A new set of regulations, the Dangerous Substances and Explosive Atmosphere Regulations (DSEAR) have recently been proposed by HSE. The new regulations implement two Directives which deal with flammable and explosive risks in the workplace - the Explosive Atmospheres Directive (ATEX 137) and the safety aspects of the Chemical Agents Directive (CAD). CAD also deals with health effects of dangerous substances, which will be implemented through amendments to existing legislation, mainly COSHH. DSEAR will modernise and repeal over 20 pieces of old safety legislation on flammable substances, dusts and liquids. At the same time, HSE will also take the opportunity to modernise petrol legislation.
HSE see the new regulations as an expansion of the general duty to manage risks under the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999, making explicit good practices for reducing the risks to people from fires, explosions and other energy releasing events arising from the use of dangerous substances. The regulations will complement the Equipment and Protective Systems Intended for Use in Potentially Explosive Atmospheres Regulations 1996. HSE expects that the effect of the new regulations on diligent employers will be small.
The main requirements of DSEAR are that employers and the self-employed must:
- Carry out a risk assessment of any work activities involving dangerous substances;
- Provide technical and organisational measures to eliminate or reduce to as far as is practical the identified risks;
- Provide equipment and procedures to deal with accidents and emergencies;
- Provide information and training to employees.
DSEAR will apply to any substance or preparation with the potential to create a risk to persons from energy-releasing events such as fires, explosions, runaway exothermic reactions, decomposition of unstable substances, etc. DSEAR is concerned with harmful physical effects such as thermal radiation (burns), overpressure effects (blast injuries) and oxygen depletion effects (asphyxiation). It is not concerned with health effects that arise from these substances, these are dealt with by the COSHH Regulations.
Enforcement of the regulations will be shared between HSE (industrial premises), Local Authorities (Environmental Health Officers) (retail premises), Fire Brigades (general fire precautions) and Petroleum Licensing Authorities (retail petrol filling stations).
What this means to you
You will need to determine whether dangerous substances are present in your workplace.
Any substance classified under CHIP as Explosive, Oxidising, Extremely Flammable, Highly Flammable or Flammable is a dangerous substance.
You must also look at the properties of the substance together with the circumstances in which it is used to see if the combination of these can create a safety risk. For example, many dusty substances can create explosive dust clouds in the right circumstances.
If dangerous substances are present, then DSEAR will apply to you.
When will this happen
The consultation period on the regulations has now closed and HSE are considering the comments received, with a view to producing the new regulations in late summer 2002, with transitional arrangements for ATEX-specific requirements until June 2003.
Who will be affected
The Regulations will apply to a wide variety of workplaces and work activities.
As well as those directly concerned with managing these risks, a variety of other people will also need to be made aware of the provisions of these regulations.
These include those who produce documentation such as safety data sheets (SDS), as the end users of dangerous substance will be expecting to find information needed to help comply with the regulations within the SDS.
As DSEAR, through CAD, will also apply to transport activities, DGSAs should also be aware of the main provisions of the regulations.
Further Information on DSEAR can be found on the HSE web-site at:
The consultative document can be found at:
Help is at hand
The NCEC's Product Safety Support Service (PS 3 ) experts offer advice and assistance in helping to ensure your Safety Data Sheets are fully compliant with these and other regulations.
If you too wish to have further advice, please contact NCEC's Mr Bill Faupel