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May 2015
Code of Practice and
for the
Control of Substances
Hazardous to Health
May 2015
Code of Practice and Guidance
Location of COSHH Substances
How Substances are Hazardous to Health
Classification of Hazardous Substances
Classification Labelling and Packaging Regulations
Hazard Labels
Use, Storage and Handling of Chemicals / Dangerous substances
Control of Dust
Health Surveillance
Information and Training for Staff and Students.
May 2015
1. Code of Practice and Guidance
Work that could expose staff or learners to hazardous substances must not be carried out unless both
the risks have been assessed and necessary precautions have been implemented. The following
sections list the requirements in relation to hazardous substances that should be taken into account
when carrying out an assessment and devising a safe system of work
Substance Identification and Knowledge
All substances, be they solid, liquid or gas/vapour, should be treated as potentially
hazardous, they should never be used until they have been clearly identified and the
supplier's safety data sheets have been received and read.
All information and warning symbols contained on labels and in other sources of data
must be heeded. Where labels only refer to the 'class' of chemical that the substance
belongs to, more detailed information should be obtained.
When a new supplier is used for a substance that replaces a previously used
substance, never assume they have the same formula or that the directions for use
are the same. Always obtain specific information.
Regularly review manufacturers/suppliers information, as the chemical formula of
products are often varied over a period of time and because new health and safety
data may become available.
A register of information on all substances used should be established - all staff should
know where the register is kept and be able to refer to it in the event of an emergency.
Precautions - Hierarchy of Control
When a COSHH assessment has been completed, the following hierarchy of control
measures should be implemented, to ensure that the risk is reduced as low as is
reasonably practicable:
 Elimination – eliminate the need to use the substance by changing the process
 Substitution – Substitute the substance for one with less hazardous properties
 Isolation/Containment – remove the substance from contact with people or vice
 Local Exhaust Ventilation (LEV) – use ventilation at the source of the substance to
remove any hazardous fumes/dust/vapours
 Administrative controls – change the way the substance is used e.g. limit time or
number of people exposed
 Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) – this should only be used as a last resort when
all other control measures have been assessed unless otherwise specified
Where additional control measures are identified, these should be recorded as part of
the risk assessment.
May 2015
All mechanical ventilation systems must be maintained and tested according to the
relevant statutory requirements. Records of all maintenance and testing schedules
should be kept in the departments Health and Safety Red File.
2. Location of COSHH Substances
Areas within the college where these types of substances are likely to be used:
 Science
- large range of chemicals etc.
 Art & Design - inks, dyes, adhesives, plastics, glazes, spray paint, solvents.
 Photography - developers, fixers, adhesives.
 Workshops - paints, adhesives, varnishes, sealers, solvents, cement products,
engineering fluids, plastics, degreasers.
 Printing
- inks, washes etc.
 General
- cleaning materials, bleaches, etc.
 Kitchens
- cleaning substances (ovens, floors etc.)
 Hair & Beauty - colouring & bleaching agents, beauty preparations, etc.
Although the COSHH regulations do not apply to the domestic use of such substances in the private
household, as soon as they are used on college premises (place of work) they become applicable.
As such it is important therefore that any substances staff or students bring onto the college
premises to use must be assessed as above.
There are separate licensing regulations covering the use and storage of petroleum spirits and
industrial spirits (alcohol) at home and at work.
3. How Substances Are Hazardous to Health
There are 4 main routes harmful substances can enter the body.
Inhalation - breathing in vapours, gasses, dusts and fumes. Ventilation should be
adequate. In specific situations local exhaust ventilation or respiratory
protective equipment may be required.
 Ingestion - eating or drinking substances or foods contaminated by hazardous
substances. For this reason Substances must never be stored or mixed in
any type of food container or stored in any fridge that is not designated and
labelled solely for this use.
 Absorption - chemicals that come in contact with skin can be absorbed into the body
causing harm to internal organs. Eyes are one of the easiest entry points
into the body for chemicals as they absorb fumes, vapours, dust as well as
 Injection liquids, solids or gasses through the skin either by puncture wounds or
through cuts.
It is important to identify how a harmful substance can enter the body to ensure the correct control
measures are used and where necessary the correct personal protective equipment (PPE) is
May 2015
It may take many years before the exposure to harmful substances becomes apparent, therefore it is
imperative you understand the risk posed to you by the substances you use.
Remember just because you can’t see the danger doesn’t mean it isn’t there.
4. Classification of Hazardous Substances
Hazardous substances cover a wide range of products including paint, dyes, solvents, varnishes,
solutions used in photography, oils, cleaning substances, toners for PCs and photocopying machines,
wood dust and hair dressing products. These are only examples; the range of products is very diverse.
