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Legislative Requirements

Everyone at work has a legal right to be protected from workplace related risks. Legislation is written to ultimately protect workers and keep people safe at work. The law also gives the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and Local Authority inspectors the authority to issue notices, halt dangerous work, prosecution, fines and even imprisonment.

These are illustrated as broad general duties for employers, the self-employed and employees using the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974. Subsidiary regulations such as those dealing with the management of health and safety, confined space, and specific health and safety management issues provide more detail.

While most modern health and safety law applies 'across-the-board', there are also additional regulations covering industry sectors such as construction, agriculture, railways, mines and quarries and major hazard and nuclear installations.

Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 [show]

In the United Kingdom, under domestic law (the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974) employers are responsible for ensuring the safety of their employees and others. This responsibility is reinforced by regulations such as:

Confined Space Regulations 1997

By order of the HSE, the Confined Spaces Regulation 1997, calls for a safe system of work, when working in confined spaces is unavoidable.

What is the definition of a 'confined space'?

A confined space is a place that is substantially (but not always entirely) enclosed and where there is a risk of death or serious injury from hazardous substances (e.g. lack of oxygen).

Very often, injuries and deaths occur as a result of work being carried out such as welding, painting, flame cutting, use of chemicals.

Places can also become confined spaces during construction work, fabrication or modification.

Examples include:

  • chambers
  • tanks
  • silos
  • vats
  • pits
  • trenches
  • sewers
  • drains
  • flues
  • ductwork
  • poorly ventilated rooms

What are the risks of working in confined spaces?

Every year, a number of people are killed and others seriously injured working in confined spaces across a wide range of industries in the UK, from those involving complex plant to simple storage vessels.

Those killed include not only people working in confined spaces but those who try to rescue them without proper training and equipment.

Dangers can arise in confined spaces because of:

  • lack of oxygen
  • poisonous gas, fume or vapour
  • liquids and solids suddenly filling the confined space, or releasing gases into it when disturbed
  • explosions and fire
  • residues left behind which can give off gas, fume or vapour
  • dust
  • hot working conditions
The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations, 1999 [show]

These Regulations (usually called the Management Regulations) generally make more explicit what employers are required to do to manage health and safety under the Health and Safety at Work Act.

Like the Act, they apply to every work activity. Please note that failure to comply with these regulations is a criminal offence.

They set out how health and safety should be managed in workplaces, with the emphasis on risk assessment.

These regulations require that a suitable and sufficient assessment of the risks for all work activities is carried out for the purpose of deciding what measures are necessary for safety.

For work in confined spaces, this means identifying the hazards present, assessing the risks and determining what precautions to take.

In most cases the assessment will include consideration of:

  • the task
  • the working environment
  • working materials and tools
  • the suitability of those carrying out the task
  • arrangements for emergency rescue

You may need to appoint competent people to help manage the risks and ensure that employees are adequately trained and instructed.

You may be the best person to do this, or you may need to train someone else to manage risks or engage the services of a competent person for additional help.

If your assessment identifies risks of serious injury from work in confined spaces, such as the dangers highlighted above, the Confined Spaces Regulations 1997 apply.

Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 2002 [show]

What is Control of Substances Hazardous to Health (COSHH)?

The occupational use of nanomaterials is regulated under the COSHH is the law that requires employers to control substances that are hazardous to health. You can prevent or reduce workers' exposure to hazardous substances by:

  • finding out what the health hazards are;
  • deciding how to prevent harm to health (risk assessment);
  • providing control measures to reduce harm to health;
  • making sure they are used;
  • keeping all control measures in good working order;
  • providing information, instruction and training for employees and others;
  • providing monitoring and health surveillance in appropriate cases;
  • planning for emergencies.

Most businesses use substances, or products that are mixtures of substances. Some processes create substances. These could cause harm to employees, contractors and other people.

Sometimes substances are easily recognised as harmful. As a new technology, the risks of exposure associated with nanomaterials are not currently fully understood. Whilst knowledge gaps exist, HSE recommends a precautionary approach to risk management with control strategies aiming to reduce exposure as much as possible.

COSHH covers substances that are hazardous to health. Substances can take many forms and include:

  • chemicals
  • products containing chemicals
  • fumes
  • dusts
  • vapours
  • mists
  • nanotechnology
  • gases and asphyxiating gases
  • biological agents (germs). If the packaging has any of the hazard symbols then it is classed as a hazardous substance
  • germs that cause diseases such as leptospirosis or legionnaires disease and germs used in laboratories.

EH40

COSHH 2002 imposes requirements by reference to the EH40 guidelines of workplace exposure limits (WELs). These are legally binding as they’ve been approved by the Health and Safety Executive.

These Regulations require employers to prevent or control exposure to hazardous substances. The absence of a substance from the list of WELs does not indicate that it is safe. For these substances, exposure should be controlled to a level to which nearly all the working population could be exposed, day after day at work, without any adverse effects on health.

Personal Protective Equipment at Work Regulations 1992 [show]

Why is Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) important?

Making the workplace safe includes providing instructions, procedures, training and supervision to encourage people to work safely and responsibly.

