Understanding the Differences Between Safety Data Sheets (SDS) and COSHH Assessments

Published 28th May 2019

(and why both SDS and COSHH assessments are necessary for assessing the risks involved when working with hazardous substances).

Whether you are a retailer, brand, manufacturer or chemical producer, understanding the differences between SDS and COSHH are essential for worker safety.

It is a common misconception that a risk assessment is the identification of the hazardous properties of a substance; the hazardous properties of a substance constitute its potential to cause harm, while the risk is the likelihood that it will cause harm in the actual circumstances of use.


Safety Data Sheets (SDS)

Safety Data Sheets (SDS) provide information on chemical products that help users of those chemicals to make a risk assessment. They describe the hazards the chemical presents and give information on chemical handling, storage and emergency measures in case of accident.

Safety Data Sheets (SDS) alone do not constitute a risk assessment but are simply the starting reference point for such an assessment. It is important to remember that the SDS only gives you information about the substance itself – you must assess the risk from use of the substance in the actual work activity, taking into consideration factors such as quantities used, concentrations, worker environments etc.


COSHH (Control of Substances Hazardous to Health) Assessments

Under the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 2002, employers need to either prevent or reduce their workers’ exposure to substances that are hazardous to their health. Essentially, the COSHH Regulations provide a framework to protect people at work against health risks that may arise from work activities that expose them to hazardous substances.

It is important to understand the difference between these two concepts. The purpose of a chemical risk assessment is to ensure that a valid decision is made about the control measures that are necessary to prevent or control exposure to substances hazardous to health.


Begin your pathway to responsible chemical management

Understanding the differences between Safety Data Sheets (SDS) and COSHH assessments are just one of the many areas of knowledge that Chem-MAP® can help your company develop through one of our three dedicated chemical management programmes;


Through the m-MAP and c-MAP programmes, Chem-MAP® can provide your staff with training and auditing on chemical handling and storage, with the goal of implementing a robust chemical management system at the relevant sites.


Get in touch with one of our chemical management experts today through info@chem-map.com or call +44 (0)1604 679 999. You can also complete the contact form at the bottom of this page.

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