Dangerous Substances Legislation

Petroleum Acts

Petroleum legislation says if you store more than three gallons in one pint containers you require to be licensed. There are exceptions for instance you can store two, two gallons containers if they are for use in a motor vehicle. Also you can store sixty gallons in a purpose built store, if for use in a motor vehicle and you are registered with the local Petroleum Authority.

The DSEAR modifies the petroleum legislation and introduces a risk assessment concept as opposed to the former prescribe methods that was used.

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The Dangerous Substances and Explosive Atmospheres Regulations 2002 (DSEAR)

Dangerous substances can put peoples’ safety at risk from fire and explosion. DSEAR puts duties on employers and the self-employed to protect people from risks to their safety from fires, explosions and similar events in the workplace, this includes members of the public who may be put at risk by work activity.

What are dangerous substances?

Dangerous substances are any substances used or present at work that could, if not properly controlled, cause harm to people as a result of a fire or explosion. They can be found in nearly all workplaces and include such things as solvents, paints, varnishes, flammable gases, such as liquid petroleum gas (LPG), dusts from machining and sanding operations and dusts from foodstuffs.

What does DSEAR require?

Employers must find out what dangerous substances are in their workplace and what the fire and explosion risks are and,

  • Put control measures in place to either remove those risks or where this is not possible, control them.
  • Put controls in place to reduce the effects of any incidents involving dangerous substances.
  • Prepare plans and procedures to deal with accidents, incidents and emergencies involving dangerous substances.
  • Make sure employees are properly informed about and trained to control or deal with the risks from the dangerous substances.
  • Identify and classify areas of the workplace where explosive atmospheres may occur and avoid ignition sources (from unprotected equipment, for example) in those areas.

1. These Regulations impose requirements for the purpose of eliminating or reducing risks to safety from fire, explosion or other events arising from the hazardous properties of a “dangerous substance” in connection with work. “Dangerous substance” is defined by regulation 2(1) to mean:

  • A substance or preparation which meets the criteria in the Approved Guide to the Classification and Labelling of Dangerous Substances and Dangerous Preparations (5th Edition) (ISBN 0717623696) for classification as a substance or preparation which is explosive, oxidising, extremely flammable, highly flammable or flammable, whether or not that substance or preparation is classified under the Chemicals (Hazard Information and Packaging for Supply) Regulations 2002 (S.I. 2002/1689);
  • A substance or preparation which because of its physicochemical or chemical properties and the way it is used or is present at the workplace creates a risk, not being a substance or preparation falling within subparagraph (a) above; or
  • Any dust, whether in the form of solid particles or fibrous materials or otherwise, which can form an explosive mixture with air or an explosive atmosphere, not being a substance or preparation falling within subparagraphs (a) or (b) above.

2. The Regulations implement, as regards Great Britain, Council Directive 98/24/EC (OJ No. L 131, 5.9.98, p.11) on the protection of the health and safety of workers from the risks related to chemical agents at work, so far as that Directive relates to safety, and Council Directive 99/92/EC (OJ No. L 23, 28.1.00, p.57) on minimum requirements for improving the safety and health protection of workers potentially at risk from explosive atmospheres. Both of these Directives are individual Directives within the meaning of Article 16(1) of Council Directive 89/391/EC.

3. The Regulations apply outside Great Britain in the same way that sections 1 to 59 and 80 to 82 of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 apply by virtue of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 (Application outside Great Britain) Order 2001 (regulation 12).

4. Regulation 3 contains disapplications in respect of certain provisions of the Regulations. Regulations 3 to 14 and 17(1) to (3) do not apply to the normal ship-board activities of a ship’s crew (regulation 3(1)). The duties under the Regulations on an employer in relation to his employees extend to non-employees, with certain savings (regulation 4(1)). The duties under the Regulations also extend to self-employed persons (regulation 4(2)).

