Dangerous Substances Legislation

Petroleum (Consolidation) Regulations 2014

The Petroleum (Consolidations) Regulations 2014 combine, update and replace several previous items of legislation ranging from the Petroleum (Consolidation) Act 1928 up to the Petroleum Spirit (Plastic Containers) Regulations 1982. Concurrently, various related guidance notes and formal documents on the carriage, handling and storage of petroleum have also been replaced with new versions.

The regulations apply to two distinct groups – workplaces that store petrol for dispensing into the tanks of vehicles, and non-workplaces storing petrol but not necessarily dispensing it. The latter includes private homes, clubs, associations and similar organisations.

Much further than the previous regulations, the private holder can now store up to 30 litres in the home without informing your local Petroleum Enforcement Authority (PEA) though there are still requirements to store it within suitable containers, whether they be a number of portable containers, a single demountable tank, or a combination of these. Above 30 litres the private holder is required to inform the local PEA.

Changes to the requirements placed upon workplaces that store and dispense petrol are largely administrative while for those workplaces that do not dispense, the storage of petrol is considered an ancillary activity that does not need certification. The practical requirements for all workplaces, however, remain unchanged and DSEAR 2002 continues to require a risk assessment based approach from the holder.

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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. The 2015 amendment to the regulations also covers gases under pressure and substances that are corrosive to metals.

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 and the DSEAR regulations: 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 Explosive Regulations 2014 extensively amends the explosive legislation.

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The Explosives Regulations 2014

ER 2014 came into force on 1st October 2014 and was designed to consolidate, modernise and simplify existing explosives regulations. This included the withdrawal of the Approved Code of Practice to the Manufacture and Storage of Explosives Regulations 2005. It brought together the health and safety requirements relating to explosives legislation into a framework based around common topics such as authorisation, safety, security and placing on the market.

Safety Provisions

The safety provisions of ER 2014 apply to dutyholders such as employers, private individuals and other people who manufacture explosives, store large quantities of explosives, or store explosives that present higher hazards or greater risks of initiation.

Regulation 26: Fire and explosive measures

Any person who manufactures or stores explosives must take appropriate measures, including:-

  • 26 (1) (a) – Preventing fire or explosion
  • 26 (1) (b) – Limiting the extent of fire or explosion including measures to prevent the spread of fires and the communication of explosions from one location to another
  • 26 (1) (c) – Protecting persons from the effect of fire or explosion

Those with responsibility will have taken the necessary steps to identify the appropriate measures they are required to take under Regulation 26 (1) if they comply with the risk assessment requirements of the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999, DSEAR, local fire safety legislation and, where applicable, the Control of Major Accident Hazards Regulations 2015.

Regulations 27 and 13 (6): Separation distances

This requires people storing explosives to maintain separation distances, identifies the circumstances in which separation distances do not need to be applied, and identifies how separation distances are applied to certain sites that are granted a licence by the HSE (Health & Safety Executive) or ONR (Office for Nuclear Regulation).

Regulation 28: Discarding, disposal and decontamination

Anyone discarding or disposing of explosives, or who is decontaminating explosive-contaminated items, is required to ensure, so far as reasonably practicable, that they are undertaking those activities safely.

Regulation 29: Prohibitions concerning manufacture, storage and importation of certain explosives

This prohibits the manufacture and storage and import of pyrotechnics containing sulphur and/or phosphorus mixed with chlorates without the approval of the HSE.

Regulation 13: While all of the above regulations are contained entirely within the safety provisions, only parts of Regulation 13 fall with the provisions. It also relates to the granting of licences.

Regulation 13 allows greater freedoms for the HSE and ONR to set rules specific to the site/dutyholder at hand beyond those set out elsewhere, particularly regarding separation distances and the activities of those who manufacture or store explosives. Additionally, Regulation 13 allows all licensing authorities to reinforce the requirements of regulation 26 as they relate to the sale of pyrotechnic articles at a site which is licensed for the storage of explosives.

Guide to ER 2014 Safety Provisions

Security Provisions

The security provisions in ER2014 can be found in three parts of the Regulations.

Part 10 comprises three regulations which relate to the prevention of the unauthorised access to, or acquisition of explosives. The three regulations are:

  • Regulation 30: This requires dutyholders to take appropriate measures to prevent unauthorised people having access to either the places where the explosives are manufactured, stored or kept or to the explosives themselves.
  • Regulation 31: Provides a framework for the lawful transfer of relevant explosives.
  • Regulation 32: Prohibits the employment of prohibited persons in positions where they handle or control relevant explosives.

Part 11 comprises five regulations which relate to the traceability of civil explosives, the records to be kept for both relevant and civil explosives, and the reporting of losses of relevant explosives. The five regulations are:

  • Regulation 33 provides a framework for the unique identification of civil explosives.
  • Regulation 34 provides a framework for the attribution of manufacturing site codes for civil explosives.
  • Regulation 35 requires records to be kept for relevant explosives and identifies the information that those records should contain. It also identifies those people who are not required to keep records and states that when regulation 36 comes into force, explosives that are both relevant explosives and civil explosives will only need records to be kept under regulation 36.
  • Regulation 36 requires records to be kept for civil explosives. The regulation also identifies what those records should contain and those people who are not required to keep records of civil explosives.
  • Regulation 37 requires dutyholders to report losses of relevant explosives, and to have in place proportionate systems to identify that a loss of a relevant explosive has occurred.

Regulation 36 requires records to be kept for civil explosives and identifies what those records are.

Part 12 comprises one regulation relating to plastic explosives:

  • Regulation 38 prohibits the manufacture, transfer and import of plastic explosives unless they are marked with a detection agent.

Guide to ER 2014 Security Provisions

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Further Information

The Petroleum (Consolidation) Regulations 2014

The Dangerous Substances and Explosive Atmospheres Regulations 2002

The Explosives Regulations Regulations 2014

Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999

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March 28, 2011[Last updated: April 3, 2020]

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