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What do the different COSHH symbols mean in the workplace?

  • July 29, 2020
  • boss

When it comes to health and safety, having a good basic understanding of the different rules and regulations will help you stay compliant and keep those under your duty of care safe. The COSHH symbols are essential when it comes to illustrating potential hazards to your employees and how they should be managed.


In today’s article we have a look at the different types of COSHH symbols, what hazard they relate to, and why you need to implement it in your business


  • Flammable


The flammable COSHH symbol is used to notify workers of the presence of chemicals that may catch fire. The substances typically have a low flashpoint. The main symbol used is an open flame in a red diamond.


  • Oxidising


The oxidising COSHH symbol is used to show when a substance may react exothermically with another substance. The symbol used for this sign is a flame over a circle in a red diamond.



  • Gases under pressure


The gases under pressure COSHH symbol represents when gases are contained in a pressurised container. The symbol is a gas cylinder within a red diamond. This is shown when gas may explode from heat exposure for example.



  • Explosives


This COSHH symbol is used when a substance is present that has the potential to explode. The symbol used is an exploding bomb within a red diamond.







  • Corrosive


The corrosive COSHH symbol is used when the substance may damage tissue on contact. It could also be corrosive to metals and cause eye damage on exposure. The symbol shows a substance corroding a surface and skin within a red diamond.



  • Toxic


This COSHH symbol is used when chemicals are present that at even low doses can cause serious health damage. The symbol is a skull and crossbones within a red diamond. It can also be used to show if a substance is toxic if inhaled or swallowed.



  • Health hazards


This COSHH symbol is widely used and can signify when a substance is present that may cause damage to health. This sign can be used for a wide variety of dangers and is usually shown as an exclamation mark within a red diamond.



  • Serious health hazards


The serious health hazard COSHH symbol is used when a substance is known to cause very serious or long health effects. The symbol is depicted as a person with signs of internal damage in a red diamond.



  • Dangerous to the environment


The last primary COSHH symbol is used to show when a substance may be dangerous to the environment. These could cause both immediate and long term damage. The symbol shows a dead tree and fish within a red diamond.



Make sure you implement the COSHH symbols in the right place


Now that you have a basic understanding of what the different COSHH symbols mean, you need to make sure you know where you have to display them in the workplace. They will need to be placed safely when any of the different hazards apply to ensure all employees are aware of risk. You can find further guidance on COSHH regulations online.