5. An employer is required to carry out a suitable and sufficient assessment of the risks to his employees where a dangerous substance is or may be present at the workplace (regulation 5). “Risk” is defined as meaning “the likelihood of a person’s safety being affected by harmful physical effects being caused to him from fire, explosion or other events arising from the hazardous properties of a dangerous substance in connection with work and also the extent of that harm” (regulation 2(1)). Under regulation 3 of the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 (S.I. 1999/3242), an employer is already required to carry out a risk assessment. However, where a dangerous substance is or may be present at the workplace, he will now additionally need to assess the risks in the light of the requirements for the assessment under regulation 5 of these Regulations.

6. Employers are required by these Regulations to eliminate or reduce risk so far as is reasonably practicable. Where risk is not eliminated, employers are required, so far as is reasonably practicable and consistent with the risk assessment, to apply measures to control risks and mitigate any detrimental effects (regulation 6(3)).

7. Places at the workplace where explosive atmospheres may occur must be classified as hazardous or non-hazardous and hazardous places must be classified into zones on the basis of the frequency and duration of the occurrence of an explosive atmosphere (regulation 7(1) and Schedule 2). Equipment and protective systems in hazardous places must comply with the requirements of Schedule 3 (regulation 7(2)) and, where necessary, hazardous places must be marked with signs at their points of entry in accordance with Schedule 4 (regulation 7(3)).

8. Employers are required to make arrangements for dealing with accidents, incidents and emergencies (regulation 8). Employers will also need to provide employees with precautionary information, instruction and training where a dangerous substance is present at the workplace (regulation 9). Containers and pipes used at work for dangerous substances must, where not already marked in accordance with the requirements of the legislation listed in Schedule 5, clearly identify their contents (regulation 10).

9. Where two or more employers share a workplace where an explosive atmosphere may occur, the employer responsible for the workplace is to co-ordinate the implementation of the measures required by these Regulations (regulation 11).

10. Regulations 13 and 14 allow for exemptions to be made from all or any of the requirements of these Regulations. Amendments are made to legislation which mainly concerns petroleum-spirit (regulation 15 and Schedule 6) and repeals and revocations of legislation are also made (regulation 16 and Schedule 7). Regulation 17 makes transitional provision.

For more details go to

The Dangerous Substances and Explosive Atmospheres Regulations 2002 (DSEAR) in detail

Fire and explosion: Further information and guidance

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Explosives Act

The Explosives Act controls the safe use,storage,conveyance and manufacture of explosives by licensing applicants. The act is very complicated and responsibilities are not clearly defined.

There is a wide range of explosives covered by the Explosives Act and also regulations made under the Health and Safety at Work Act. These includes fireworks sold in shops known as shop goods to the blasting explosives used in mines and quarries.

The following MSER extensively amends the explosive legislation.

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The Manufacture and Storage of Explosives Regulations 2005 (MSER)

The MSER came into force on 26th April 2005 and extensively amends the explosive legislation. It applies to ‘anybody’ manufacturing or storing explosives and covers the manufacture, storage and handling of all explosives. If it applies to you you are required to carry out a risk assessment.

Regulation 3 of the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999
Regulation 5 of the Dangerous Substances & Explosives Atmospheres Regulations 2002

‘MSER’ imposes compliance for work or non-work purposes (this includes personal recreational use) such as:

Regulation 4: Fire and Explosive measures.

  • Part 1: Preventing fires and explosion (regulation 4(1)(a))
  • Part 2: Measure to limit the extent of fire or explosions (regulation 4(1)(b))
  • Part 3: Protecting people from the effects of fire and explosion (regulation 4(1)(c)
  • Part 4: Further guidance for particular activities.

Regulation 5: Separation distances

Regulation 6: Disposal of explosives and decontamination of explosives – contaminated items

Regulation 7: Employment of young people.

Regulation 8: Unauthorised access.

