The Management and Assessment of Risk.
BCGA's mission is to promote safety in the use, storage, transportation and handling of industrial, food and medical gases. Within BCGA it is fully accepted that the key to successful safety management is the assessment and management of risk. In the past safety management was essentially reactive - an accident occurred, it was investigated thoroughly to establish root cause, and corrective action was implemented to minimise the chance of a recurrence. The introduction in 1992 of the Management of Health & Safety at Work Regulations obliged all organisations to assess risk and try to anticipate what can go wrong, and implement control measures to reduce the risk.
Today it is clear that safety management must focus on prevention - we should not wait for accidents to occur in order to improve. But how can effective risk assessment be carried out?
The Dangerous Substances and Explosive Atmospheres Regulations 2002 (DSEAR), which are concerned with protection against risks from fire, explosion and similar events arising from dangerous substances used or present in the workplace, have been updated. From June 2015 DSEAR also covers gases under pressure and substances that are corrosive to metals. This is to allow for changes in the EU Chemical Agents Directive the physical hazards aspects of which are enacted in Great Britain through DSEAR. They set minimum requirements for the protection of workers from fire and explosion risks related to dangerous substances and potentially explosive atmospheres and from gases under pressure and substances corrosive to metals and require employers to control the risks to the safety of employees and others from these hazards.
Gases that are under pressure (e.g. gas in a cylinder) may present a risk of explosion if not correctly handled in the workplace. Substances that can corrode metals could cause structural damage reducing integrity of structures if not suitably contained. Since June 2015, DSEAR has placed a formal requirement on employers to assess the risks for substances if classified for these properties and put in place suitable control and mitigation measures. The Health & Safety Executive (HSE) anticipated that the practical impact, if any, of these changes will be minimal because the intrinsic hazards of the substances being used, or present, in workplaces is unchanged. The need to carry out a risk assessment and have in place procedures for the safe use of chemicals, not currently covered by DSEAR, is already required by the general requirements of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 and the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999. Therefore, assuming businesses are already complying with these duties, they are unlikely to need to take any additional action.
For further information on DSEAR and its implication for gas cylinders refer to the HSE website. Many helpful documents are available to show how this process can be conducted.
Within any risk assessment, consideration should always be given to optimising human performance and reducing human failures. Human factors influence behaviour at work in a way that could affect health and safety. Organisations need to take a proportionate approach to human factors during their risk assessment based on their hazard and risk profile. BCGA provide guidance in BCGA TIS 44, Human factors.
At a very general level the HSE have provided some documents giving advice on the basic technique of risk assessment. For example, HSE Leaflet INDG 163 outlines a simple process of risk assessment which can be applied to any activity. Further HSE guidance is available from www.hse.gov.uk
More specifically, BCGA has developed some model risk assessments that are relevant to the gases industry.
These and other relevant documents are listed below:
- BCGA GN 3 - Safe cylinder handling and the application of the manual handling operations regulations to gas cylinders.
- BCGA GN 9 - The application of the confined spaces regulations to beverage dispense
- BCGA GN 11 - The management of risk when using gases in enclosed workplaces
- BCGA GN 13 - DSEAR risk assessment guidance for compressed gases
- BCGA GN 41 - Separation distances in the gases industry
- BCGA TIS 15 - Model Risk Assessment for the storage and use of gas cylinders for oxy - fuel applications.
- BCGA TIS 17 - Model Risk Assessment for the manual handling of gas cylinders.
- BCGA TIS 26 - Model Risk Assessment for the transport of gas cylinders.
- BCGA TIS 27 - Risk assessment guidance for the safe use of liquid nitrogen dewars.
- BCGA TIS 44 - Human factors.
HSE DSEAR statement 2015