Use chemicals at work

Chemicals are used in many places and in many different ways, including in factories, shops, laboratories, offices, farms and in the home and garden. The chemicals you use at work may include products you buy to use in your core business, or in maintaining your equipment, or in general cleaning. The term chemical could also include hazardous substances you create as part of your work processes eg dust created by cutting wood or stone.

Many people use chemicals - a user could be:

  • a farmer
  • a hairdresser
  • a cleaner
  • a worker in a chemical plant
  • a technician in a laboratory
  • a pest control operator
  • or you in your home or garden

Do you use chemicals at work?

If you are an employer, the law requires you to control the use of chemicals at work. To do this you need to assess the risks in your workplace and implement and maintain effective control measures.  The HSE website provides several sources of useful information, to help you to comply with the law and control exposure to chemicals in the workplace.

Chemicals:  If you use or generate chemicals or other hazardous substances at work that could put people's health at risk, causing diseases including asthma, dermatitis or cancer visit the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations (COSHH) website.

Safety Data Sheets: If you buy-in a chemical product that is classified as 'dangerous to supply', it will come with a Safety Data Sheet (SDS), which will help you to make a risk assessment. A SDS describes the hazards the chemical presents, and will give you information on handling, storage and emergency measures in case of accident. For more information read safety data sheets on REACH website.

Lead: If you use/work with lead you can put your health at risk, as lead dust, fume or vapour can cause headaches, stomach pains and anaemia, visit the Control of Lead at Work Regulations 2002 (CLAW) website.

Fire and explosion: if you use/work with chemicals that can cause a risk of fire and explosion visit the fire and explosion website.

Biocides and Pesticides: If you use/work with pesticides or biocides visit the Biocides website, or Pesticides website.

Do you use chemicals in the home?

If you use chemicals at home or in the garden, visit pesticides and biocides on the Biocides website, or Pesticides website.

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