Licensing and registration requirements –

Regulation 9 through to regulation 23– Prohibitions concerning explosives and miscellaneous provisions –

Regulation 24 through to regulation 28 – Scale of fees for explosives licence’s

Regulation 10 – Licenses:

1. These Regulations make new provision for licensing the manufacture and storage of explosives and for registration in respect of the storage of explosives. As such, they repeal a large number of provisions contained in the Explosives Act 1875 (“the 1875 Act”) and instruments made under it, which provided the framework for the regulatory regime in relation to the manufacture and storage of explosives before these Regulations.

2. As before, a person wishing to manufacture or store explosives requires a licence to do so (regulations 9 and 10). This requirement is subject to the disapplications included in regulations 9 and 10. An application for a licence should be made to a licensing authority on a form approved by the Health and Safety Executive (“the Executive”) (regulation 12).

3. Where only a certain amount of explosives is to be stored, a person can apply to a licensing authority for registration in respect of that storage, instead of seeking a licence for it (regulation 11).

4. “Licensing authority” is defined by regulation 2(1) and Schedule 1; it means, in relation to registration or the storage of no more than 2000 kilograms of certain explosives, the chief officer of police or, where the explosives to be stored are of a type listed in Schedule 1 to the Control of Explosives Regulations 1991 (S.I. 1991/1531), the local authority for the area where the storage is to take place, or the Executive when the explosives are to be stored at a mine or a harbour. The Executive is the licensing authority in any other case.

5. The definition of explosive in regulation 2(1) does not include acetylene, which continues to be regulated as before under provisions of the 1875 Act and instruments made under it. The document called the United Nations Recommendations, which the definition of “explosive” refers to, and the Manual of Tests and Criteria, third edition, which supports those Recommendations, can be obtained from the Stationery Office Ltd., Books Sales and Service, P.O. Box 276, 51, Nine Elms Lane, London, SW8 5DR.

6. Subject to certain disapplications, a person wishing to store explosives must maintain the relevant separation distance prescribed by Schedule 2 between a store and buildings and other places not on the site where the storage takes place (regulation 5). “Separation distance” is defined in regulation 2(1).

7. In certain cases where the Executive is the licensing authority, the assent of the local authority is required before a licence is granted (regulations 13(3) and (4) and 14).

8. Grounds for refusing or varying a licence or registration are set out in, respectively, regulations 15 and 16. The grounds for revoking a licence or registration are set out in regulation 17. A person may appeal against a refusal or revocation of registration (regulation 19). Licenses and registration may be transferred (regulation 20).

9. A licensing authority is required to maintain a register on certain information relating to licenses or registrations granted or made by it (regulation 22 and Schedule 4).

10. Prohibitions concerning explosives are contained in regulations 24 and 25. Power to grant exemptions from the requirements or prohibitions imposed by the Regulations is included under regulation 26. Regulation 27 contains savings and transitional provisions so that, for example, licenses granted under the Explosives Act 1875 which are valid immediately before the coming into force of these Regulations continue in force on their existing terms subject to any variation, revocation or expiry on their expiry date.

11. Amendments to legislation are made by regulation 28(1) and Schedule 5. Repeals and revocations of legislation are made by regulation 28(2) and (3) and Schedule 6.

12. The Regulations also amend the Health and Safety (Fees) Regulations 2005 (S.I. 2005/676), so as to include fee provisions in those Regulations for the new licensing and registration provision made by these Regulations. The amendments also add fees in relation to the issue of explosives certificates under the Control of Explosives Regulations 1991 (regulation 28(1) and Schedule 5, paragraph 45).

Guide to Manufacture and Storage of Explosives Regulations 2005

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Further Information

The Dangerous Substances and Explosive Atmospheres Regulations 2002

Manufacture & Storage of Explosives Regulations 2005

Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999

The West Yorkshire FRS guidance on the storage of petroleum-spirit and certain types and quantities of explosives. Although only applies directly to West Yorks the guidance is relevant throughout the UK.

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March 28, 2011[Last updated: December 17, 2015]

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