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New International Hazardous Substances Symbols (COSHH in the UK)

On Safe Lines Free Advice on COSHH Health Risks and Management to Help You Manage Health and Safety Responsibilities -


Traditional COSHH Symbols : Many of us will be familiar with the age old orange and black hazardous substance symbols - they have been around for years and are instantly recognisable to all. They are found on everything from basic cleaning products to acids and has been with us since 1967 when the Dangerous Substances Directive (67/548/EEC) was passed.


Comparison of Old and New International COSHH Symbols


International symbols will replace the European symbols in 2009. Some of them are similar to the European symbols but there is no single word describing the hazard.  The most noticeable feature is the change in the labeling symbols: instead of the hazard symbols with black printing on orange-yellow rectangles that have been used to date, now nine hazard pictograms with black symbols on a white background with red-rimmed rhombuses are used to provide warnings


The new international hazard symbols and warning and precautionary phrases that must be used on labels which will eventually replace the danger signs, risk and safety phrases. There will be a transitional period as these are gradually phased in. The changes have to be completed by Dec 2010 for substances and by December 2015 for preparations.


The long transition period for the labeling systems (2009 - 2015) is intended to ensure that all of the relevant parties - public authorities, companies and stakeholders - are able to concentrate their resources on the new obligations in a timely manner.


New COSHH symbols


In order from top left to bottom right the symbols are:



Useful HSE Links


INDG 350 CHIP 4


INDG 352 Read the Label

INDG 136 Working with substances hazardous to health

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