COSHH is the law that requires employers to control substances that are hazardous to health. You can prevent or reduce worker exposure to hazardous substances by:

  • finding out what the health hazards are
  • deciding how to prevent harm to health
  • providing control measures to reduce harm to health
  • providing information, instruction and training for employees and others
  • providing monitoring and health surveillance in appropriate cases

Workplace exposure limits

What is exposure?

Exposure to a substance is uptake into the body. The exposure routes are:

  • by breathing fume, dust, gas or mist.
  • by skin contact.
  • by injection into the skin.
  • by swallowing.

Many thousands of substances are used at work but only about 500 substances have Workplace Exposure Limits (WELs) listed in EH40 workplace exposure limits

Substances covered by COSHH:

  • chemicals
  • products containing chemicals
  • fumes
  • dusts
  • vapours
  • mists
  • nanotechnology
  • gases and asphyxiating gases and
  • biological agents

COSHH does not cover:

  • lead
  • asbestos or
  • radioactive substances

All of the substances above have their own regulations which govern their use. Please refer to the HSE website for information.

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