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DSEAR – Dangerous Substances

Barristers at St Pauls Chambers are able to offer professional legal advice in all aspects of environmental law, including matters concerning dangerous substances.

The Dangerous Substances and Explosive Atmospheres Regulations 2002 (DSEAR)

Dangerous substances which are not handled carefully can put peoples’ safety at risk from fire and explosion. DSEAR therefore places duties upon employers and the self-employed to protect people from risks to their safety from such hazards. This includes members of the public who may be put at risk by activities on nearby work premises. Our team of barristers have specialist knowledge of the duties owed by handlers of dangerous substances. We are able to offer both oral and written advice on how handlers can remain compliant with the regulations in force.

Obligations Imposed by the Regulations

The operators of those sites dealing with dangerous substances in the threshold quantities specified in the Regulations have obligations in relation to:

  • The information and notifications they provide;
  • The risk assessments they perform.

Information and Notification
The operator of a business or site which deals with dangerous substances has to provide notification of the site to both the Health and Safety Executive and the Environment Agency before construction of the site commences.

Information containing the following also has to be provided:

  • Information about the dangerous substance present;
  • The activity/proposed activity of the site;
  • Details of the environment surrounding the site;
  • Details of any likely changes to the substance/quantities of it that will be used in the near future, or changes to the environment in the near future that may affect the substance.

Risk Assessment
The operator of the site must undertake a thorough risk assessment in order to understand the causes of particular accidents associated with the dangerous substance, and therefore try to prevent those accidents occurring. When undertaking a risk assessment the following factors should be taken into account:

  • Possible causes of a major accident;
  • Potential consequences of a major accident;
  • Should a major accident occur, what steps would be necessary to minimise the effects on the surrounding environment and the people who live there.

The Substances Considered Dangerous

Schedule 1 of the Regulations names the substances which are considered dangerous. Examples are as follows:

  • Ammonium nitrate
  • Oxygen
  • Hydrogen
  • Formaldehyde
  • Halogens
  • Petroleum products

Categories to which named substances fall into are:

  • Toxic
  • Oxidising
  • Explosive
  • Flammable
  • Dangerous for the environment
  • Carcinogens



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