Chemical Hazard Calculator
Terms & Conditions of Use
This application is made freely available by Trident HS&E Ltd ("Trident") to anyone who feels it may help them with their COSHH/chemical assessment procedures. The application interface was designed and developed by Ed Osborn ("Developer").
The ‘lookup values’ have been set by Trident on a ‘best endeavours’ basis based on what Trident considers to be a sensible rationale. However, you should review these and see whether they are appropriate for your needs.
Neither Trident nor Developer accept any liability for:
- decisions made, actions taken or subsequent consequences arising from the use of this application, or
- the maintenance, modification or further development of this application
You may opt to provide name and email address "Personal Data" when using this application. Trident and Developer will only use your Personal Data for the purposes of:
- fixing bugs you have experienced when using the application, and
- keeping you informed of any updates made to the application (provided that you have expressly opted into such updates).
Neither Trident nor Developer will pass on your Personal Data on to any third party without your express permission
All icons used in this application are designed by Freepik from Flaticon and used under the Flaticon Basic Licence.
Search Hazard Statements
Overall Hazard Rating:
Specific Hazard Values:
Frequently Asked Questions
This app is designed to assist you with your COSHH/chemical assessment procedures. On the Search screen, you can enter one or more hazard statements from the Safety Data Sheet (SDS) provided by your supplier for the substance in question. The app will return an overall hazard score (on a scale of 1-5 by default), as well as individual scores for specific routes of entry (e.g. inhalation).
Each hazard statement is assigned its own scores. Where multiple statements are selected, the final report will show the highest hazard score for each category. For example, if you select two hazard statements, one with an 'ingestion' score of 2 and the other with an 'ingestion' score of 4, the report for your substance will be 4, as this will override the 2.
Although this app will accept the old 'risk phrases' you would, where possible, be better advised to use 'hazard statements' as risk phrases are being phased out.
To use this facility properly you will need an up-to-date Safety Data Sheet (SDS). All SDSs have 16 sections. It is essential that you take the hazard statements or risk phrases from the correct section of the SDS.
This is slightly complicated in that, at present, there are two formats of SDS in circulation:
- The old UK format (which is being phased out); and
- The new EU format, which manufacturers are now obliged by law to use
Since June 2015 manufacturers have been obliged to issue SDSs in the new format prescribed by the EU REACH/CLP Regulations.
To confirm whether you have an SDS in this format, check at the top of page 1 - it should have text like REACH 1907/2006, 453/2010 or 1272/2008.
If this is not the case, and certainly if the SDS doesn't have hazard statements (just risk phrases), it is well out of date and you would be ill-advised to rely on it. Manufacturers/suppliers are legally obliged to provide you with an up-to-date safety data sheet, though they may need reminding!
Whether you use H-statements or R-phrases, it is important that you take them from the right place in the SDS
New Format (REACH/CLP)
With the NEW format (REACH/CLP) the information should be taken from section 2 (Hazards identification), which gives the classification of the substance as a whole.
Do not take the H-statements / R-phrases from section 3 (Composition/information on ingredients). Some components are present in such small proportions that their hazard is so diluted that it doesn't need to be included in the classification as a whole. If you take hazard statements from section 3 you will most likely be painting a much worse picture of the hazard than really exists (but erring on the safe side).
Unfortunately, some chemical suppliers choose not to put the hazard statement number, just the text, e.g. they may put 'May cause cancer by inhalation'. This app allows you to search by the text and find the corresponding hazard statement number. As you enter the text in the search field the matching entries will start to appear.
Old Format (CHIP)
With the OLD format (CHIP) data sheets you should take the risk phrases from SECTION 15 (not section 2 or 3) as this is the classification of the substance as a whole, taking account of dilution factors etc.
Again, if you take the values from section 2 or section 3 you will most likely be painting a much worse picture of the hazard than really exists (but erring on the safe side).
Rationale for H&S (relationship between new 'GHS hazard statements' and old UK 'CHIP' Risk Phrases)
If 'fatal' appears in the text of a GHS hazard statement, this is considered equivalent to 'very toxic' in UK system
- and GHS 'toxic' still correlates to UK 'toxic'
- and GHS 'harmful' still correlates to UK 'harmful'
It may be noticed that where HSE associate a risk/hazard statement with a score of '4', this app assigns a value of '5'. There is a good reason for this which should be explained:
The HSE scheme basically works on a 1 to 4 scale (not 1 to 5, like ours). '4' is the maximum value that is processed by COSHH Essentials.
