Health & Safety, An Introduction to

Hazardous Substances

Do you work with hazardous substances?

Thousands of people are exposed to all kinds of hazardous substances at work. These can include chemicals that people make or work with directly, and also dust, fume and bacteria which can be present in the workplace. Exposure can happen by breathing them in, contact with the skin, splashing them into the eyes or swallowing them. If exposure is not prevented or properly controlled, it can cause serious illness, including cancer, asthma and dermatitis, and sometimes even death. (see also Fire and Explosion)

Does this concern me?

Do you use chemicals at work (including cleaning materials)?

Do you know suppliers of hazardous substances have to provide information to users, including safety data sheets and proper labelling?

Is there dust and fume present in your workplace?

Do you have any water systems which could be colonised by legionella?

Do you work with animals or their products? These may cause skin or respiratory sensitisation or be infected with bacteria or viruses?

What law applies?

Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 2002 (COSHH)

Chemicals (Hazard Information and Packaging for Supply) Regulations 2002

Control of Lead at Work Regulations 2002

How and where you can get more help

HSE’s InfoLine can help identify publications relevant to you.

‘COSHH: A brief guide to the Regulations’ INDG136 (rev2) FREE (available in packs of 10 ISBN 0 7176 2677 6 £5.00)

‘COSHH essentials : Easy steps to control chemicals. Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations’ HSG193 ISBN 0 7176 2421 8 £25.00. A FREE internet version is also available on:

‘Preventing dermatitis at work’ INDG233 FREE (available in packs of 15 ISBN 0 7176 1246 5 £5.00)

‘Respiratory sensitisers and COSHH : Breathe freely – An employer’s leaflet on preventing occupational asthma’ INDG95 (rev2) FREE (available in packs of 15 ISBN 0 7176 0914 6 £5.00)

‘Health risk management – a practical guide for managers in small and medium sized enterprises’ HSG137 ISBN 0 7176 0905 7 £6.50

You can order any of these titles through HSE Books.

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