The wide range of hazardous substances may be categorised and referred to by the following terms
Dangerous due to their potential to rapidly release energy
or due to the harmful effects of their products as a result
of explosion or burning.
Substances which on inhalation, ingestion or absorption
through the skin are a health risk.
Substances that adversely affect the skin or respiration or
can lead to allergic effects.
Chemicals which will chemically attack material or parts of
the body
Substances that interfere or restrict bodily functions (e.g.
kidneys, liver) such as chlorinated solvents & heavy
Vapours or gases which reduce the oxygen content of the
air or prevent its effective use by the body.
Substances that depress the function of the brain.
Substances that provoke an exothermic reaction when in
contact with other substances.
5. Classification Labelling and Packaging Regulations (CLP)
From the 1st June 2015 the CLP regulations came into full force following an introductory period
lasting several years. This time delay was to allow manufacturers and suppliers time to phase in the
new globalised labelling system. This is now complete and the following labels will be used on all
new chemical based products. When dispensing from stock bottles into smaller suitable containers,
you must ensure that the new labels are used in order to identify the hazards and also that your
CoSHH assessments reflect any changes in category. Please see the table below.
May 2015
6. Hazard Labels
Dangerous to the environment - as before this refers to a substance which if
it were to enter the environment would present or may present immediate or
delayed damage for one or more components of the environment.
Example – Toxic to aquatic life with long lasting effects.
Explosive - this refers to a substance which may explode under the effect of a
flame or if subjected to shocks or friction.
Example – Heating may cause explosion.
Flammable - unlike the previous labels the wording of flammable and highly
flammable will be removed and conformation of the degree of flammability for
individual substances will be included on the label.
Example – Heating may cause fire.
Oxidising - denotes a substance which releases a lot of heat while it reacts with
other substances, particularly flammable substances.
Example – May intensify fire; oxidiser.
Gas under pressure - this will replace the existing red or green labels that are
currently in use
Example – Contains gas under pressure; may explode when heated.
Corrosive - This is as before, but there will be more information on the affects
the substance may have on metal as well as its destructive effects on living
Example – Causes serious eye damage.
Toxic - as with the flammable symbol there will no longer be additional warnings
on the pictogram as to whether it is toxic or very toxic. This information will be
included on the container label.
Example – Toxic if swallowed.
Caution - this replaces the harmful and irritant labels and is used for less serious
health hazards like skin irritation.
Example – May cause an allergic skin reaction.
Longer term health hazards - This pictogram reflects serious longer term
health hazards such as carcinogenicity and respiratory sensitisation.
Example – May cause allergy or asthma symptoms or breathing difficulties if
May 2015
Here are some frequently asked questions at the new labelling that you might find helpful
1. Why are we getting chemicals from suppliers with new labels?
Suppliers are now required to label new stocks of chemicals using the Classification,
Labelling and Packing Regulations (CLP).
2. What is different about the new labels?
The new symbols will be printed in black on a white background within a red diamond
frame. They may be accompanied by a signal word and are always accompanied by hazard
statements and precautionary statements.
3. What is a signal word?
The signal word alerts the user to the severity of the hazard.
• Danger indicates more severe hazards.
• Warning indicates less severe hazards.
• No signal word indicates low hazard although there may still be hazard statements.
Where several hazards requiring signal words are present, only the signal word for the most
severe hazard will be displayed.
4. What are the new CLP symbols?
Many look similar to the old orange and black ones, though they may cover a different range
of hazards. However there are three completely new symbols
5. Do the new symbols mean the same as the old ones?
No. The new system includes some redefinition of hazards, which means that for some
chemicals the labels may appear very different. This does not mean that the substance has
become more or less hazardous but that the way its hazard is classified has changed. This
makes a straightforward comparison between the two systems very difficult.
6. What is a hazard (H) statement?
The ‘H’ statements describe the nature (and where appropriate, the severity) of the hazard.
These are similar to the ‘risk statements’ (R numbers) in the CHIP system. In addition the EU
has introduced some supplementary statements, prefixed EUH, eg, EUH066: “Repeated
exposure may cause skin dryness or cracking”. Suppliers’ catalogues will display a list that
includes H and EUH statements.
7. What has happened to the harmful / irritant symbol?
The ‘X’ symbol for HARMFUL and IRRITANT will no longer be used. These hazards are
subsumed within the CLP acutely toxic, corrosive or moderate hazard symbols depending on
the type of hazard(s).
