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Frequently asked questions

Why does COSHH essentials not list all of the R phrases/H statements that are on my Safety Data Sheet (SDS)?

COSHH essentials only uses R phrases/H statements that relate to human health, so R1 – 19 / H200 – 290 (physical hazards) and R50 – 59 / H400 – 413 (environmental hazards) are excluded from COSHH essentials.

I can't find my safety data sheet. What should I do?

Suppliers of chemicals are legally required to give you a safety data sheet with the first consignment of your order. If you have lost this or you think it is out of date, ask your supplier for another one.

I have just completed COSHH essentials, is this sufficient to use as my COSHH assessment?

COSHH essentials produces generic advice. The legal requirement is that the risk assessment must be suitable and sufficient, so check that the downloaded sheets fully describe the task you do. If so, follow the advice in the sheets. Otherwise, think about how else you could use the advice to avoid workers health being harmed. You should take into account any information you have on levels of exposure, such as the results of monitoring, or health checks.

For further information see the HSE publication A step by step guide to COSHH assessment.

Some of the information I need is missing from my safety data sheet. What should I do?

Ask your supplier for the information. If the supplier refuses to help you contact your local  HSE Office.

There isn't a boiling point in the safety data sheet?

Contact the manufacturers. For some liquid products an ‘initial boiling point’ is good enough. If the product is water-based, the boiling point is 100°C.

Why can't I mix a liquid with a solid?

The controls for liquids and solids are different.

COSHH Essentials won’t work for gases and liquids above their boiling point. If the product is an aerosol you can find information on sheet SR22.

Does COSHH Essentials cover all substances that are covered by COSHH?

COSHH Essentials does not deal with all substances. It covers liquid and solid chemicals, mixtures of chemicals, some process dust and fumes (wood and flour dust, foundry, rubber and some soldering fumes).

It doesn't cover: other process dusts and fume, pesticides or biocides and veterinary medicines, lead, asbestos or gases.

I think I am using a substance that isn’t covered by COSHH Essentials. How can I carry out a risk assessment?

In this case, you will need to carry out a risk assessment by other means. Please follow the link below which has a number of example COSHH risk assessments which you may find useful.

Why have you not covered all process generated hazards?

There is already a substantial amount of sector guidance on process generated hazards. COSHH Essentials addresses substances where less advice is available.

Are the control solutions in COSHH Essentials cost effective for small firms?

Careful consideration has been given to presenting controls that represent good occupational hygiene practice and reduce exposure to adequate levels that are achievable in small firms. Some of the basic advice - for example on good housekeeping and storage - should in itself help firms' cost effectiveness.

Updated: 2015-08-13