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COSHH: NGC2 Element 7

This page will provide you with a better understanding of controlling substances

hazardous to health. Work your way through the information and take notes. By the end

of the course, you should have a more in-depth understanding of COSHH.

1. What is COSHH?

Student Writing

COSHH stands for Control of Substances Hazardous to Health.

The control of substances hazardous to health is governed in the UK by the COSHH Regulations 2002.


The term ‘hazard’ is used to describe anything that can potentially cause harm, injury or damage to people or property.

Consequently, a ‘substance hazardous to health’ is something that could cause harm to anyone who comes into contact with it. That could include illness, injury or physical harm of any kind. We come into contact with harmful substances all the time. 

Hazardous substances may include:

  • Substances used in work activities like adhesives, paints or cleaning agents.

  • Substances generated during work like fumes from soldering or welding.

  • Naturally occurring substances like grain dust.

  • Biological agents like bacteria. 

Substances used in connection with work activities:

  • Substances used directly in work activities such as paints are hazardous as they can cause dermatitis if the substance makes contact with skin.

  • Care must be taken when using substances like spray paints as they can cause respiratory sensitisation, asthma and coughing.

Substances generated due to work activities:

  • Substances generated during work activities such as welding can produce metal fumes.

  • These fumes can then be inhaled and are associated with some cancers.

Naturally occurring substances:

  • Naturally occurring substances can be produced when working with animals.

  • Grain dust, animal/poultry dander, feathers and dry waste are all examples of naturally occurring substances.

  • These substances can cause lung diseases and aggravate conditions like asthma.

Biological agents:

  • Biological agents are found in abattoirs or in livestock handling.

  • These substances can cause infectious diseases as a result of poor hygiene.

  • Exposure can be controlled through regular hand washing.

2. What is a substance hazardous to health?

3. What could be a hazardous substance?

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