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College of Natural Sciences Health and Safety Services

COSHH Assessment

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Under the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health (COSHH) Regulations 2002, a specific Risk Assessment, referred to as a COSHH Assessment is required whenever hazardous substances are used or created during work activities. Under the Regulations hazardous substances include:

  • Pathogenic micro-organisms. Click here for the ACDP list of pathogens.
  • Respiratory sensitisers. Click here for information.
  • Any chemical with a workplace exposure limit (WEL). Click here for a list of substances with a WEL and here for guidance on how to control associated risks.
  • Dusts.
  • Chemicals classified as dangerous to health under the mandatory chemical labeling scheme. Click here for information on chemical hazards labels.
  • Carcinogens, mutagens and teratogens (click here for a list of known or suspected carcinogens).

At the University, you must always undertake a COSHH Assessment before carrying out any experiment.  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:

  • Concentration.
  • Quantity being used.
  • How it will react with other chemicals being used.
  • How it will react during the processes being used.
  • Etc.

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 Oxford Chemicals Data Base, and if you can't find information on the chemical don't use it and ask your Supervisor for help. 

Completing a COSHH Assessment

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. 

Completing a Biological Hazard Assessment Form

The following Form has been prepared to help you understand what needs to be included in a Biological Hazard Assessment Form.

Chemical Safety

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.

  1. Information Sheet 1 - First Things First.
  2. Information Sheet 2 - Identifying Chemical Hazards.
  3. Information Sheet 3 - Chemical Storage.
  4. Information Sheet 4 - Chemical Compatibility.
  5. Information Sheet 5 - Emergency Spill Procedure.
  6. Information Sheet 6 - Safe Handling and Use of Chemicals.
  7. Information Sheet 7 - Safe Disposal of Chemicals.

Other Sources of Information