Chemical substances are widely used for various activities within the University and all of them will have varying potential to cause harm. It is essential that safety management systems are put in place to ensure that staff using chemicals are informed of the potential hazards. Chemicals should only be purchased in the knowledge that appropriate storage, handling facilities, control measures to include personal protective equipment, procedures for their use and disposal arrangements are in place.
Several items of legislation currently exist detailing the requirements for safety compliance relating to the use of chemicals in the workplace. The major regulations are summarised below:  More detailed information on these can be accessed within the chemical safety guidance section of the SEPS website.

Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 2002 (COSHH):

This is the cornerstone of chemical safety compliance and requires a formal ‘assessment’ to be carried out to determine the hazards involved and the precautions necessary to be put in place to avoid chemical exposure from the work to be undertaken or, where appropriate, to reduce exposure to below known Workplace Exposure Limits (WELs).  It also requires engineering control measures used to be inspected and maintained. No work involving chemicals should be performed without an assessment having been recorded. Examples of COSHH forms can be obtained from the Chemical Safety section of SEPS website.


Dangerous Substances and Explosive Atmospheres Regulations 2002 (DSEAR):

Where quantities of flammable liquid/vapour or compressed gases are being used or have a potential to be released into the atmosphere, specific control measures relating to controlling these flammable and/or explosive atmospheres must be put in place.


Chemical Licences:

Chemicals with specific properties require a licence before they can be purchased, stored, produced or exported. The following may relate to research areas within the university:  All licence applications should be informed to SEPS prior to their submission.

Chemical Weapons Act /Convention:

This legislation is enforced by the Department of Energy & Climate Change and relates to chemicals with a potential to be used in mass destruction. The chemicals are placed in 3 categories called schedules. Schedule 1 chemicals require a licence. A declaration including an annual return has to be completed by Schools / Institutes which have Schedule 2 and/or Schedule 3 chemicals and forwarded annually to SEPS by mid-December for registering with the national authority. Further information can be found on our Chemical Weapons Convention sub page.

Controlled Drugs & Drug Precursors:

The Home Office ( is responsible for issuing a licence in relation to these drugs. Any School wishing to produce or posses a controlled drug must have a licence and staff having access to this chemical must have undergone a Criminal Record Bureau check. Only category 1 precursor chemicals require a licence. The full list of controlled drugs and precursors can be found on SEPS website.  Schools/Institutes should note that specific safety management systems relating to security, chemical usage and disposal records are required to be put in place before such licences are issued.

Desensitised Explosives:

Schools /Institutes wishing to purchase such chemicals must be in possession of a Police Explosive Certificate. For quantities less than 30Kg they also require a Storage Registration, for quantities over 30 Kg a Storage Licence is required. The Police Authorities require specific safety management systems tom be put in place before a licence will be granted.  A list of desensitised explosive chemicals can be found on the SEPS website.


Disposal of chemical waste

For information on the arrangements and requirements for disposal of chemical waste please see Waste Guidance pages of SEPS website.