May 2015
8. What has happened to the toxic label?
Substances labelled as toxic in the CHIP system may now be classified differently. Under the
new CLP system, substances with health effects that manifest themselves in the longer term
are labelled with the Health hazard including carcinogen symbol.
9. How does concentration affect the hazard?
When a solution is diluted it becomes less hazardous. This will be indicated by changes in the
signal word from DANGER to WARNING or even to no signal word if appropriate, and in the
hazard statements. CLEAPSS is working on information relating concentration to the hazards
for chemicals commonly used in schools.
10. Do we have to change all the labels on our stock chemicals?
No. If you find it helpful to see the old CHIP symbols alongside the new CLP ones while you
get used to
11. Should we use the new CLP symbols in our teaching?
Legally, the CLP system is now the ‘correct system’. Students will increasingly meet the CLP
symbols on everyday substances and colleges are well placed to help students to understand
12. What about text books?
Existing text books and other curriculum resources will feature the old CHIP system. New
publications and examination papers should begin to use the new CLP system. Inevitably,
there will be inconsistencies while organisations change between the two.
May 2015
Old style labels that may still be in use
This symbol with the word "explosive" denotes a substance which may explode under the effect of a
flame or if subjected to shocks or friction.
This symbol with the word "oxidizing" denotes a substance which releases a lot of heat while it reacts
with other substances, particularly flammable substances.
This symbol with the word "toxic " denotes a highly hazardous substance. The decision to use the word
"toxic " is based on LD 50 values (substance that kills up to 50 per cent of a sample of laboratory test
animals within a specified period). Therefore, extreme caution is necessary in the use of these
agrochemicals and instructions on the label must be strictly followed.
This symbol with the words "very toxic" is used to label a substance which, if it is inhaled or ingested or if
it penetrates the skin, may involve extremely serious, acute (immediate) or chronic (longer-term) health
risks and even death.
This symbol with the words "highly flammable " denotes a substance which:
- May become hot and finally catch fire in contact with air at ambient temperature; is a solid and may
readily catch fire after brief contact with the source of ignition and which continues to bum or to be
consumed after removal of the source of ignition
- Is a gas and bums in air at normal pressure
- In contact with water or damp air releases highly flammable gases in dangerous quantities
- Is a liquid that would catch fire with slight warning and exposure to a flame.
This symbol with the words "extremely flammable" denotes a liquid that would boil at body temperature
and would catch fire if exposed to a flame.
This symbol with the word "harmful" should appear on the label of a substance which, if it is inhaled or
ingested or if it penetrates the skin, may involve limited health risks.
The same symbol as for "harmful" but with the word "irritant" is meant for a non-corrosive substance
which, through immediate, prolonged or repeated contact with the skin or mucous membrane, can cause
This symbol with the word “corrosive" will be found on the label of a substance which may destroy living
tissues on contact with them. Severe bums on the skin and flesh might result from splashes of such
substances on the body.
Refers to a substance which if it were to enter the environment would present or may present
immediate or delayed damage for one or more components of the environment.
May 2015
7. Use, Storage and Handling of Chemicals/Dangerous Substances
Control of Chemicals/Dangerous Substances
Each department shall produce and maintain a list of all their chemicals/dangerous substances held
and shall ensure that knowledge of hazards and disposal methods associated with the use of these
substances are made known to all users.
Each department shall pay particular attention to the requirement for adequate staff training where
the use of chemicals/dangerous substances is concerned and shall seek the advice of the College
Health and Safety Team on suitable training courses as necessary.
Use of Chemicals
It is the responsibility of all staff who use chemicals/dangerous substances to familiarise themselves
with this code of practice, to abide by the rules given and to use the protective equipment provided.
It is the responsibility of college managers and their curriculum leaders or support staff supervisors to
ensure that staff receive the correct training and adhere to the COSHH assessment controls
Handling and Mixing
Substances should never be mixed or diluted unless the manufacturers / suppliers
data shows that it is safe to do so. When diluting chemicals, unless the
manufacturers/supplier's information specifically warns otherwise, chemicals should
always be added to the dilutant, not the dilutant to the chemical.
Containers used for diluting or mixing substances must be thoroughly cleaned before
use and must be of suitable construction made from compatible materials.
Areas in which mixing or diluting takes place should be well ventilated.
Any spillages should be immediately attended to.
Where substances are transferred from container to container the new container
must be appropriately labelled, anyone coming into contact with the product must be
aware of its hazards and the precautions necessary to keep risks to a minimum.
Waste & Disposal
The disposal of chemical waste is controlled by legislation. There are special ways to dispose
of waste and these must be clearly understood and followed.
