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Hazardous substances (HSE guidance)

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Hazardous substances include all substances hazardous to health, controlled under COSHH, biocides and pesticides used in agriculture, horticulture and forestry (known as Poisonous Substances in Guernsey legislation)

We recognise the UK COSHH regulations as the appropriate standard.  Please see the useful links at the bottom of this page for additional guidance.

  • Substances hazardous to health

    • A substance hazardous to health is a substance or mixture with the potential to cause harm if they are inhaled, ingested, or come into contact, or are absorbed through the skin
    • This means any substance:
    •  a) which is listed in Table 3.2 of part 3 Annex VI of the CLP Regulation and for which an indication of danger specified for the substance is very toxic, toxic, harmful, corrosive or irritant;
    •  b) for which the UK Health and Safety Executive has approved a Workplace Exposure Limit;
    •  c) Which is a biological agent;
    •  d) Which is dust of any kind, except dust which is a substance within paragraph (a) or (b) above, when present at a concentration in air equal to or greater than
      • 10 mg/m3 as a time weighted average over an 8 hour period of inhalable dust; or
      • 4mg/m3 as a time weighted average over an 8 hour period of respirable dust;
    •  e) Which is classified as a Poisonous Substance in Guernsey;
    •  f) Which, not being a substance falling within sub-paragraphs (a) to (e), because of its chemical or toxicological properties and the way it is used or is present at the workplace creates a risk to health.
  • Control of Substance Hazardous to Health (COSHH)

    • General duties to assess, control and minimise exposure
    • The Health and Safety at Work (General) (Guernsey) Ordinance, 1987 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.
    • COSHH assessment
    • Assessing the risks from substances hazardous to health is the first step in effective control. Follow these steps:
      • What do you do that involves hazardous substances?
      • How can these cause harm?
      • How can you reduce the risk of harm occurring?
    • Always try to prevent exposure at source. For example:
      • Can you avoid using a hazardous substance or use a safer process - preventing exposure, eg using water-based rather than solvent-based products, applying by brush rather than spraying?
      • Can you substitute it for something safer - eg swap an irritant cleaning product for something milder, or using a vacuum cleaner rather than a brush?
      • Can you use a safer form, eg can you use a solid rather than liquid to avoid splashes or a waxy solid instead of a dry powder to avoid dust?
    • Check your trade press and talk to employees. At trade meetings, ask others in your industry for ideas.
    • If you can't prevent exposure, you need to control it adequately by applying the principles of good control practice.
    • Control is adequate when the risk of harm is 'as low as is reasonably practicable'. 
    • This means:
      • All control measures are in good working order.
      • Exposures are below the Workplace Exposure Limit, where one exists.
      • Exposure to substances that cause cancer, asthma or genetic damage is reduced to as low a level as possible.
  • Training and competence

    • All substance hazardous to health and chemicals
      • There are no preferred forms of training, but all workers using substances hazardous to health, including chemicals, pesticides, biocides and pest control products must be competent in their safe use. This includes receiving formal training, and having access to Safety Data Sheets and safe systems of work to undertake any work safely. 
    • Plant protection products (pesticides)
    • The Committee for Employment and Social Security has recognised the following schemes of competence for plant protection products:
    • Pest control products
    • The Committee for Employment and Social Security has recognised the following schemes of competence for pest control products:
  • Personal protective equipment and respiratory protective equipment

    • Employers are responsible for providing, replacing and paying for personal protective equipment. They must ensure they provide the correct standard of PPE and RPE to address the level of risk identified.
    • PPE should be used when all other measures are inadequate to control exposure. It protects only the wearer, while being worn.
    • If it fails, PPE offers no protection at all.
    • Types of PPE
    • When deciding about PPE ask the supplier, your trade association or the manufacturer.
      • Is it suitable for the conditions of the job?
      • Does it offer the right level of protection?
      • What sort of training or maintenance is required?
      • How do I know when it needs replacing?
    • It is important that employees know why they need PPE and are trained to use it correctly. Otherwise it is unlikely to protect as required.
      • Does it fit correctly?
      • How does the wearer feel? Is it comfortable?
      • Are all items of PPE compatible?
      • Does PPE interfere with the job being done?
      • Does PPE introduce another health risk, eg overheating, entanglement with machinery?
      • If PPE needs maintenance or cleaning, how is it done?
    • When employees find PPE comfortable they are far more likely to wear it.
    • CE marking and UKCA marking
    • PPE and RPE will need to be :
      • Correctly marked with the CE or UKCA marking, standard complied with, category of protection and a notified body number (eg. CE EN 149:2001+A1:2009 FFP2 NR NBxxxx); and
      • If CE marked: Accompanied by an EU Declaration of Conformity (self-certification of which standard compliance is claimed with - eg. EN 149:2001+A1:2009, including the notified body number and / or EU type-examination certificate reference); and
      • If CE marked: Covered by an EU type-examination certificate, design-examination certificate or a quality management system certificate from a notified body, which is approved to issue the certificate against the Personal Protective Equipment Regulation (EU) 2016/425 (list of 112 acceptable notified bodies; OR
      • If UKCA marked: Accompanied by an UK Declaration of Conformity; and
      • If UKCA marked: Covered by an UK type-examination certificate, design-examination certificate or a quality management system certificate from a conformity assessment body
      • Please follow this link for information about the UKCA mark
  • What are "poisonous substances" in Guernsey?

