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Hazardous substances policy

This guidance describes the approach to managing significant risk for all activities on University property that use or could produce hazardous substances.


Information not provided
Approval date
16 Mar 2017
Approved by
University Health and Safety Committee
Date of last review
07 Mar 2023
Date of next review
18 Mar 2025


Relevant legislation and guidance


The following definitions and explanations are taken from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE):

Good Control Practice

Good Control Practice means the application of eight generic principles to obtain effective and reliable control of exposure to hazardous substances once the duty to prevent exposure has been considered. The eight principles are defined in COSHH Regulation 7(7) and Schedule 2A as follows:

  1. Design and operate processes and activities to minimise emission, release and spread of substances hazardous to health.

  2. Take into account all relevant routes of exposure – inhalation, skin absorption and ingestion – when developing control measures.

  3. Control exposure by measures that are proportionate to the health risk.

  4. Choose the most effective and reliable control options which minimise the escape and spread of substances hazardous to health.

  5. Where adequate control of exposure cannot be achieved by other means, provide, in combination with other control measures, suitable personal protective equipment.

  6. Check and review regularly all elements of control measures for their continuing effectiveness.

  7. Inform and train all employees on the hazards and risks from the substances with which they work and the use of control measures developed to minimise the risks.

  8. Ensure that the introduction of control measures does not increase the overall risk to health and safety. Workplace Exposure Limits (WELs) are set by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) with the intent to prevent excessive exposure to specified hazardous substances by containing exposure below a set limit. A WEL is the maximum concentration of an airborne substance averaged over a reference period to which employees may be exposed by inhalation.

Policy statement

Every year, thousands of workers are made ill by hazardous substances, contracting lung disease such as asthma, cancer and skin disease such as dermatitis.

This policy covers all substances that are hazardous to health, which can take many forms. This includes chemicals, fumes, dusts, vapours, mists, nanomaterials, gases and biological agents.

The University of Bath is committed to providing and maintaining a safe and healthy work place and to protect its employees, students, contractors and visitors from exposure to harmful quantities of hazardous substances.

The University will aim to achieve this by ensuring that the exposure of employees to substances hazardous to health is either prevented or, where this is not reasonably practicable, adequately controlled to a level as low as reasonably practicable and below the defined Workplace Exposure Limit (WEL) where one exists.

When exposure cannot be prevented, the University will implement steps to control it adequately by applying the principles of good control practice.



The Vice-Chancellor (VC) has the overall day to day responsibility for health and safety matters at the University. The VC delegates responsibility for undertaking aspects of these duties through line management and identified roles.

The following people are identified as having responsibilities (in addition to any other responsibilities under other health and safety policy) for the management of hazardous substances in those areas, and for those relevant persons, that fall under their control:

Heads of all Departments

Heads of all Departments are responsible for ensuring that:

  • all staff are aware of, and adhere to, University policy, procedures and safe systems of work in order to ensure compliance with all relevant legislation relating to the use of hazardous substances as part of their operational work

  • up to date and accurate information regarding specific hazards associated with hazardous substances present in their area of responsibility is readily available to emergency services in the event of an incident

  • adequate facilities are provided and maintained to ensure that employees meet and maintain a standard of good control practice, including personal hygiene, which is consistent with adequate control of exposure

Line Managers

Line Managers are responsible for:

  • ensuring that all workers are adequately informed, instructed, trained and supervised to work with hazardous substances

  • ensuring that suitable and sufficient risk assessments are produced for each activity involving potentially hazardous substances and that such assessments are made available to those likely to be affected by them

  • ensuring that control measures identified in the risk assessment are effective, available, properly stored and maintained at suitable intervals

  • notifying SHEW if it is believed that there may have been a potential exposure to a hazardous substance in excess of a Workplace Exposure Limit (WEL)

Safety, Health & Employee Wellbeing

The University's Safety, Health & Employee Wellbeing Service (SHEW) is responsible for:

  • providing guidance and standards to enable the University to meet its duties under the regulations and this policy to be adequately implemented

  • advising on suitable monitoring arrangements for exposure to substances hazardous to health where required by risk assessment

  • arranging for the provision of suitable health surveillance, where it is appropriate for the protection of the health of employees who are, or are liable to be, exposed to a substance hazardous to health


Employees are required to:

  • maintain hygienic working conditions and employ good personal hygiene when working with hazardous substances

  • read relevant assessments and comply with the required control measures, such as conducting work in fume cupboards, wearing suitable lab coats and eye protection and observing waste disposal protocols

  • use any equipment and facilities provided for their protection in accordance with instruction and training and report any incident, accident or defects associated with these provisions

Associated resources

Safe use of hazardous substances standard

Chemical safety guidance

Biological safety guidance

Safe Use of Local Exhaust Ventilation and Guidance on the safe use of fume cupboards

Document control

Date of last review: This policy was reviewed and agreed at UHSC March 2023.
Date of next review: The next scheduled review is March 2025.

Using Hazardous substances in practice

Guidance on using hazardous substances


If you have any questions, please contact us.

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