Aug 04, 2023
Dec 14, 2021
The Dangerous Substances and Explosive Atmosphere Regulations 2002 , or DSEAR for short, were brought into force to require employers to review all potential risks to people (employees and others) whose safety may be at risk of fires and explosions caused by dangerous substances in the workplace.
Under the legislation, the term dangerous substance is interpreted as:
The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 made it a legal requirement for employers to effectively manage workplace risks to humans: DSEAR made such rules apply directly to dangerous substances.
By their very nature as dangerous substances, they should be treated with severe caution as the danger posed by fire or explosion can have catastrophic effects, causing death or a severe depletion to a person’s quality of life.
The HSE rules oblige employers to cover:
The purpose of a DSEAR assessment is to ensure that the working environment is as safe as reasonably practicable, to avoid harm to workers and other relevant people (e.g. members of the public or contactors) caused by dangerous substances.
The DSEAR was introduced into UK law as an implementation of the EU’s ATEX Directives, to reduce the risk of serious injury or death caused by dangerous substances igniting and potentially exploding such as sawdust and hydrogen gas. On leaving the EU the UK has retained these requirements in UK regulations.
In 2015, amendments to DSEAR meant that it also covers hazards caused by gases under pressure, as well as substances that are corrosive to metals. The amendments were made to bring the regulation in line with the directly effective EU Chemical Agents Directive, which detailed that any such risks must be eliminated or reduced as far as reasonably practicable.
DSEAR applies to all places of work where dangerous substances may be present, produced and/or used.
Here are several examples covered under DSEAR:
Employers have duties to assess and eliminate/minimise risks from dangerous substances. To ensure that your workplace is DSEAR compliant you must:
To be DSEAR compliant, you must first conduct a DSEAR Risk Assessment on the workplace risks that may be caused by dangerous substances, involving the identification and examination of:
The Risk Assessment is there to assist employers in planning precisely what is required to minimise the risk from the dangerous substances or eliminate them entirely.
If a workplace is found to have no risks or merely trivial risks, no further action is needed to be taken. However, if there is the potential for significant risk, the next steps are required to be fully compliant with DSEAR.
Where a workplace has five or more employees, the employer must record all major findings of the risk assessment. The format of the records is not fixed but the content is determined by sources of best practice including the DSEAR ACOP and BS EN 60079-10-1:2021 Explosive atmospheres – Part 10-1: Classification of areas – Explosive gas atmospheres.
Should the employer discover any major risks of harm, advisable control measures must be put in place to minimise the risks from dangerous substances or eliminate them where possible. Where it is not possible to eliminate risks, careful management and control of the risks is advisable, as well as reducing the severity of any harmful event.
The regulations advise that substitution – a replacement of the dangerous substance – is an ideal method to eliminate the risk, where possible, though it may be difficult to implement.
There will be circumstances where replacement or substitution of dangerous substances is not practicable, the DSEAR regulations stipulate control methodology set out in an order of priority:
DSEAR also advises employers to implement mitigation measures. Each measure needs to be consistent with the prior risk assessment and appropriate to the work involved, including:
All employees should be trained and briefed with the correct information as to behaviour and procedure related to an incident or emergency, as well as appropriate equipment to carry out emergency work safely.
Employee training and instructions must include:
Training – including all relevant information and instructions – must be distributed to all employees wherever it is required to increase the likelihood of employee safety: the information and training distributed needs to be proportionate to the level of risk.
Although DSEAR was introduced to UK law to implement ATEX, employers must also follow ATEX-specific requirements. There is an interrelation between DSEAR and ATEX implemented by the Equipment and Protective Systems Intended for Use in Potentially Explosive Atmospheres Regulations 1996. This regulation stipulates certain requirements and certifications for products designed for use within explosive environments that could not be removed or avoided.
The health and safety executive (HSE) have stipulated that a “competent” person must carry out a DSEAR risk assessment. There is no set definition of competence nor official/mandatory license required to practice as a competent person in DSEAR. The depth of competence shall be proportionate the risk and complexity of the application. You should ensure your competent person has a thorough knowledge and relevant experience to the application. This is particularly important where the consequences may affect many people or members of the public.
If you wish to remove the headache of HSE compliance and assessment, contact the experts at Spiers, who can conduct all workplace DSEAR assessments and direct the development of subsequent process and internal protective measures.
DSEAR is a legal requirement obliging employers to assess workplace risks and risks of explosions with causation of dangerous substances within the workplace. DSEAR also covers the risks caused by gasses under pressure and substances that are corrosive to metal, as of June 2015.
DSEAR is a UK law that was introduced as an implementation of the European Union’s ATEX regulations.
A DSEAR zone is specified as any place where an explosive atmosphere can occur that may require precautions to be implemented to ensure the safety of workers.
HSE have specified that a DSEAR risk assessment must be carried out by a competent person: a person with good knowledge of DSEAR and experience in high-risk industries is advisable. Spiers, with over two decades of industry experience can take care of this for you.