The HSE assigns:
- '4' or 'D' to ACUTE hazards that may cause death or serious harm (e.g. cyanide gas). i.e. the effect is immediate or quite soon after exposure
- '5' or 'E' to hazards that may cause death on a chronic basis (cancer etc). The COSHH Essentials system is not designed to cater for these. The system will simply say that you need to engage specialist advice
So when the HSE assign a score of '4', it doesn't mean that it is any less hazardous than one with '5'. Both are equally dangerous - just different - one kills (or causes serious harm) in the short term, the other in the long term.
So, in summary, scoring on the 1 - 5 basis will be:
- 1 : Irritating
- 2 : Harmful
- 3 : Cumulative effects; Respiratory irritation; Causes burns
- 4 : Toxic; Danger to internal organs; Causes severe/serious damage; Allergic dermatitis; 'Risk of' or 'suspected of' being reprotoxic
- 5 : Very Toxic (UK R-phrase); 'Fatal' (GHS H-Statement); 'May be' reprotoxic
- Low : Irritating (i.e. corresponds to '1' on the 1 to 5 system)
- Medium : Harmful, Cumulative effects etc (i.e. corresponds to '2' or '3' on the 1 to 5 system)
- High : Toxic, Very toxic etc (i.e. corresponds to '4' or '5' on the 1 to 5 system)
Rationale for fire and explosion
- 3 : May cause fire / flammable
- 4 : Highly or extremely flammable, cryogenic hazard
- 5 : Any reference in the hazard description text concerned with explosion, violent reaction or spontaneous ignition
Rationale for environment
- 3 : Harmful to... Or adverse effects
- 4 : Toxic to... Or threat to ozone layer
- 5 : Very toxic to...
Your attention is drawn to the Health and Safety Executive's online facility 'COSHH Essentials': http://www.hse.gov.uk/coshh/essentials/
We highly recommend that if you have any responsibilities for COSHH within your organisation then you should look at this.
This system offers 'Direct Advice Sheets' which may be suited to your particular industry. It also offers a 'COSHH Essentials e-tool' which is, in many respects, more comprehensive than this spreadsheet facility.
As well as determining the hazard severity from 'Hazard statements' or 'Risk phrases' (returning a value from A to E) it also:
- assesses the possible likelihood and extent of exposure to hazardous substances
- caters for multiple chemicals being used in a single activity (whereas this facility only processes one at a time)
- recommends suitable risk control measures. This sets out what HSE consider to be 'good control practice'
There is merit in using the COSHH Essentials system in that it may be referred to by HSE and Local Authority Inspectors when visiting your site. Inspectors may use this system on their laptop/tablet in order to determine the adequacy of your risk control measures.
Although it is not mandatory to follow the guidance in COSHH Essentials:
- Being 'official guidance', if you do choose to follow it, you will usually be doing enough to comply with the law
- It is referred to in the COSHH Approved Code of Practice (paragraphs 120, 121) (refer to paragraphs 120 to 123 and 'Figure 1' on pages 33-34 of the ACoP for more information)
If you do use the COSHH Essentials system, don't be surprised that, when you have entered the hazard statements, it may return a different value for 'Hazard Group' (A - E) than this app. This is because our lookup method is slightly different from theirs (see the 'How are the scores in the report calculated?' tab above for more information).
If, in the SDS (usually in section 1), you see mention of a 'REACH Registration Number' and any mention of 'PROCs' or 'ERCs', then be aware of the following:
This is known as an 'Extended Safety Data Sheet'. It has a special legal significance for the user of the substance. It should have with it an annex, which contains details of 'Exposure Scenarios':
- If these 'Exposure Scenarios' are called 'PROCs' then they relate to health and safety issues
- If these 'Exposure Scenarios' are called 'ERCs' then they relate to environmental/pollution issues
You will most likely have legal duties to ensure your risk control measures conform to these exposure scenarios within 12 months of receipt of the SDS or have a sound justification as to why your existing control measures equal (or better) the precautions outlined in the exposure scenario relevant to your method of use of the substance. If you are not familiar with the concept of 'exposure scenarios' (which are relatively recent within the last few years) then you should take advice:
- We recommend the leaflets produced by the UK REACH Competent Authority (HSE), which are particularly helpful in understanding REACH and CLP: http://www.hse.gov.uk/reach/bitesize.htm
- Leaflet N°. 4 ('What REACH means for users of chemicals') is probably the most helpful in terms of understanding 'Exposure Scenarios'. See also leaflet N°. 13 (Safety Data Sheets)
- Further information can be obtained via the REACH Competent Authority Helpdesk at UKREACHCA@hse.gsi.gov.uk. We find that the staff there are extremely helpful.
