
    • Deciding how to prevent harm to health (risk assessment)
    • Providing control measures to reduce harm to health
    • Making sure these measures are used
    • Keeping all control measures in good working order
    • Instigating health surveillance where appropriate  
    • Providing information, instruction and training for workers and others
    • Providing monitoring and health surveillance in appropriate cases
    • Planning for emergencies (leaks, spillages, unintentional releases)

To achieve the above, a process risk assessment must be carried out to identify the actions required to control the risk. The outcome of the assessment should then be included in the standard operating procedures for the process.

Writing a Standard Operating Procedure (Word MS Word IconPDF PDF format)


The Safety Office provides training in the assessment of work with hazardous substances. Please see the Professional Development Health and Safety Short Course Programme.

Related HSE links on each aspect of COSHH


Health and Safety Department

Pharmacy Building (Building 63)
University Park
University of Nottingham
Nottingham, NG7 2RD

Telephone: Telephone: +44 (0)115 9513401
Email: h&