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Chemical Safety

Chemicals often have hazards associated with them, whether they be laboratory reagents, common cleaning products, engineering oils, woodworking dusts, or soldering fluxes. These hazards can be associated with fires or explosions, or can be due to the hazards presented to the health of individuals: for more information see hazardous substances.

Control of Substances Hazardous to Health (CoSHH)

Chemical hazards to human health are regulated under the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health (CoSHH) Regulations 2002, which require the safe acquisition, storage, use and disposal of of such substances, follow a simple pattern of:

Acquisition and Storage

Before purchasing or acquiring any chemical the substance needs to be categorised and an assessment made as to whether the substance can be stored safely. An assessment also needs to be made regarding the availability of the required engineering controls (such as fume cupboards, glove boxes), specialist personal protective equipment and a suitable waste stream.

Use of Substances Hazardous to Health

A risk assessment must also be carried out on how the chemical might be used. This can be done as part of a general risk assessment, or in certain circumstances, using a CoSHH Assessment.

Substances with additional requirements

Below is a list of materials which may have requirements in addition to the substance assessment. Further useful links can be found in the right column:

Health surveillance is arranged via Occupational Health. Exposure monitoring is arranged via Health and Safety Services.

In all cases a suitable current risk assessment must be provided.

Lead or Lead Compounds

Lead or lead compounds might be disturbed, displaced or released into the atmosphere, whether that be through maintenance or research activities.

Work with lead not liable to result in significant exposure

  • Handling clean metallic lead
  • Low-temperature melting of lead (below 500°C) e.g. during soldering (specialist activities, requires justification)
  • Insignificant amounts of lead and its compounds being handled infrequently (not alkyl lead)

Medical surveillance when

  • There is risk of skin contact with alkyl lead
  • The amount of lead and its compounds is significant
  • High temperature melting of lead – above 500°C
Vinyl chloride monomer

Medical surveillance when this material is used, stored or polymerised.

Ortho-toluidine and its salts. Dianisidine and its salts. Dichlorobenzidine and its salts.

Medical surveillance when these substances are used.

Carbon disulphide. Disulphur dichloride. Benzene, including benzol. Carbon tetrachloride. Trichlorethylene.

Medical surveillance when these substances are used, or given off as vapour.

Any substance/compound assigned a Workplace Exposure Limit (WEL) in EH40

Exposure monitoring when it is believed exposure levels are approaching half the assigned WEL

Drug Precursors – (Home Office requirements) due to their potential for mis-use

Category 3 substances

Category 2 substances

Category 1 substances

Controlled Drugs (Home Office requirements)

Schedule 1 Controlled Drugs

Schedules 2 to 5 substances

Substances covered by the Chemical Weapons Convention

 Schedule 1 substances

 Schedules 2 substances

 Schedule 3 substances