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It’s now almost 15 years since the Dangerous Substances and Explosive Atmospheres Regulations were first introduced and yet, worryingly, many businesses are still falling short of the requirements.

DSEAR sets out the legal (minimum) requirements for protection of workers and members of the public potentially at risk from activities involving storage or handling of dangerous substances.

The regulations cover all substances that could cause a safety risk from fire, explosion or release of energy if not properly managed and controlled, which includes substances found in many workplaces such as solvents, paints and flammable gases; dusts from sanding, machining, sawing or foodstuffs; pressurised gases; and substances corrosive to metal.

Simply put, duty holders must ensure that:

  • they know what dangerous substances they have in their workplace;
  • they have assessed the risks to health and safety from their activities;
  • measures are in place to eliminate or control the risks;
  • areas where explosive atmospheres may be present (hazardous areas) have been identified and classified;
  • equipment in hazardous areas is correctly specified and regularly inspected;
  • controls are in place to prevent ignition sources from becoming active and effective in hazardous areas;
  • controls and plans are in place to reduce the effects of any accidents or incidents that may arise;
  • employees and those working with dangerous substances are given appropriate information, instruction, training and supervision; and
  • procedures are in place for professional management of change, including changes to plant, processes, methods of operation, and people.

But despite the abundance of available guidance and the passage of time, many are failing to recognise the risks and put suitable measures in place.

Common criticisms have come from a lack of understanding of the regulations; failure to comply with codes, standards and good practice guidance; failure to maintain engineering and procedural controls; and failure to integrate DSEAR into wider Process Safety Management Systems.

For more guidance on compliance with DSEAR, and for details on the specific areas in which we can help, please click here.

We also regularly run in-house and open training events focussing on practical application of standards and guidance for compliance with DSEAR. Click here for more information on these.