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Understanding the risks from exposure and how to control these, including Respiratory Protective Equipment

​​​Work processes may involve the use of a variety of chemicals and substances that can create fumes, dusts and other substances.

Breathing in hazardous substances at work can put your employees' health at risk and may cause a range of respiratory diseases and conditions from asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and cancers​. It can also cause other diseases of the airways and lungs, for example airway obstruction, bronchitis or lung cancers. As well as this, it can cause cancer in other parts of the body, nervous system diseases and disorders of reproductive organs.​

Use the links below to find information and resources on how to assess the risks to breathing, the equipment you can use and your legal duties.​​

  1. Common breathing hazards
  2. Precautions for breathing
  3. Respiratory protective equipment
  4. Legal duties to protect breathing

4. Legal duties to protect breathing

Control of Substances Hazardous to Hea​lth Regulations 2002 (COSHH)

These set out the legal requirements for protecting people at work against risks to their health.

To comply, you need to

  • assess the risk to health arising from work activities
  • decide what precautions need to be taken to prevent or control the risk​
  • ensure control measures are used and maintained properly
  • inform, instruct and train workers about the risks and precautions needed​​
  • provide health surveillance as appropriate​​
  • monitor worker exposure​.

You can find out more about COSHH on our Common Hazard pages

Visit our Common Hazard pages

The Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974

This ​places general duties on employers to ensure that people are not exposed to unnecessary risks to their health or safety arising from the employer’s work activities.

You can find out more about the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act on the HSE site

Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012

You can find out about the Control of Asbestos Regulations on the HSE site.