Dangerous Substances and Explosive Atmospheres Regulations (DSEAR)

1. Purpose

1.1 Oxford Brookes University recognises its duties under the primary legislation applying to the control of substances that can cause fires and explosions in the workplace which is the Dangerous Substances and Explosive Atmospheres Regulations 2002 (DSEAR). DSEAR requires the University to assess the risks of fires and explosions that may be caused by dangerous substances and to then eliminate or reduce the risk. It 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.

2. Scope

2.1 This procedure applies to all aspects of work and learning undertaken for Oxford Brookes University.

2.2 The following are potential activities at Oxford Brookes University covered by DSEAR:

  • Use of flammable gases, such as acetylene, for welding or experimenting with hydrogen projects.
  • ‘Hot work’ on tanks and drums that have contained a flammable substance.
  • Work that could release flammable substances such as methane in labs.
  • Flammable solvent use in laboratories.
  • Storage and handling of flammable goods or wastes and use of gases under pressure.
  • Filling, storing and handling aerosols with flammable propellants such as LPG.
  • Transporting flammable substances in containers around campus.
  • Deliveries from fuel tankers and storage of fuel types.
  • Chemical processing involving gasses, liquids or vapours.
  • Storage and handling and use of substances corrosive to metal.
  • Workshop dusts when suspended in air, involving the creation, impact, handling or storing of the dusts (e.g. plastic, wood, food and some metal dusts).

3. Definitions

3.1 A ‘Dangerous Substance’ is defined as:

  1. A substance or preparation which is explosive, oxidising, extremely flammable, highly flammable or flammable, whether or not that substance or preparation is classified under the CHIP Regulations.
  2. A substance or preparation which because of its physico-chemical or chemical properties and the way it is used or is present at the workplace creates a risk, not being a substance or preparation falling within subparagraph (a) above; or
  3. Any dust, whether in the form of solid particles or fibrous materials or otherwise, which can form an explosive mixture with air or an explosive atmosphere, not being a substance or preparation falling within subparagraph (a) or (b) above

3.2 An ‘Explosive Atmosphere’ exists when a mixture, under atmospheric conditions, of air and one or more dangerous substances in the form of gases, vapours, mists or dusts in which, after ignition has occurred, combustion spreads to the entire unburned mixture.

4. Responsibilities

4.1 Pro Vice-Chancellor/Deans and Directors of Services are responsible for ensuring that:

  • Processes are in place for risk assessments of all hazards arising out of operations/activities to be undertaken by staff with the appropriate training.
  • Any required risk control measures and emergency arrangements are implemented.

4.2 University Health and Safety Department are responsible for:

  • Monitoring compliance with this procedure.
  • Liaising with relevant regulators as required such as  the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and local Fire and Rescue Services.

4.3 Managers (including Team supervisors, Contract and Compliance Managers in ECS) are responsible for ensuring identification of the following:

  • The types of dangerous substances that may be present or that may become dangerous as a result of the work activity.
  • The fire and explosion hazards arising from the proposed work.
  • The necessary control and mitigation measures to enable the work to be carried out safely.
  • The appropriate system of work to ensure that the control and mitigation measures essential for safety are properly understood and implemented.
  • The training requirements of their staff who undertake or are likely to undertake work covered by the DSEAR regulations. Further advice can be sought from the H&S department.

5. Procedure

5.1 The responsible person must assess the activity or process that may be caused by a dangerous substance. The assessment must identify the dangerous substances to be used or produced and how they and the activities cause harm.

5.2 Where a general risk assessment identifies there is a residual risk associated with the dangerous substance or explosive atmosphere then a more detailed DSEAR assessment must be undertaken. The ‘DSEAR Initial Assessment Form’ should be completed and forwarded to the H&S department for review. Further advice can be sought from the H&S Department.

5.3 The responsible person must put control measures in place to eliminate risks from dangerous substances or reduce them as far as is reasonably practicable. Examples of DSEAR controls include:

  • Reducing the quantity of dangerous substances to a minimum.
  • Avoiding or minimising releases of dangerous substances.
  • Control releases of dangerous substances at the source.
  • Prevent the formation of a dangerous atmosphere.
  • Collect, contain and remove any releases to a safe place e.g. ventilation.
  • Avoiding ignition sources.
  • Avoiding adverse conditions e.g. exceeding the limits of temperature or control settings.
  • Keeping incompatible substances apart.

5.4 DSEAR requires additional mitigation measures should be considered when activities are undertaken.  These should be consistent with the risk assessment and appropriate to the nature of the activity.  These can include:

  • Reducing the number of employees/students exposed to the risk.
  • Providing plant that is explosion and corrosion resistant.
  • Providing explosion suppression or explosion relief equipment.
  • Taking measures to control or minimise the spread of fires or explosions.
  • Providing suitable PPE for employees, students and visitors.

Emergency Plans

5.5 The responsible person will need to ensure appropriate arrangements are made to deal with emergencies associated with the substance/activity.  These plans and procedures should cover safety drills, suitable communication, warning systems and be in proportion to the risks.  If an emergency occurs, those 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.

5.6 The information in the emergency plans must be made available to the emergency services to allow them to develop their plans if necessary.

Providing information and Instruction

5.7 Employees, students and visitors must be provided with relevant information and instructions to include:

  • The dangerous substances present in the workplace and the risks they present including access to any relevant safety data sheets and information on any other legislation that applies to the dangerous substance.
  • 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.

6. Training

6.1 Risk assessments shall only be completed by staff/research students who have undergone appropriate training. Only staff trained on the risk assessment procedure are able to authorise risk assessments.

6.2 Guidance on how to complete a risk assessment can be found in Risk Assessment Guidance (OBUHSN-36)

6.3 Completion of the DSEAR Initial Assessment Form shall be undertaken by staff who have also undertaken a DSEAR Awareness course.

7. Document management and retention

7.1 The DSEAR Assessment should be reviewed every 2 years or more frequently should significant changes to equipment or processes occur.

8. Review

8.1 This procedure will be reviewed every three years or sooner if it is evident that changes are required.

9. References and links