Guidance on use of the COSHH Risk Assessment Form.
Introduction. This guidance has been written to assist staff when completing the COSHH
Risk Assessment Form.
Departmental Complete your Department, Name, Job title and telephone contact details.
Task/process Briefly describe the task or process that is being assessed. Include all
relevant parts of the process where exposure may occur. The type of
information required includes purpose of the work, reaction type (if
relevant), the type of process (e.g. distillation, filtration etc), location of the
work and a breakdown of all stages of the work that are to be assessed
including operations where by-products may be produced.
Substance and Substances: All substances, by-products and end products must be clearly
exposure identified. Include common synonyms and where relevant the physical
details table state. IUPAC names can usually be found in Sections 1 & 2 on the Material
Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) provided by the supplier.
Quantity: Approximate maximum.
Hazard Class: CHIPS classification for chemical substances e.g. toxic,
corrosive, sensitiser etc. The criteria for classification of biological agents
is detailed in Schedule 3 of COSHH 2002. Classification ranges from
Group 1 (unlikely to cause human disease) to Group 4 (causes severe
human disease and is likely to spread in the community). The biological
agent hazard groups are reflected in the minimum containment level
requirements. For example, activities with Group 2 biological agents
requires Level 2 containment.
WEL: Workplace Exposure Limit, relate to concentrations in air and are
detailed in Section 11 and/or 15 of the MSDS or Publication EH40. These
limits must never be exceeded. NOTE: Not all substances have a
designated WEL. There are no WEL’s for biological agents.
Exposure route: identifies how the substance may enter the body. There
may be more than one possible exposure route for each substance. Gases
and liquids may be inhaled and absorbed through the skin. Substances may
also be ingested due to poor personal hygiene practices like not washing
your hands after handling a hazardous substance. Injection usually occurs
by accident in the form of a hypodermic needle stick injury.
Frequency & Duration: Consider the worst case. Information on the
frequency and duration of exposure will assist in deciding which controls
Known Health Effects: Information can be found in section 3 of the
MSDS, occupational health reports, reference literature such as Sax’s or
Sigma Aldrich and the internet. However, anecdotal evidence is just as
important, learn from experience. Risk and safety (R & S) phrases may
also indicate adverse health effects.
Results of Health Surveillance and Exposure Monitoring: If any has been
undertaken it should be available from your Line Manager or the H, S & E
Section. Also, if there is any evidence or a known history where people
have been affected by a particular substance, make a note of these
occurrences in this section.
Control Aim - to prevent exposure to the hazardous substance(s).
Measures Hierarchy approach
Isolate (glovebox, by distance)
Engineering control (LEV, Fume cupboard, damp process for dust
Personal Protective Equipment (last resort)
Section 8 of the MSDS may provide some guidance. Consider stability &
reactivity – see section 10 of the MSDS.
Guidance documents may include:
COSHH Essentials (HSE publication)
HSE Guidance documents (most are freely available at
www.hse.gov.uk, or Available from HSE Books
Manufacturers instructions / container label instructions
Relevant institutions (e.g. BOHS)
DON’T FORGET: For each control measure you implement you must
ensure that you provide appropriate INFORMATION, INSTRUCTION,
TRAINING and SUPERVISION in their use.
Emergency First Aid requirements can be found in section 4 of the MSDS.
arrangements Fire extinguisher advice can be found in section 5 of the MSDS.
and spillage or Information on dealing with spillages can be found in section 6 of the
procedure Also consider any local emergency procedures relating to spillage or
uncontrolled releases of hazardous substances.
Waste Hazardous Waste disposal – refer to procedure FM HSE 017
Persons Persons likely to be exposed will primarily be staff and students. However,
exposed consider ALL! Including those who may not be directly connected to the
Maintenance engineers, contractors
risks The effects of non-routine events (such as equipment breakdowns)
and precautions required to protect those who may not be directly
involved with the work;
Relevant physical hazards such as fire, pressurisation, mechanical
Referring to existing procedures such as;
o Decontamination certificates
o Overnight operating permits,
o Storage requirements
o Transport and movement of containers
o Operating procedures for autoclaves, centrifuges etc.
The cumulative, additive or synergistic effects of the substances
Pregnant workers, nursing mothers or people with existing medical
conditions may be more susceptible to the effects of exposure.
Unexpected, adjacent or non-routine activities such as maintenance
work may pose additional risks.