What is COSHH in health and social care?

Understanding COSHH in health and social care: Ensuring safety and compliance

Maintaining a safe environment for both service users and staff is paramount in health and social care. One critical aspect of achieving this is the effective management of hazardous substances, governed by Control of Substances Hazardous to Health (COSHH) regulations. In this blog, Dr Richard Dune explores the significance of COSHH, its legislative framework, and best practices to ensure compliance and safety.

Key facts and statistics

Understanding the scale of hazardous substance management in healthcare is crucial:

  • Statistics - According to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), exposure to hazardous substances causes many occupational diseases.
  • Impact - Improper handling of hazardous substances can lead to long-term health issues, including respiratory diseases and dermatitis.

Key definitions

Before delving into specifics, it's essential to define key terms:

  • Hazardous substances - Any substance that poses a risk to health, including chemicals, fumes, and biological agents.
  • COSHH - The Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 2002 (as amended) in the UK.

Legislation, regulations, and best practices

Compliance with COSHH regulations involves several key aspects:

  • Legal framework - COSHH regulations mandate employers to assess and control risks from hazardous substances, ensuring the protection of employees and others affected by their work activities.
  • Risk assessment - Employers must conduct thorough risk assessments to identify and mitigate risks associated with hazardous substances.
  • Control measures - Implement control measures such as substitution, ventilation, and personal protective equipment (PPE) to minimise exposure.
  • Training - Providing adequate training and information to employees on the risks associated with hazardous substances and safe handling practices.

Importance of COSHH in health and social care

Effective management of hazardous substances is vital in healthcare settings to safeguard the health of both patients and staff. The diverse nature of healthcare environments requires stringent adherence to COSHH guidelines to prevent exposure to chemicals, infectious materials, and other hazards.

Legislative framework

COSHH regulations form the cornerstone of hazardous substance management in the UK. These regulations place legal obligations on employers to protect their workforce through risk assessment, control measures, and training.

Best practices in COSHH management

  • Risk assessment - Conduct regular assessments to identify hazards and evaluate risks.
  • Control measures - Implement engineering controls like local exhaust ventilation and administrative controls like safe work practices.
  • Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) - Provide appropriate PPE and ensure its proper use and maintenance.
  • Training and awareness - Educate employees on the hazards of substances they may encounter and train them in safe handling procedures.


To enhance COSHH compliance and safety:

  • Regularly review and update risk assessments.
  • Engage staff in ongoing training and awareness programs.
  • Foster a culture of safety and responsibility towards hazardous substances.


In conclusion, COSHH regulations are pivotal in maintaining a safe working environment within health and social care settings. By adhering to these regulations, organisations can mitigate risks associated with hazardous substances, protect their workforce, and ensure compliance with legal obligations.

Ensure your organisation is compliant with COSHH regulations. Click here to learn more about our COSHH training courses and how we can help your staff manage hazardous substances effectively.

About the author

Dr Richard Dune

With over 20 years of experience, Richard blends a rich background in NHS, the private sector, academia, and research settings. His forte lies in clinical R&D, advancing healthcare tech, workforce development and governance. His leadership ensures regulatory compliance and innovation align seamlessly.

Understanding COSHH in health and social care - ComplyPlus™ - The Mandatory Training Group UK -

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