Even where engineering controls and safe systems of work have been applied, some hazards might remain. These include injuries to:

  • the lungs, e.g. from breathing in contaminated air
  • the head and feet, e.g. from falling materials
  • the eyes, e.g. from flying particles or splashes of corrosive liquids
  • the skin, e.g. from contact with corrosive materials
  • the body, e.g. from extremes of heat or cold

PPE is needed in these cases to reduce the risk.

What do I have to do?

  • PPE is the last line of defence and should be used as a last resort.
  • If PPE is still needed after implementing other controls (and there will be circumstances when it is, e.g. head protection on most construction sites), you must provide this for your employees free of charge
  • You must choose the equipment carefully (see selection details below) and ensure employees are trained to use it properly, and know how to detect and report any faults

PPE Selection and use

You should ask yourself the following questions:

  • Who is exposed and to what?
  • How long are they exposed for?
  • How much are they exposed to?

When selecting and using PPE:

  • Choose products which are CE marked in accordance with the Personal Protective Equipment Regulations 2002 – suppliers can advise you
  • Choose equipment that suits the user – consider the size, fit and weight of the PPE. If the users help choose it, they will be more likely to use it
  • If more than one item of PPE is worn at the same time, make sure they can be used together, e.g. wearing safety glasses may disturb the seal of a respirator, causing air leaks
  • Instruct and train people how to use it, e.g. train people to remove gloves without contaminating their skin. Tell them why it is needed, when to use it and what its limitations are

Other advice on PPE

  • Never allow exemptions from wearing PPE for those jobs that ‘only take a few minutes'
  • Check with your supplier on what PPE is appropriate – explain the job to them
  • If in doubt, seek further advice from a specialist adviser
The Dangerous Substances and Explosive Atmospheres Regulations 2002 [show]

What is DSEAR?

DSEAR stands for the Dangerous Substances and Explosive Atmospheres Regulations 2002.

Dangerous substances can put peoples' safety at risk from fire, explosion and corrosion of metal. DSEAR puts duties on employers and the self-employed to protect people from these risks to their safety in the workplace, and to members of the public who may be put at risk by work activity.

What are dangerous substances?

Dangerous substances are any substances used or present at work that could, if not properly controlled, cause harm to people as a result of a fire or explosion or corrosion of metal. They can be found in nearly all workplaces and include such things as solvents, paints, varnishes, flammable gases, such as liquid petroleum gas (LPG), dusts from machining and sanding operations, dusts from foodstuffs, pressurised gases and substances corrosive to metal.

What does DSEAR require?

Employers must:

  • find out what dangerous substances are in their workplace and what the risks are
  • put control measures in place to either remove those risks or, where this is not possible, control them
  • put controls in place to reduce the effects of any incidents involving dangerous substances
  • prepare plans and procedures to deal with accidents, incidents and emergencies involving dangerous substances
  • make sure employees are properly informed about and trained to control or deal with the risks from the dangerous substances
  • identify and classify areas of the workplace where explosive atmospheres may occur and avoid ignition sources (from unprotected equipment, for example) in those areas

Enforcement

Health and Safety Executive inspectors and Local Authority enforcement officers have wide-ranging powers to: enter premises; take samples and measurements; inspect documents; require persons to answer questions; and issue notices (prohibition notices, deferred prohibition notices and improvement notices).

They also have powers to prosecute. Those found guilty in a magistrate's court of health and safety offences can face fines of up to £20,000 and/or up to 12 months' imprisonment. Conviction in a Crown Court can result in an unlimited fine and/or a period of imprisonment of up to two years. [HSWA]

Industrial Emissions Directive [show]

The objective of IED

The ultimate objectives of Industrial Emissions Directive (IED) are for the protection of human health and the environment by controlling emissions from industrial activities.

Major Provisions

The major provisions of IED include: permitting of installations, the setting and updating of Emission Limit Values (ELVs) to be based on Best Available Techniques (BAT), the establishment of BAT reference documents (BREFs) and the formulation of BAT conclusions that summarise the BREFs and the basis for compliance.

What does the IED apply to?

IED applies to industries including combustion and gasification. The IED applies to combustion installations with a combined rated thermal input of greater than 50MW.

ELVs are defined for SO2, NOx and dust for solid and liquid fuel fired plant. For gas fired plant, ELVs are defined for CO. For gas turbines ELVs are specified for NOx & CO only.

For gas fired plant with a rated thermal output of greater than 100MW, SO2, NOx and dust is required to be monitored on a continuous basis.

O2, temperature and water vapour must also be measured in order to correct the emissions to the required reporting conditions.

EN14181 [show]

What is EN14181?

The major standard is EN14181. EN14181 describes the quality assurance procedures required to ensure continuous emission monitoring systems (CEMS) measure emissions to air, are capable of meeting the uncertainty requirements on measured values required by the IED.

EN14181 defines three different Quality Assurance Levels (QAL1, QAL2, and QAL3) to achieve this objective. These QALs cover the suitability of a CEM for its measuring task (e.g. before or during the purchase of a CEM), the validation of the CEM following its installation, and the control of the CEM during its ongoing operation on an industrial plant.

