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Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 1999



In specifying a product a Designer must identify at an early stage in the design whether the substance is hazardous to health and the nature of that hazard. This will depend on the form and nature of the substance whether it is liquid or solid, produces vapours or concentrations of small particles or dust. The designer must establish from the manufacturer or from other sources of information the properties of any specified substance. If the substance can be avoided or a less harmful alternative used then this should be specified.

It is essential to distinguish between substances that are hazardous or harmful during application or installation and those that retain their harmful or hazardous effect during use. The latter should be avoided at all cost, the former should only be used where they can be safely installed and will not provide a future maintenance problem.

Other substances are specified by the contractors on site and some of these may well fall within the classification of "substances hazardous to health". Any chemical substance which carries a label relating to health effects as laid down in the Chemicals (Hazard Information and Packaging for Supply) Regulations falls within this category. In order to control such substances the employer must carry out a risk assessment under the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations ( COSHH ). Information relating to the hazards of each chemical substance and guidance on control measures including protective equipment can be found on the safety data sheets which, under CHIP 97, must be supplied by the supplier and/or manufacturer.


The Control of Substances Hazardous To Health Regulations 1999 (COSHH) have replaced COSHH 94 and came into force on 25 March 1999.

COSHH 99 makes the following main changes:

  1. The schedule listing substances assigned maximum exposure limits (MELs) has been removed.
  2. The definition of “ substances hazardous to health” is expanded to include trigger limits for total inhalable dust and respirable dust.
  3. What constitutes suitable personal protective equipment is redefined.
  4. The definition of “registered medical practitioner” is removed.

Sources of Information about the hazardous properties of substances:

  • Labels complying with the Chemicals (Hazard Information and Packaging for Supply) Regulations 1994 (Chip 2) together with detailed Safety Information Sheets which must also be supplied with the substance under the same regulations.
  • A manufacturer or supplier of the substance under section 6 of the Health & Safety at Work Act 1974.
  • Guidance material published by the HSE or other authoritative body.
  • Published references - textbooks / scientific papers / trade journals.
  • Professional Institutions, Trade Associations, and Specialist Consultancy services.

Electronic COSHH Essentials

The HSE has launched an interactive website that is aimed at helping employers, especially small and medium sized businesses, to comply with COSHH. The COSHH essentials website takes the user through a series of steps requiring the input of information on the chemicals used and the activities they are used for. Guidance on recommended control measures is then provided by the website.


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