Easy steps to control health risks from chemicals          Index   
Frequently asked questions
Q I can't find my safety data sheet. What should I do?

Suppliers of chemicals are 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 If you have lost this or you think it is out of date, ask your supplier for another one.

Q Some of the information I need is missing from my safety data sheet. What should I do?
A Ask your supplier for the information. If the supplier refuses to help you contact HSE's InfoLine (tel: 0845 345 0055)
Q How can this be called "COSHH Essentials" if it doesn't cover certain substances that are covered by COSHH?

COSHH Essentials does not deal with certain substances such as process generated fumes and dusts. The most pressing need was to deal with the very large proportion of hazardous substances under COSHH ie chemicals. It gives clear, practical advice on risk assessment and achieving adequate control. Risk assessment is at the core of the COSHH regulations and the guidance is in line with the approach of our other 'essentials' publications.

Q Why have you not covered process generated hazards?

There is already a substantial amount of sector guidance on process generated hazards such as welding and rubber fume. COSHH Essentials was conceived to address chemicals where there was less advice. However, many of the solutions in COSHH Essentials will still be relevant to process generated hazards and we will be including these in a future version of the system.

Q Why have you produced guidance for tasks rather than industrial processes?

We wanted the guidance to be as generic as possible. However, we are encouraging industrial sectors to produce guidance for their processes using the COSHH Essentials approach. There are already guidance sheets specific to the printing industry.

Q How can you be sure that generic guidance will always protect to an adequate standard?

We are confident that in the vast majority of cases the guidance will provide an adequate level of control. This is because we have extensively reviewed the process, carried out a technical pilot of the final package, and checked that for substances with Occupational Exposure Limits COSHH Essentials will recommend suitable controls. Inevitably it will, in some cases, be over-precautionary but this has to be preferable. At the end of day, it remains the responsibility of firms to ensure they meet COSHH requirements.

Q 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.

Q How does it apply to preparations and mixtures?

The starting point for the COSHH Essentials assessment is the indication of human health hazard given by the R-phrase allocated by the supplier under the CHIP regulations. The Preparations Directive gives rules for applying R-phrases to supplied preparations. These R-phrases can be used in the same way as R-phrases applied to individual substances and, where appropriate, COSHH Essentials automatically applies those rules to arrive at correct control solutions for preparations and mixtures.

Q I think I am using a chemical that isn't covered by COSHH Essentials. How can I carry out a risk assessment?
A Contact HSE's InfoLine (tel: 0845 345 0055) and you will be given advice on what to do.
Q If I find I am using a chemical which is very dangerous what should I do ?

If COSHH Essentials identifies that you are using a potentially very dangerous chemical you will either be given guidance on how to control exposure or will be advised to contact a specialist to help you. There is a hyperlink to a website which will help you find a suitable specialist. You will also be advised to consider substituting the chemical with something less dangerous or to change the way you use it. A hyperlink is also provided to HSE's "Seven steps to successful substitution" (priced) which will give you advice.

Q What internet browsers has COSHH essentials been tested with ?

Firefox v3.0.14; Safari v4.5; Opera v9.26; Internet Explorer v6.