Hazardous Substances: COSHH Hazard Symbols

Hazard Symbols COSHH | Identify the 9 Classes of Hazard

COSHH Hazard Symbols | Quick Intro

If you are dealing with substances which may be hazardous to health, it would be useful to get familiar with the globally standardised hazard symbols. 

Hazard pictograms alert us to the presence of a hazardous chemical or substance.

The hazard symbols help us to recognise that the chemicals we are using might cause harm to people or the environment. 

When it comes to COSHH assessment, they help us to evaluate chemical compatibility and allow us to put suitable controls measures in place to protect people and property.

Hazardous Substances: COSHH Hazard Symbols

The CLP hazard pictograms are very similar to those used in the old labelling system and appear in the shape of a diamond with a distinctive red border and white background. 

One or more pictograms might appear on the labelling of a single chemical.

What are the 9 COSHH Hazard Symbols?

Let’s take a look the 9 COSHH Hazard Symbols and what they mean for employee health and your business…

flammable hazard symbol


WHAT DOES IT MEAN? Extremely flammable gas, Flammable gas, Extremely flammable aerosol, Flammable aerosol, Highly flammable liquid and vapour, Flammable liquid and vapour, Flammable solid EXAMPLES: Lamp oil, petrol, nail polish remover

irritant hazard symbol


WHAT DOES IT MEAN? May cause OR does cause various conditions, such as, respiratory irritation, drowsiness or dizziness, allergic skin reaction, serious eye or skin irritation Harmful if swallowed, in contact with skin etc. EXAMPLES: Washing detergents, toilet cleaner, coolant fluid

toxic hazard symbol


WHAT DOES IT MEAN? The substance can be toxic/fatal if swallowed, in contact with skin or if inhaled EXAMPLES: Pesticide, biocide, methanol

coshh symbol

Environmental Hazard

WHAT DOES IT MEAN? Very toxic to aquatic life with long lasting effects Toxic to aquatic life with long lasting effects EXAMPLES: Pesticides, biocides, petrol, turpentine

corrosive hazard symbol


WHAT DOES IT MEAN? May be corrosive to metals Causes severe skin burns and eye damage EXAMPLES: Drain cleaners, acetic acid, hydrochloric acid, ammoniac

oxidising hazard symbol


WHAT DOES IT MEAN? May cause or intensify fire; oxidiser. May cause fire or explosion; strong oxidiser. EXAMPLES: Bleach, oxygen for medical purposes

health and safety at work act

Serious Health Hazard

WHAT DOES IT INDICATE? May be fatal if swallowed and enters airways, causes damage to organs, may damage fertility or the unborn child, may/suspected of cause cancer or genetic defects EXAMPLES: Turpentine, petrol, lamp oil

explosive hazard symbol


WHAT DOES IT INDICATE? Substance may be any of following: an unstable explosive, mass explosion hazard, severe projection hazard, fire, blast or projection hazard, may mass explode in fire. EXAMPLES: Fireworks, ammunition

compressed gas hazard symbol

Gas Under Pressure

WHAT DOES IT INDICATE? Contains gas under pressure; may explode if heated. Contains refrigerated gas; may cause cryogenic burns or injury. EXAMPLES: Gas containers, cylinders, air conditioning unit

COSHH Hazard Symbols | Some Reminders

In the UK, ‘COSHH’ is the law that requires employers to control substances that are hazardous to health. You can prevent or reduce workers exposure to hazardous substances by:

  • finding out what the health hazards are;
  • deciding how to prevent harm to health (risk assessment);
  • providing control measures to reduce harm to health;
  • making sure they are used ;
  • keeping all control measures in good working order;
  • providing information, instruction and training for employees and others;
  • providing monitoring and health surveillance in appropriate cases;
  • planning for emergencies.

Most businesses use substances, or products that are mixtures of substances. Some processes create substances.

These could cause harm to employees, contractors and other people.

Sometimes substances are easily recognised as harmful. Common substances such as paint, bleach or dust from natural materials may also be harmful.

In other circumstances, the potential harm caused by a substance or material may not be easily recognised or even understood.

Listen to our COSHH podcast for more useful tips on hazard management.

COSHH Hazard Symbols causing Confusion?


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