Control measures to prevent or limit exposure to hazardous substances

What is COSHH for?

The objective of COSHH is to prevent, or to adequately control, exposure to substances hazardous to health, so as to prevent ill health.

You can do this by:

  • using control equipment, eg total enclosure, partial enclosure, LEV;
  • controlling procedures, eg ways of working, supervision and training to reduce exposure, maintenance, examination and testing of control measures;
  • worker behaviour, making sure employees follow the control measures.

Changing how often a task is undertaken, or when, or reducing the number of employees nearby, can make an improvement to exposure control.

See Working with substances hazardous to health: A brief guide to COSHH.

You should also look at the HSE REACH web pages for information about what the Regulations mean for users of chemicals.

Control equipment

Control equipment can be general ventilation, extraction systems such as local exhaust ventilation, enclosure, or where the air cannot be cleaned, refuges and respiratory protective equipment (RPE).

Other control equipment includes spillage capture, decontamination, clean-up procedures and personal protective equipment (PPE).

Ways of working

Control through ways of working includes operating procedures, supervision and training.

It includes emergency procedures, decontamination and 'permits to work' for tasks such as maintenance.

It also means testing all control measures regularly – equipment, ways of working and behaviour, to make sure that they work properly.

You should keep records of examinations, tests and repairs to equipment for at least five years. This helps to identify any trends or variations in equipment deterioration.

Worker behaviour

Where control measures are in place it is important to use them properly.

This includes:

  • wearing any PPE necessary;
  • using control equipment;
  • following hygiene procedures;
  • warning supervisors if anything appears to be wrong.

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