(a) Waste substances should be identified, stored and handled in a similar manner to supply
substances with all staff and learners aware of the associated hazards and the necessary
precautions to be taken.
May 2015
(b) The disposal of hazardous material in an uncontrolled manner (e.g. by pouring it down a
drain or by placing it in the general refuse skip) is an offence and the College may be liable
for prosecution if this occurs.
(c) Depending upon the nature or quantity of substance, it may be necessary for waste
substances to be disposed of by a licensed and approved waste contractor. Please contact
facilities for further advice.
Personal Protective Clothing and Equipment (PPE)
PPE should only be used where it is not reasonably practicable to use engineering control
methods. However, where the task necessitates use ensure that:
a) appropriate types of PPE i.e. goggles, gloves, overalls, etc., are worn when using or handling
chemicals or substances. Remember gloves have a break through time for chemical exposure,
are which time they will no longer provide adequate protection. Some chemicals will require
the use of goggles and not safety glasses.
b) where more than one item of PPE is used, the different items are compatible with each other.
c) users of PPE are properly trained to use the equipment in accordance with the correct
d) any respiratory protective equipment (RPE) provided is the correct type for the substance in
use and complies with relevant BS EN number.
e) the RPE fits the wearer correctly (face fit tested) and is maintained and examined effectively.
the wearer has no history of airway/breathing difficulties e.g. Asthma, hay fever etc.
g) the RPE is cleaned and disinfected after use. The rubber face piece may be cleaned with soap
and water.
Storage of Chemicals
Chemicals and solvents should always be stored so that they are:  Safe
 Secure from unauthorised personnel
 Accessible to those needing to use them
The Golden Rules of Chemical Storage
a) Always store products in suitable, securely closed containers with the appropriate labels.
b) Never allow unauthorised personnel access to stored substances.
c) Designated storage areas, which are not used for any other purpose, should be established.
Storage areas should be away from heavy pedestrian traffic and areas where mobile
equipment may cause damage.
May 2015
d) Chemicals should, unless otherwise indicated by manufacturers /suppliers, be stored at
temperatures between 5oC and 20oC and away from direct sunlight, heat sources and ignition
NB: Oxidising substances produce oxygen when stored above the recommended
temperatures and will ‘feed’ a fire. Other non-flammable substances may generate
dangerous fumes, vapours, etc., when subject to heat and their containers may be
e) No internal storage area may hold more than 50 litres of Highly Flammable Substance (not to
be confused with flammable substances) as this invalidates the college insurance. The only
exception to this will be specifically designated outside flammable stores. Smaller quantities
should be kept in a special flammables cupboard, which is clearly labelled as such. The
cupboard should be of metal construction and be able to contain minor spillages i.e. about 2.5
litres. It should be kept away from other sources of heat such as radiators and sunlight, and
not placed near other flammables or in the exit route from the room.
Large quantities of chemicals and solvents should be stored in separate, well ventilated,
locked premises. Smaller quantities, for use in the foreseeable future, may be stored in
workshops, laboratories or prep-rooms.
g) Manufacturers/suppliers information and labels should stipulate storage requirements,
always adhere to them and ensure that no incompatible products are kept in the same area
e.g. acids and bleach.
The following advice should prevent serious accidents arising from the storage of such substances.
Chemicals may be divided into 2 groups. In general, violent reactions do not occur between members
of the same group, but may occur if a substance from one group is mixed with a substance from the
other. Consequently, Group (I) substances must be stored separately from Group (II) substances.
Large bottles of liquid should be stored at or near floor level.
Group I
Combustible solids (e.g. sugar, naphthalene, camphor)
Lavatory Cleaners (e.g. DOT, Harpic etc.)
Descaling Agents
Anti-rust agents
Photographic fixer and developer
Group II
Alkalis (e.g. caustic soda, ammonia)
permanganates, peroxides)
Bleach and hypo chlorates
Oven Cleaners
Fire Precautions
Storage requirements must be strictly adhered to.
There should be no smoking or use of naked lights in any area where flammable
substances are used or stored or where dusts are created.
The flash point of the substances should be ascertained, and anybody likely to come
into contact with the substances should know the procedure for fire.
Appropriate firefighting equipment should be available.
May 2015
8. Control of Dust
Dust is a health risk that is often overlooked, but can carry significant long term health issues. Areas
within the college that maybe at risk include woodwork, brickwork, catering, ceramics, 3D workshop
and motor vehicle body shop. (This list is not exhaustive)
Each department will assess the dust levels and types they are exposed to. Advice on work place
exposure levels (WELs) can be found on the data sheets produced and supplied by the manufacturers.
