Last updated: 14.08.23

What is COSHH Training?

What is COSHH Training?

Health and safety in the workplace should be of the utmost importance to companies across the globe. In the UK, there is a range of regulations relevant to health and safety at work that have the purpose of protecting the well-being of employees in a variety of different sectors. 

In recent years in Great Britain, as many as 1.8 million people suffered from a work-related illness. It is therefore crucial that employers and employees are taking the necessary steps to ensure the safety of themselves and others within their place of work.

One of the hazards that can cause work-related accidents or injuries is dangerous substances. Present in many different workplaces, the use, storage, and handling of hazardous substances have their own specific law known as COSHH, which is important to all those who may be exposed to any harmful products in the workplace.

Given COSHH’s significance, employers and employees must receive the necessary training to understand what hazardous materials are present in their workplace and how they can mitigate their associated risks. In this article, we delve into COSHH training and its role in the control of hazardous substances to help protect the health of workers across the country.

What Does COSHH Stand For?

COSHH stands for the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health. It is a law and statutory instrument enforced in the UK by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), which is Great Britain’s regulator for workplace health and safety.

COSHH refers to the general requirements that employers need to follow to protect the health and safety of their employees who are working in an environment in which hazardous substances are present.

What is the Purpose of COSHH?

The COSHH legislation is something that many individuals will be familiar with in their workplace. The purpose of COSHH as a whole is to ensure that there is an adequate framework in place which employers can follow in order to protect the health of employees in their workplace.

The main objective of COSHH is to prevent any ill health from coming to employees by either removing or properly controlling workplace exposure to hazardous substances, with these specific substances being outlined by the legislation itself. 

These substances include:

  • Chemicals
  • Liquids
  • Fumes
  • Gels
  • Powders
  • Mists
  • Dust
  • Microorganisms
  • Biological agents
  • Gases
  • Nanotechnology
  • Any other substances that are known to be harmful to health 

Employers and employees must be aware of what COSHH is as well as its purpose and objectives to protect their individual and others’ health and safety. 

COSHH Guidelines, Procedures, and Risk Assessments

COSHH guidelines outline what is expected of employers and employees concerning controlling hazardous substances in the workplace. To comply with COSHH guidelines, everyone must take steps in order to minimise the risk posed by hazardous substances. COSHH risk assessments are conducted to achieve this adequately.

As with many of the HSE’s guidelines and procedures, COSHH risk assessments begin with identifying and assessing risk. Any potentially harmful substances are found and the negative impact that they may have on individuals’ health is considered. 

An example may be identifying any chemicals that are in regular use, what these chemicals are, and the specific health-related risks they pose. Once all of these substances are recorded during a risk assessment, COSHH's best practice states that attempts to substitute them should be made. 

Beyond this, COSHH is all about limiting exposure. This encompasses actions such as limiting the use of a particular substance as possible if it is not possible to remove it from the workplace entirely and wearing the right protective equipment. 

The COSHH procedure in its assessment will also cover what happens when the safeguards fail and someone does come into contact with a hazardous substance. This might be as simple as washing the affected area with warm water or, on a more serious note, calling for emergency services.

Being in tune with COSHH requirements and the steps of its risk assessment means you’re conscious of the exact hazards in your workplace, their risks, and how you can best stop them from harming anyone. 

What is COSHH Training?

Given that COSHH regulations and procedures are an important part of workplace health and safety, it will come as no surprise that it's an essential aspect of workplace training for many businesses.

The COSHH legislation doesn’t mandate a particular qualification that employees must have in order to work with substances that are hazardous to health. But, it does state that these individuals should receive appropriate training to ensure that they can carry out their job safely when they are doing so. 

COSHH training is, therefore, an instruction that can take place over several sessions or during an online course. It will cover the basics of COSHH’s principles, as well as how to follow COSHH procedures and risk assessments appropriately. 

The Importance of COSHH Training 

In line with what we’ve mentioned above, COSHH training is a critical aspect of employees’ learning and in the workplace to ensure that they are protecting their own health and safety and also that of their colleagues, employers, and any other individuals that may be coming into their workplace. 

Without COSHH training, and in the case of improper management and enforcement of COSHH procedures in the workplace, employees may be harmed when they are coming into contact with hazardous substances. This can lead to a number of outcomes which may include a minor injury or more serious ailments such as long-term conditions, diseases or even death. 

Therefore, this training is key in facilitating employees to comply with the COSHH legislation for the benefit of both themselves and their team members, helping them to adequately identify hazards and risks as well as apply procedures to mitigate these risks. These are lifelong learnings that employees will be conscious of in their role going forward, so employees can have the peace of mind that this aspect of health and safety in the workplace is being considered. 