There is more to COSHH than just H-statements!
You may find that the use of this app gives you an answer which indicates that the level of hazard is very low, or non-existent – and there may not be any H-statements or R-phrases on the safety data sheet. Indeed, in Section 2 you may see text such as 'Not a hazardous substance or mixture according to Regulation (EC) No. 1272/2008'.
But beware! You also need to look at section 8, which should tell you whether there are any occupational exposure limits applicable. In the UK these are the Workplace Exposure Limits (WELs). In this case there are clearly risks that need to be considered in any COSHH assessment, particularly via the inhalation route. These risks could, for example, be due to the physical nature of the substance such as dusts or fibres, together with its morphology (particle shape and abrasiveness to lung tissue).
Similarly, substances such as pesticides (insecticides, rodenticides, herbicides etc) may not be assigned hazard statements but may have nevertheless be harmful to people using them (or exposed to them).
The same also applies to biocides which may, for example, be used with coolants (aka suds or metal working fluids).
And, talking of coolants, don’t forget that the safety data sheet for these may not indicate any hazard to health but, once in use, become contaminated with ‘fines’ (small particles of metal which can abrade the skin) and bacteria. So coolants may cause dermatitis and occupational asthma. You would find the HSE resources (COSHH Essentials) very helpful in managing these risks – click here.
No computer system is a replacement for the ‘little grey cells’!
In our opinion, neither this app, nor the HSE’s COSHH Essentials system, nor any proprietary product can do your COSHH assessments for you – regardless of any claims to this effect that they may make in their sales literature or sales representatives!
At the end of the day, a COSHH assessor must, to quote that famous Belgian detective, 'use their little grey cells' and:
- physically look at the plant, process or activity which uses (or generates) hazardous substances
- talk to the staff involved (operators, supervisors, managers etc)
- understand what actually happens in practice (and malpractice!), and
- consider how things may go wrong, resulting in accidental exposure, explosion, etc.
To this end, anyone carrying out a COSHH assessment needs to have some basic training. In other words they need to be 'competent'. Anyone being asked to become involved with COSHH assessment would be well advised to take a look at the HSE’s document HSG 97 'A step by step guide to COSHH Assessment'. Competence is covered at paragraphs 114 onwards. You don’t necessarily need to be an expert chemist to do COSHH assessments.
Unfortunately, the HSE haven’t yet updated HSG97 (2004) to take account of EU legislation such as REACH or CLP so, for instance, doesn’t mention ‘hazard statements’. Nevertheless it does still remain valid in its general advice for COSHH assessors.
We would draw your attention to some key elements of this guidance:
- It explains the concept of ‘proportionality’ i.e. the amount work (and the level of competence) in carrying out a COSHH Risk assessment will depend on the complexity of risk. It says:
- The legal requirement is for assessment to be 'suitable and sufficient'. More serious and complex risks require greater consideration to meet this requirement, simpler and lower risk situations will require less, and
- COSHH doesn’t aim to transform employers and their staff into experts. The aim is always to devise [risk control] measures that will work in the real circumstances. That is dependent on a thorough appreciation of what happens in real life and it is employers and their staff who know that best. For this reason, assessment should always be started in-house.
- COSHH is not a bureaucratic exercise. It is about making sure things are done to reduce pain and suffering caused by ill health.
We hope that this app (together with these FAQs) will help you to determine the level of hazard to health associated with substances encountered in the workplace and this, in turn, will help you to better understand and control risks to health with and reduce the above-mentioned burden of pain and suffering to victims (and the bereaved).
Hazard value output
If you wish to send us your contact email address, we will endeavour to inform you if we make any updates to this app. Please address any such requests to email@example.com, giving contact details.
Also, please do inform us if the app is not working as expected.
Your details will not be passed on to third parties or used for purposes other than those specified in the Terms & Conditions.