Many of our Client’s across the UK and Ireland work in environments wherethe Dangerous Substances and Explosive Atmospheres Regulations (DSEAR) 2002, Part 8 Explosive Atmospheres at Places of Work (Safety, Health and Welfare at Work (General Application) Regulations 2007) or the DSEAR Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2003 apply.
We help them assess and manage the risks with our DSEAR Assessment service. If you would like to discuss your DSEAR Assessment requirements, get in touch via Live Chat or using the contact form below.
What is a DSEAR Assessment?
The primary legislation applying to ‘DSEAR assessment’ and the control of substances that can cause fires and explosions in the workplace is the Dangerous Substances and Explosive Atmospheres Regulations 2002 (DSEAR).
DSEAR requires employers to assess the risks of fires and explosions that may be caused by dangerous substances in the workplace.
From June 2015, DSEAR assessment also covers the risk caused by gases under pressure and substances that are corrosive to metals. These risks must then be eliminated or reduced as far as is reasonably practicable. The aim is to protect employees and other people who may be put at risk, such as visitors to the workplace and members of the public.
When is DSEAR Assessment required?
The need for DSEAR assessment usually applies when the following conditions are met:
What is covered by DSEAR?
The following examples illustrate the type of activities covered by a DSEAR risk assessment:
- storage of petrol as a fuel for cars, boats or horticultural machinery
- use of flammable gases, such as acetylene, for welding
- handling and storage of waste dusts in a range of manufacturing industries
- handling and storage of flammable wastes such as fuel oils
- welding or other ‘hot work’ on tanks and drums that have contained flammable material
- work that releases naturally occurring flammable substances e.g. methane
- use of flammable solvents in laboratories
- storage and display of flammable goods, such as paints in shops
- filling, storing and handling aerosols with flammable propellants such as LPG
- transporting flammable substances in containers around a workplace
- deliveries from road tankers, such as petrol and bulk powders
- chemical manufacturing, processing and warehousing
- handling, storage and use of gases under pressure
- handling, storage and use of substances corrosive to metal.
What are Dangerous Substances?
Dangerous substances are substances or mixtures of substances (called ‘preparations’ in DSEAR) that could create risks to people’s safety from fires and explosions or similar events, such as ‘thermal runaway’ from chemical reactions or are corrosive to metal. Liquids, gases, vapours and dusts that may be found in a workplace can all be dangerous substances.
Dangerous substances include:
- a substance or mixture which meets the criteria for classification as hazardous within any physical hazard class laid down in the CLP Regulation whether or not the substance is classified under that regulation.
- any kind of dust that when spread in air to form a cloud (ie form an explosive atmosphere), can explode.
- any other substances, or mixtures of substances, which because of their physical properties and the way in which they are present in the workplace create a risk to safety from fires and explosions, but which may not be covered by CLPR. For example high flashpoint liquids present in the workplace at elevated temperatures.
What does DSEAR require?
DSEAR places duties on employers (and the self-employed, who are considered employers for the purposes of the Regulations) to assess and eliminate or reduce risks from dangerous substances. Complying with DSEAR involves:
1. Assessing risks
Before work is carried out, employers must assess the risks that may be caused by dangerous substances (DSEAR risk assessment). This should be an identification and careful examination of:
- the dangerous substances in the workplace
- the work activities involving those substances
- the ways in which those substances and work activities could harm people
The purpose is to help employers to decide what they need to do to eliminate or reduce the risks from dangerous substances.
If there is no risk to safety, or the risk is trivial, no further action is needed. If there are risks then employers must consider what else needs to be done to comply fully with the requirements of DSEAR.
If an employer has five or more employees, the employer must record the significant findings of the risk assessment.
2. Preventing or controlling risks
Employers must put control measures in place to eliminate risks from dangerous substances, or reduce them as far as is reasonably practicable. Where it is not possible to eliminate the risk completely employers must take measures to control risks and reduce the severity (mitigate) the effects of any harmful event. You can learn about applying the Hierarchy of Control here.
The best solution is to eliminate the risk completely by replacing the dangerous substance with another substance, or using a different work process. This is called substitution in the Regulations.
In practice this may be difficult to achieve – but it may be possible to reduce the risk by using a less dangerous substance. For example, replacing a low flashpoint liquid with a high flashpoint one. In other situations it may not be possible to replace the dangerous substance at all. For example, it would not be practical to replace petrol with another substance at a filling station.
3. Control measures
Where the risk cannot be eliminated, DSEAR requires control measures to be applied in the following priority order:
- reduce the quantity of dangerous substances to a minimum
- avoid or minimise releases of dangerous substances
- control releases of dangerous substances at source
- prevent the formation of a dangerous atmosphere
- collect, contain and remove any releases to a safe place (for example, through ventilation)
- avoid ignition sources;
- avoid adverse conditions (for example, exceeding the limits of temperature or control settings) that could lead to danger
- keep incompatible substances apart
These control measures should be consistent with the risk assessment and appropriate to the nature of the activity or operation.
It’s important to find the balance between risk & benefit for each control you implement.
In addition to control measures, DSEAR requires employers to put mitigation measures in place. These measures should be consistent with the risk assessment and appropriate to the nature of the activity or operation and include:
- reducing the number of employees exposed to the risk
- providing plant that is explosion resistant
- providing plant that is corrosion resistant
- providing explosion suppression or relief
- taking measures to mitigate the spread of fires or explosions
- providing suitable PPE
5. Preparing emergency plans and procedures
Arrangements must be made to deal with emergencies. These plans and procedures should cover safety drills and suitable communication and warning systems and should be in proportion to the risks.
If an emergency occurs, workers tasked with carrying out repairs or other necessary work must be provided with the appropriate equipment to allow them to carry out this work safely.
Of course, they should be trained adequately to carry out their duties.
The information in the emergency plans and procedures must be made available to the emergency services to allow them to develop their own plans if necessary.
6. Providing information, instruction and training
- the dangerous substances present in the workplace and the risks they present including access to any relevant safety data sheets & other available information
- the findings of the risk assessment and the control measures put in place as a result (including their purpose and how to follow and use them)
- emergency procedures
Information, instruction and training need only be provided to other people (non-employees) where it is required to ensure their safety. It should be in proportion to the level and type of risk.
The contents of pipes, containers, etc. must be identifiable to alert employees and others to the presence of dangerous substances. If the contents have already been identified in order to meet the requirements of other law, this does not need to be done again under DSEAR.