Where significant risks are identified a COSHH risk assessment must be produced.
Each department shall pay particular attention to the requirement for adequate staff training where
dust is deemed a hazard. This must include the correct use and storage of the following.
Extraction systems.
It is the responsibility of the department where these have been
fitted, to ensure that regular maintenance is carried out and any
faults are reported immediately.
Protective face masks.
These must comply with current legislation and be appropriate for
the work. Maintenance in accordance with the manufacturer’s
instructions must be carried out. Disposable masks must be changed
daily and not stored in an area where they can become contaminated
with dust. Please see the PPE Policy on types of masks to use.
Protective Clothing
Where protective clothing suitable to the working environment is
recommended, it should be worn. Dust clings to clothing and this can
increase your exposure time.
Long Hair
This must be tied back or covered. Long hair like clothes can collect
large quantities of dust, again increasing the exposure limits.
Safety Precautions for dust
1. Where possible use alternative products which are less harmful.
2. Students must be warned of the effects of dust and the need to adhere to the
department code of practice.
3. Students must be warned of the consequences of tampering with or misusing
extraction systems.
4. Keep the work area as dust free as possible.
5. Use vacuum cleaning equipment fitted with high efficiency filters.
6. Do not use compressed airlines or hand brushing as these will create dust clouds and
redistribute the dust.
7. Damp dust where possible. Where necessary contractors should be used for ‘deep
cleaning’. This can be arranged via the estates team.
May 2015
9. Health Surveillance
The College has identified areas where health surveillance is necessary and those affected will be
asked to attend appointments with the occupational health service provided through an approved
outside provider for periodic tests. These appointments are mandatory. Records and results of these
tests are kept by HR for 40 years.
See SDC Health Surveillance – Procedure & Guidance
10. Information and Training
Staff and learners must be appropriately informed about the risks relative to the substances they use
and be adequately trained in the proper usage of those substances. In particular, staff and learners
who use hazardous substances must be provided with adequate information, instruction and training
 the nature of substances they work with or are exposed to and the risks to health from
 the precautions that can be taken including the use of control measures.
 how to use any personal protective equipment that may be required as the result of a risk
 the results of any exposure monitoring and health surveillance carried out (personal details
 emergency procedures eg. first aid; spillages
Practical Work in a Learning Environment
Where teaching involves practical experiments, useful and complementary documents are available
such as the CLEAPSS handbook and HAZCARD system.
Information on safety procedures should be part of all recorded lesson plans.
Lesson plans and schemes of work should indicate the hazardous nature of the substance and refer
to the COSHH Assessment.
The faculty is to ensure that all records are kept are up-to-date and available for inspection as
May 2015
Safety Precautions
1. Students are permitted to work in the laboratories, workshops or studios only at the
times scheduled for classes, unless special permission has been granted.
2. All persons must familiarise themselves with the position of first-aid cabinets, fire
extinguishers, fire blankets and fire notices.
3. If dangerous or poisonous liquids are to be used, ensure that the antidote is readily
available and that the procedure for its use is readily understood.
4. When using a fume cupboard, check that its extraction system works efficiently.
5. Experiments using noxious gases must be carried out in a fume cupboard or adequately
ventilated area.
6. Containers under pressure should be opened cautiously (e.g. solvents).
7. To avoid the risk of explosion never grind up unknown chemical mixtures.
8. Protective gloves should be worn when appropriate to avoid the absorption through the
skin of toxic substances.
9. Never inhale organic vapours.
10. Never look down a flask or test-tube nor view a chemical mixture at or above eye level.
11. Ensure that the name on a bottle of a reagent is exactly the same as that of the required
12. Chemicals must never be mixed together unless the lecturer/teacher in charge has given
instructions to do so.
13. Bottle should never be held by the neck.
14. All chemicals should be regarded as poisons and must NEVER be tasted.
15. Safety bulbs must be used to fill pipettes.
16. Corrosive liquids must be kept in a safe place; and must never be moved unless safely
17. Pour chemicals safely to avoid splashing.
18. Apparatus must not be left set up in a work area unless permission to do so has been
obtained from the person responsible for the area.
19. UNDER NO circumstances must unlabelled materials or solutions be left unattended.
Containers must be correctly and clearly labelled.
20. Do not carry flammable solvents in open vessels. Before use, check that no flames or
other sources of ignition are nearby.
21. Food and drink must never be consumed in laboratories, workshops, studios or
Section 1.3 Investigation Identifying Substances Using Properties
Section 1.3 Investigation Identifying Substances Using Properties