Where do responsibilities lie in terms of EN14181?

(QAL 1) to demonstrate that the CEM is suitable for the intended purpose before installation, by meeting required performance standards and the uncertainty budgets specified in the EU directives. Equipment supplier responsibility

In combustion plants, the substantial reduction in ELVs for existing power plant may require replacement of the CEMS if they are unsuitable for measuring at low concentrations of less than 2.5*daily ELV.

(QAL 2) to calibrate the CEM and determine the variability of the measured values obtained by it; so as to demonstrate the suitability of the CEM for its application, following installation. End user responsibility working with the equipment supplier

QAL2 is normally required every 5 years or following a significant change to the process or CEMS.

(QAL 3) to maintain and demonstrate the required quality of the measurement results during the normal operation of the CEM. End user responsibility

QAL3 is intended to provide an audited check on ongoing performance by conducting regular zero and span checks to ensure the monitors are consistent with those determined during QAL 1 by comparing drift.

The IED requires annual checking of CEMS using manual reference methods - the Annual Surveillance Test (AST).

Adequate measures to improve the reliability of the CEMS will be imposed should more than 3 hours of data be lost over 10 calendar days due to malfunction or lack of maintenance.

Overall, the EN 14181 standard has put more responsibility on the operator to continually prove that their installed CEMS meets the relevant performance standards

Failure to comply with the requirements of EN 14181 may well result in a breach of operating permits.

BS EN12021 [show]

The quality of compressed air used in breathing apparatus is specified in the European Standard EN12021:2014 "Respiratory protective devices – Compressed Air for breathing apparatus."

It is vital that the quality of compressed air used in respiratory applications is in accordance with the required standards to prevent risk to human health and corporate reputation.

The standard specifies that in all circumstances all contaminants shall be kept to levels below the national occupational exposure limits as defined by the Health and Safety Executive (EH40)

The standard applies to self-contained compressed air breathing apparatus used above and under water (SCUBA). It also applies to systems supplying breathing air via an airline, escape devices and systems supplying synthetic air.

Air used in breathing air supplies is also required to have a dewpoint low enough to prevent condensation and freezing. When the breathing air is used or stored in an area where the ambient temperature is known the pressure dewpoint has to be at least 5 Deg C below the envisaged lowest temperature. Generally in cases where the lowest temperature cannot be predicted the pressure dewpoint is specified not to exceed -11 Deg C.

Requirements are specified in the standard for permissible levels of oxygen, lubricants, odour, taste, carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide and water content in compressed breathing air.

BS EN 12021 states that breathing air should not contain any contaminants at a concentration which can cause toxic or harmful effects and in any event contaminants should be as low as possible and no greater than:-

Substance

Allowable limit

Oxygen

21% ± 1% by volume

Carbon Monoxide

As low as possible but not more than 15 ppm

Carbon Dioxide

Not more than 500 ppm

Oil (droplets or mist)

Not more than 0.5 mg/m3

Odour & Taste

Without significant odour or taste

Water

No free liquid water. Dew point to be >5 oC below the likely lowest temperature. Where conditions are not know the pressure dew point shall not exceed -11oC.

F-Gas [show]

Why is the F Gas Regulation Important?

The F-Gas regulation aims to reduce the contribution of the higher-GWP gases.

Requirements of the F gas regulation include phasing out HFCs steadily by reducing quotas and product bans.

It impacts anyone who:

  • Manufactures, uses or services equipment that contains F gases, like refrigeration and air conditioning systems, solvents or aerosols
  • Produces or wholesales F gas
  • Imports or exports F gas, or equipment containing F gas, to or from the EU

Refrigeration and air conditioning equipment requires mandatory documented leak checks according to how much damage could be caused to the atmosphere if the whole charge leaked.

The frequency of the test inspections is based on the GWP of the refrigerant multiplied by the estimated volume contained in each individual system – this gives the CO2e figure.

If the system contains between:

  • 5 and 50 tonnes CO2e it requires one inspection per year.
  • 50 to 500 tonnes CO2e require inspection every six months.
  • Greater than 500 tonnes CO2e require quarterly inspections.

The leak checking frequency can be halved if permanent gas leak detection systems are installed. Fixed refrigerant leak detection systems are mandatory for system charges of 500 tonnes CO2 equivalent and above.

How often does a system need leak checking?

  • R410A (2088 GWP) more than 2.39kg once a year, 23.9kg twice, more than 239kg four times
  • R407C (1774 GWP) more than 2.81kg once a year, 28.1kg twice, more than 281kg four times
  • R404A (3922 GWP) more than 1.27kg once a year, 12.7kg twice, more than 127kg four times
  • R134a (1430 GWP) more than 3.49kg once a year, 34.9kg twice, more than 349kg four times

For other refrigerants it is 5000 divided by its GWP to get the first inspections visit weight, then just move the decimal place one to the right to get the rest!

For more details about the latest F Gas Regulation Requirements click here.