Sustainable compliance after DSEAR

01 November 2006

The Dangerous Substances and Explosive Atmospheres Regulations (DSEAR) have been around for several years, and since July 2006 have come into full force within the UK.

However, now that compliance has been achieved, what next? What is required in order to ensure sustained compliance?

Peter Murdoch, DSEAR compliance manager at Sira, advises what industry can do to ¡¥live¡¦ with DSEAR.

The Requirements of DSEAR

The principal requirements of DSEAR are that risk from dangerous substances are assessed and eliminated or reduced. This is facilitated by the following checklist:

„h Risk assessments are in place and include fire and explosion risks
„h Hazardous area classification report and drawings are up to date
„h Instrument and electrical installations are inspected and maintained
„h Non-electrical equipment risk assessments have been developed
„h Permit to Work system is in place
„h Portable ignition sources are controlled
„h Static electricity is controlled
„h Warning signs are adequate
„h Information is provided to contractors
„h Appropriate training is provided
„h Other considerations specific to your business

Is your site compliant?

The first point that must be noted before any strategy for sustained compliance can be implemented is whether your site is fully compliant in the first place. That is to say, have you fulfilled all the requirements of DSEAR before the deadline passed? Many organisations have taken the ¡§transition period¡¨ of compliance (July 2003 ¡VJuly 2006) to mean that nothing needs to be done until now.

Secondly, how can you be sure that you have interpreted the requirements correctly, and fulfilled them effectively? (Have you covered all risks in your ignition hazard assessments? Have you adopted the correct approach to inspection of equipment? Have you provided staff with relevant training in hazardous area issues?)

One way to look at this is that DSEAR requires a team approach to compliance, drawing on the skills of staff with management and engineering backgrounds, and ultimately, it is the team that must be happy with the approach and results of your compliance strategy.
Once this is agreed and achieved, a strategy for sustained compliance can be implemented, to enable you to ¡¥live¡¦ with DSEAR. Sira believes that this can be achieved by putting emphasis on the maintenance of the guidelines, processes and systems you have recently put in place.

Keeping maintenance records up to date, reviewing risk assessments and checking the area classification of your site are all things that can be undertaken to ensure sustained compliance.

A continuous defined training programme is also
vital to ensure that your staff are kept up to date with legislative requirements.

The Risks Involved in Doing Nothing

The final report concerning the Buncefield incident is yet to be published, and dependent upon the findings, may result in organisations spending unplanned expenditure to put in place strategies that attempt to improve health and safety.

A far better approach is for industry to take a step back and review what they have put in place. By being responsive to any issues highlighted, and adopting a proactive approach to dealing with these problems, organisations can achieve sustained compliance.

The worst thing that could happen would be for industry to do nothing, and assume that what has been put in place will stand the test of time.

But by implementing strategies that actively identify and resolve problem areas, organisations can successfully plan for safety and demonstrate continued commitment to continued compliance.

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