Who is Responsible for COSHH Training? 

The employer of an organisation is responsible for managing and enforcing COSHH in the workplace. This involves everything from ensuring that the necessary risk assessments are in place to being responsible for ensuring staff is educated on the topic of COSHH and how they can reduce the risks of hazardous substances that they come into contact with. 

If you are an employer who is managing a team in a workplace environment that has hazardous substances, you need to ensure that you are offering the necessary education and training to your staff members to protect their health at work. 

Who is Required to Have COSHH Training?

Anyone who works in an environment in which there are hazardous substances that are being used, created, or handled needs to have adequate COSHH training to understand the key principles of the COSHH legislation and how to control and eliminate the risks posed by hazardous substances.

COSHH training courses are suitable for anyone who comes into contact with hazardous substances and materials in the workplace. Examples of professions which should undertake COSHH training include: 

  • Oil and gas workers
  • Mechanics
  • Engineers
  • Farmers
  • Painters
  • Decorators
  • Cleaning staff
  • Builders

Cleaners, in particular, can be found in lots of businesses, so even if your workplace is primarily office based, consider that if you don’t outsource cleaning some COSHH training might be required.

Online COSHH training courses are available and are a convenient way for employees to receive the necessary training that they need to understand COSHH and the threats posed by hazardous substances in the workplace. For example, our COSHH Training Course addresses this and also delves further into the control measures that need to be put into place to protect the health of workers, alongside other learnings to enhance knowledge surrounding COSHH. 

How to Comply with COSHH

For both employers and employees, there are a number of responsibilities that need to be adopted in line with COSHH legislation and guidelines. By participating in COSHH training, these will be made clear and can, therefore, be executed accordingly. 

Here are both employee and employer key responsibilities following COSHH regulations.

Employer Responsibilities

  • Minimising or eliminating exposure to hazardous substances in ways such as providing necessary personal protective equipment (PPE) when required
  • Offering employees the necessary training and learning opportunities required to understand the dangers of working with hazardous substances and how they can best perform their roles in light of this
  • Implementing additional safety procedures in the event of an accident, incident, or emergency involving a hazardous substance
  • Carrying out the necessary COSHH risk assessments
  • Ensuring employees are carrying out their tasks in line with COSHH guidelines appropriately
  • Enforcing control measures in relation to hazardous substances and ensuring that these are maintained and in a clean condition where necessary
  • Making sure that the amount of hazardous substances in the workplace is not more than those outlined by the Workplace Exposure Limit (WEL)
  • Ensuring that employees who may be exposed to hazardous substances are monitored accordingly 

Employee Responsibilities

  • Helping others create a safe working environment by following the necessary regulations and guidelines within the workplace
  • Wearing personal protective equipment (PPE) when required to prevent contact with hazardous substances whilst also ensuring these are maintained and stored appropriately
  • Following all guidelines and procedures enforced by employers in line with COSHH legislation to prevent exposure to and harm being caused by hazardous substances
  • Reporting any instances and accidents in which harm or contamination has been caused by hazardous substances
  • Storing and returning equipment accordingly
  • Keeping up to date with the necessary COSHH training as provided by employers
  •  Using necessary washing and showering facilities when required in the workplace
  • Keeping a good level of personal hygiene


Is COSHH training a legal requirement?

Whilst it is not explicitly stated that training is required, COSHH does state that employees need to provide the necessary information to understand the risks and hazards in the workplace and the control measures that need to be taken and how to carry these out appropriately. Therefore, COSHH training is a must in all workplaces where hazardous substances are present.

How much is COSHH training?

The cost of COSHH training can vary depending on the learning provider you choose to conduct your courses and training with. There are ample COSHH training course options available online offering a comprehensive understanding of how to enforce COSHH procedures adequately in the workplace, with our ‘COSHH Training Course’ being one of them.

How often should COSHH training be completed?

There is no set requirement for how often COSHH training should take place or when refresher courses should be offered. However, it is useful to re-visit health and safety-related topics every year to two years to ensure employers are constantly refreshed on the importance of COSHH and the risks associated with improper management of hazards in the workplace. 


COSHH is one of the most important health and safety legislations for those working in environments where hazardous substances are present. Without the necessary COSHH training, employers may find that their employees are unnecessarily at risk. This could easily be avoided by learning the importance of COSHH and what their responsibilities are when working with and handling hazardous substances. We hope this article offers you the insight you need into what COSHH training is and why it is critical. 

If you’re looking for a COSHH training course for your business, our COSHH Training Course is a comprehensive online resource for employees and employers to learn more about what COSHH is and the procedures that they need to follow in the workplace in line with the legislation, offering them the adequate training they need to stay safe in the workplace.