The Dangerous Substances & Explosive Atmosphere Regulations 2002

Dangerous Substances & Explosive Atmosphere (DSEAR) Regulations

What does DSEAR mean?

DSEAR is the Dangerous Substances and Explosive Atmospheres Regulations 2002.

Dangerous substances may put peoples’ safety at risk as mishandling can result in fire and explosion. The DSEAR regulations place duties/ responsibilities on to employers and the self-employed with the aim of protecting people from risks to their safety in the workplace as a result of handling a Dangerous Substance. These regulations also cover members of the public who may be put at risk by the work activity taking place.

Why was DSEAR put into place?

DSEAR came into force following requirements from two European Directives, these are:-

  • The Chemical Agents Directive (98/24/EC) and the
  • Explosive Atmospheres Directive (99/92/EC).

The DSEAR regulations also replaced a number of older regulations dealing with flammable substances and their impact on safety.

What is deemed as a Dangerous Substance and therefore affected by the DSEAR regulation?

The DSEAR Regulations use the term “substance” or “preparations” which are in effect a mixture of substances.

The substances/ preparations that are covered by the DSEAR Regulations are those that are used and or are present at work that could, if not properly controlled, cause harm to people as a result of a fire, explosion or similar event*

* a similar event could be a runaway exothermic reaction involving chemicals or the decomposition of unstable substances such as peroxides.

Under the DSEAR Regulations, liquids, gases, vapours and dusts found in many workplaces, can all be classified as dangerous substances.

  • Substances or Preparations that are classified as explosive, oxidising, extremely flammable, highly flammable, or flammable under the current CLP Regulations (Classification, Labelling and Packaging of substances and mixtures Regulations 2015). For example liquid petroleum gas (LPG) is classified as a flammable gas.
  • Dusts that spread in the air thereby form a cloud causing an explosive atmosphere are also covered under the DSEAR Regulations. Within the workplace, these dusts can be created through machining, sanding or from food stuffs.

When does DSEAR apply?

The DSEAR regulations apply in most workplaces where dangerous substances are present. There are however a few exceptions whereby only part of the DSEAR Regulations apply – Example workplaces are listed below:-

  • Ships
  • Medical treatment areas
  • Explosives/chemically unstable substances
  • Mines
  • Quarries
  • Boreholes
  • Offshore installations.

The DSEAR Regulations apply to workplaces where dangerous substances are present, used, or produced.

What do the DSEAR Regulations deem as a “workplace”?

The DSEAR regulations term workplaces as “any premises or parts of premises used for work.” This includes areas such as industrial and commercial premises, land-based and offshore installations, mines and quarries, construction sites, vehicles and vessels, etc. Areas such as the common parts of shared buildings, private roads and paths on industrial estates and road works on public roads are also premises. Houses and other domestic premises are also deemed as premises if people are at work there.

What are the DSEAR Regulations protecting us from?

The result of fires and explosions and similar events can create harmful physical effects such as:-

  • Thermal Radiation (burns)
  • Overpressure Effects (blast injuries)
  • Oxygen Depletion. (asphyxiation) arising from fire or explosion.

All of the above have the potential to cause serious long lasting injury and even death.

What Activities do the DSEAR regulations cover?

Although not exhaustive, the following examples illustrate the type of activities that are covered by the DSEAR Regulations:-

welding use of flammable gases, such as acetylene
handling and storage waste dusts often from a range of manufacturing industries
welding or other ‘hot work’ on tanks and drums that have previously contained flammable material
coalmines or at landfill sites naturally released flammable substances such as methane
storage and display flammable goods, such as paints, lubricants in shops
filling, storing and handling aerosols with flammable propellants such as Liquid Petroleum Gas (LPG)
transportation flammable substances in containers around a workplace
handling and storage of flammable wastes such as fuel oils
storage petrol as a fuel for cars, boats or horticultural machinery
deliveries from road tankers, such as petrol and bulk powders
manufacturing, processing and warehousing Chemical production
lab work Use of flammable solvents
petrochemical industry onshore and offshore

As an Employer; what must I do to comply with DSEAR?

  • Determine what dangerous substances are in their workplace and what the fire/ explosion risks are;
  • Implement control measures to either remove the risks or, where this is not possible, at least control them;
  • Implement controls to reduce the effects of any incidents involving the dangerous substances;
  • Draw up plans and procedures to manage any accidents, incidents and or emergencies involving the dangerous substances;
  • Ensure that employees are properly informed about and trained how to control / deal with the risks from the dangerous substances;
  • Identify and classify areas of your workplace where explosive atmospheres may occur and avoid ignition sources for example from unprotected equipment, in those areas.

Additional guidance and practical application of the DSEAR Regulations can be provided by PM PROjEN. Please click here for more information