Chemicals and COSHH
Chemical Safety (Information Sheets)
There's an array of chemicals and materials at the University, some are perfectly safe, others could cause harm to you, an unborn child or harm the environment. That is why before carrying out any experiment at the University, you must always undertake a COSHH Assessment.
This process is essential to finding out what the dangers are of using the chemical and it will also help you to work out what controls you need to put in place to manage any risk. However, never assume because you have worked with the chemical before you understand the risks associated with it because how it will react will also depend on a number of other factors, for example:
- Quantity being used
- How it will react with other chemicals being used
- How it will react during the processes being used
That is why before starting your COSHH Assessment you must refer to guidance so you fully understand the chemical you are working with. Useful sources of information to identify chemical hazards are the Manufacturers Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) and the Sigma-Aldrich database is a good source of such information, and if you can't find information on the chemical don't use it and ask your Supervisor for help. Alfa Aesar also provide a good searchable MSDS database
The following guidance has been produced to help you understand the COSHH Assessment process. The guidance includes a blank COSHH Assessment Form which you can type straight into and a Powerpoint training package on how to undertake a COSHH Assessment.
- COSHH Risk Assessment Form (Word)
- COSHH Risk Assessment Training Presentation (PPT)
- Hyfforddiant Asesu Rheoliadau Rheoli Sylweddau Peryglus i Iechyd (COSHH)
- Biological Hazard Risk Assessment Form (Word)
In addition, a number of Information Sheets have been prepared on specific chemical safety topics. It is hoped these will provide useful information and answer frequently asked questions regarding chemical safety, for example chemical compatibility, safe storage of chemicals etc.
- Information Sheet 1 - First Things First
- Information Sheet 2 - Identifying Chemical Hazards
- Information Sheet 3 - Chemical Storage
- Information Sheet 4 - Chemical Compatibility
- Information Sheet 5 - Emergency Spill Procedure
- Information Sheet 6 - Safe Handling and Use of Chemicals
- Information Sheet 7 - Safe Disposal of Chemicals
- Information Sheet 8 - Globally Harmonised System (GHS)
- Chemical Waste Disposal Procedure
If your School/Department intends to produce and supply unique chemicals then the CLP Regulations will apply immediately (as will REACH). Further information is available in from HSS or:
The Table of harmonised entries in Annex VI to CLP ECHA has prepared an excel table containing all updates to the harmonised classification and labelling of hazardous substances, which are available in Table 3.1 of Annex VI to the CLP Regulation.
The excel table containing all updates to the harmonised classification and labelling of hazardous substance is available here.
From the 1st June 2015 the type of warning labels on hazardous substances distributed / supplied by manufacturers etc changed from the traditional 'orange square' to the world standard 'diamond' shape. Many of the images stayed the same but numerous new warning images were also introduced.
CLP also introduced harmonised warning and precautionary statements for labels, which replaced the old style risk and safety phrases.
Hazard Statements for labels, for example:
- H240 - Heating may cause an explosion
- H320 - Causes eye irritation
- H401 - Toxic to aquatic life
Precautionary Statements for labels, for example:
- P102 - Keep out of reach of children
- P271 - Use only outdoors or in well-ventilated area
- P410 - Protect from sunlight
More information on the CLP Regulations can be found on the HSE site and in Information Sheet 8 as detailed above.
Useful Sources of Information:
- GHS, the internationally agreed Globally Harmonised System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals (NCEC)
- Royal Society of Chemistry