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Updated guidance on controlling hazardous substances in the workplace

3 December 2013

Information on controlling substances that are hazardous to the health of workers has been updated to help businesses comply with legal requirements.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has revised its Approved Code of Practice (ACOP) to clarify and simplify practical advice to help dutyholders comply with the requirements of Control of Substances Hazardous to Health (COSHH).

Contained within an updated document, the revised guidance is aimed at management, supervisory staff, safety representatives and technical specialists (e.g. occupational hygienists, consultants etc).

The revisions reflect other ongoing reviews of technical guidance associated with COSHH, e.g. for Local Exhaust Ventilation (LEV); and on Health Surveillance, and clarify specialist terminology wherever possible.

The changes follow a period of public consultation and HSE Board and ministerial approval.

The revised ACOP is available on the HSE website at:

Legal responsibilities to protect workers’ health and safety are not altered by any changes to ACOPs.


Notes to editors

  1. Professor Ragnar Löfstedt’s review of health and safety legislation is available on the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) website at  
  2. An ACOP provides practical guidance on complying with the general duties of the Health and Safety at Work Act (HSWA) or the requirements of goal-setting regulations. ACOPs are not law but do have a special legal status; if the advice in ACOP material is followed in relevant circumstances dutyholders can be confident they are complying with the law. 
  3. Specific revisions from the previous ACOP include: material supporting Regulations 7, 9, 10 and 11 has been updated to take account of legislative changes such as the introduction of the EU Regulations for the Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and restriction of Chemicals (REACH) and the Classification, Labelling and Packaging of substances and mixtures (CLP); material has been updated and amended to reflect other ongoing reviews of technical guidance associated with COSHH, e.g. for Local Exhaust Ventilation (LEV), and on Health Surveillance; clarification of Regulation 9 and local exhaust ventilation (LEV), explaining that the legal duty ‘to keep a suitable record of thorough examination and test’ lies with the employer and not with any service provider or consultant; guidance on the principles of good practice has been removed from Schedule 2a of the ACOP and either repositioned next to the relevant regulation (e.g. Regulation 7) or will be made available separately on the HSE website; specialist terminology has been clarified where possible; and information concerning worker involvement and consultation has been amended to be consistent with that in other ACOPs.
  4. The Health and Safety Executive is Britain’s national regulator for workplace health and safety. It aims to reduce work-related death, injury and ill health. It does so through research, information and advice; promoting training; new or revised regulations and codes of practice; and working with local authority partners by inspection, investigation and enforcement.

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