On 1st June 2015, the new Control of Major Accident Hazards (COMAH) regulations will come into force in the UK. This latest update to the regulations has some important changes on the classification of dangerous substances, as well as the information that must be provided to the public in respect of these substances.

This update to COMAH is particularly important to companies working in the surface engineering sector using substances that are very toxic or very dangerous to the environment, such as dichromates, chromium trioxide and hexavalent chromium used during plating processes. The HSE advises companies to review their chemical inventories to check whether the regulations apply to them.

If you do stock significant quantities of these hazardous substances, then you must take all essential steps to prevent any major accident. In the case of an accident, you must ensure that all necessary measures are put in place to limit the consequences to human health and the environment. You must also report any major incidents to the Competent Authority (CA).

Guidance on COMAH Regulations

The CA has issued surface engineering sector specific guidance on COMAH regulations. It identifies possible major accident hazard (MAH) scenarios relating to human health and the environment, as well as some preventative and control measures which can be put in place. It does not, however, cover all scenarios and it is advisable for companies to carry out their own risk assessments to identify those MAH unique to them.

The guidance document produced by the CA is available to download from the HSE website at http://www.hse.gov.uk/comah/index.htm where you will also find a wealth of information relating to the regulations.

If you are unsure whether the COMAH regulations apply to your company or would like to speak to someone on how these regulations affect you, contact the Surface Engineering Association at info@sea.org.uk