COSHH (incls. Chemicals and Biological Agents)
- Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Policy Standard
- Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations - COSHH (as amended)
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. It should also be remembered that COSHH doesn't just cover chemicals, it also covers biological agents which are used in some teaching and research at the University.
Please note that some materials require specific authorisations by Senior University Officers, regulatory authorities before their purchase and use, and some may require licences, permits, security protocols etc. This process is referred to as Statutory Notifications and which Health and Safety maintain a database for, detailing all relevant materials and associated user requirements. Please refer to the schedule of Statutory Notifications when intending to work with:
Bacteria Groups 4, 3 and 2
Viruses Groups 4, 3 and 2
Fungi Group 4, 3 and 2
Genetically Modified Organisms
Radioactive Materials & X-ray
Specified Animal Pathogens
Helminths Groups 3 and 2
Protozoa Groups 3 and 2
Because of the potential risks associated with chemicals and biological agents (materials), you must, before carrying out any experiment or activity at the University, consider whether a COSHH Assessment is required and if so, undertake a COSHH (Chemicals) Assessment or for Biological Agents undertake a Biological Hazard Risk Assessment.
This process is essential to finding out what the dangers are of using the materials, how they may interact with other substances and materials, and identify what controls are needed to manage risk. Never assume because you have worked with the materials before that the risks are fully understand or that there is nothing further that can be done to further reduce risk or mitigate the consequences. You will also note that your Chemical COSHH Assessment will ask you to consider the risk of fire, exothermic reaction and explosion.
To support you through this process a range of guidance has been produced to help better understand and use the COSHH / Biological Hazard Assessment. Guidance includes a Powerpoint training package on how to undertake a COSHH Assessment, a step by step COSHH Risk Assessment Form and numerous Information Sheets. The Biological Hazard Risk Assessment Form uses a step by step approach to take you through an assessment - with further information available on the Biological Hazards webpage.
- 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)
- Biological Hazards Handbook
It is essential as part of this that before working with a material you thoroughly research it. For chemicals and a COSHH Assessment refer to the Safety Data Sheets (SDS) for chemical hazard information - the Sigma-Aldrich database and PubChem websites are very good for this. The Health and Safety Website provides further information on biohazards.
And remember, if you can't find information ask your Supervisor for help.
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, disposal 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
- Clinical Waste Disposal
A range of information is also available on the equipment you will use in a laboratory environment to keep you safe when using chemicals.
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 from Health & Safety 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 labeling 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 labeling of hazardous substance is available here.
What are Biological Agents?
The HSE's Approved List of Biological Agents details all relevant materials, including their Hazard Group and which can be used in conjunction with the Statutory Notification database to ensure relevant authorisations etc are in place. University guidance on Biohazards is available here.
New Hazard Labeling& Information - see link
From the 1st June 2015 the type of warning labels on hazardous substances distributed / supplied by manufacturers etc changed from the once 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 hazard and precautionary statements for labels, which replaced the old style Risk and Safety Phrases. Example, Hazard Statements: H240 - Heating may cause an explosion, H320 - Causes eye irritation, H401 - Toxic to aquatic life. Example, Precautionary Statements: 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 Labeling of Chemicals (NCEC)
- Royal Society of Chemistry
- Oxygen - calculating percentage in air after evaporation of liquefied gas
- EH 40 (Workplace Exposure Limits)