    • Unlike the UK, there is a single framework for the control of pesticides including plant protection products and biocides in Guernsey. This includes herbicides, insecticides, fungicides, algaecides, rodenticides etc, irrespective of their use (plant protection, or human / animal  / material protection).
    • Although the term pesticide is often used for plant protection products, it can also include biocides. For this reason, Guernsey legislation refers to Poisonous Substances.
    • The purpose of the Control of Poisonous Substances (Guernsey) Regulations, 2014 as amended, is -
      • to protect the health and safety of human beings, animals and plants, and
      • to safeguard the environment, and in particular, to avoid pollution of water.
    • Pesticides in general, including plant protection products and biocides, are prescribed in the Control of Poisonous Substances (Guernsey) Regulations 2014 as any substance, preparation or organism prepared or used for any of the following purposes:
      • protecting plants or wood or other plant products from harmful organisms;
      • regulating the growth of plants;
      • giving protection against harmful creatures;
      • rendering such creatures harmless;
      • controlling organisms with harmful or unwanted effects on water systems, buildings or other structures, or on manufactured products; and
      • protecting animals against ectoparasites
    • For further information on pesticides and plant protection products, please follow this link
  • Controlling plant protection products and biocides (known as "poisonous substances" in Guernsey)

    • Approval
    • There are slightly different frameworks for the approval of plant protection products and biocides. In simple terms, the approval of all poisonous substances (pesticides) in Guernsey follows the UK (GB+NI) and EU approvals:
    • What are my legal duties?
      • You must follow the Code of Practice for using plant protection products: pdf icon please follow this link for the Pesticides Code of Practice [3Mb].
      • The Regulations control the importation, advertising, storage, sale, supply and use of prescribed substances. 
      • Amateur products acquired from a retail outlet can be used for private use.
      • Professional products are for professional users only (commercial use) and can only be purchased by persons who hold a certificate of competency. Only people with a current National Proficiency Test Council Certificate (NPTC) of Competence can purchase professional pesticides / chemicals, and a certificate and / or identity card must be shown at the time of purchase.   For Training Information  - Telephone the College of Further Education on 01481 227500.
      • For licensed pesticides , the commercial user will need to pdf icon apply to the HSE [201kb] before purchasing and applying the product.
    • Antifouling Paints
    • Record keeping (including Pesticide Register)
      • A register must be kept by the employer under the provisions of the Poisonous Substances (Guernsey) Law, 1994.  All employees using a Poisonous Substance must be entered into this Register and the relevant information recorded.  pdf icon The PS3 register is available for download here [603kb].
      • A record of the risk assessment, material safety data sheet (MSDS), COSHH assessment and environmental assessment must be available to the workers using poisonous substances.
  • Pesticides, chemicals and hazardous waste disposal

    • HSE can provide initial advice about the safety of pesticides, chemicals and hazardous waste. You can contact HSE on 01481 220010 or
    • Collection and disposal are carried out by States Works (Guernsey Waste) - 01481 226263 or
    • Domestic users
      • Contact States Works on 226263 for advice on disposal of pesticides and chemicals.  They will arrange a time for the collection of the unwanted items.
      • Do not transport hazardous substances to States Works or the landfill yourself for safety reasons, e.g. spillage en route / fumes from the chemicals.  Please do not dispose of them independently, seek the advice of States Works (Guernsey Waste) first.  Email:
      • This service is normally free to householders.
    • Professional / commercial waste
      • This service is chargeable for commercial waste.
      • For most commercial waste, you are able to choose your own licensed waste provider. Some waste can be disposed of locally, but some particularly hazardous chemicals have to be recycled or incinerated off-island.
      • Contact States Works (Guernsey Waste) on 226263 or Email:
    • Exporting hazardous waste
      • This is the most expensive form of disposal and the States of Guernsey fully recover the costs for this service.
      • The waste cannot be shipped until the Environment Agency in England and the Waste Regulator (Office of Environmental Health and Pollution Regulation) in Guernsey has checked every item for shipment.  A bond has to be taken out to cover the full cost of returning the waste to the consignor if necessary.
      • The waste has to be traceable - this is known as 'Cradle to Grave'.
      • Contact States Works (Guernsey Waste) on 226263 or Email:



COSHH Risk Assessment Example HSE Guernsey best practice PPE and RPE 2020 HSE Respiratory Protective Equipment (RPE) at work HSG53 Anti Fouling Paint-Import Application Pesticides - Code of practice for using plant protection products PS3 Pesticide Use Register (Guernsey) Poisonous Substances - Application to Use a Licensed Chemical Guernsey approved substances List July 2022 Withdrawal of non-professional glyphosate herbicides - July 2022 List of Licensed and Prohibited Pesticides May 2023

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