The ‘general duty’ under COMAH applies to all operators. Regulation 4 of COMAH 1999 now becomes Regulation 5(1) of COMAH 2015 – but with a slight modification.
Thus, COMAH ’99 Regulation 4 which stated that “Every operator shall take all measures necessary to prevent major accidents and limit their consequences to persons and the environment” is superseded by COMAH ’15 Regulation 5(1) which now requires that, “Every operator must take all measures necessary to prevent major accidents and to limit their consequences for human health and the environment.”
COMAH 2015 introduces additional parts to Regulation 5 of COMAH 2015. These parts make specific explicit requirements in connection with the ‘general duty’:
This general duty effectively underpins the COMAH regime requiring operators to take all necessary measures and be able to demonstrate that this is done.
The other COMAH duties all relate back to this principal duty in some way.
The COMAH 2015 Regulations came into force on 1st June 2015. These new regulations supersede the COMAH 1999 Regulations.
Overall the basic principles of the Regulations remain largely the same. The main effects have been to introduce more explicit terminology and requirements, to increase the information that is to be provided to the public and to change how substances are classified.
The change to the way that substances are classified will see the COMAH tier status change for some establishments, whereas some previously non-COMAH sites will be brought into scope of the Regulations.
The following information is a very brief summary of some of the key requirements that COMAH 2015 places on COMAH operators. It is not intended to be comprehensive. Full guidance may be found in L111 (https://www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/books/l111.htm).
Where the establishment safety report is due after 1st June 2016.
The operator must discuss the implication of the CLP classifications on the safety report with the CA. The CA should issue an advice letter which instructs the operator as to how the impact of COMAH 2015 requirements should be determined. The summary proforma should then be completed and sent to the CA.
The operator must update the sections of the safety report that are impacted by COMAH 2015 to the CA by 1st June 2016.
(If the update to the safety report is so substantial that it requires a re-write of the safety report then the Five Year cycle will reset.)
What should operators do to prepare for the safety report updates?
Where the establishment safety report is due between 1st June 2015 and 1st June 2016.
The operator must review and revise their safety report against the previous assessment, intervention outcomes/findings and against the requirements of COMAH 2015. This must be done by the agreed five year due-date.
What should Operators do as a result of the modifications to substances’ classification?
Operators need to reclassify their inventory according to the hazardous substance classifications in CLP. They then need to notify the COMAH CA of the inventory details (plus ancillary information) via the dedicated electronic notification hosted on the HSE website. This must be done by 1st June 2016.
For upper tier establishments safety reports should be reviewed and where necessary updated - see following
What do operators need to do to provide public information?
Lower and Upper Tier Establishments
The operator must provide the (Part 1) information requested by the CA (hosted on the HSE website). Information is related to site activities, dangerous substances, date of last CA visit, action to be taken in an emergency, and how emergency warning will be communicated to the relevant public. The COMAH CA will advise the operator when to submit these data.
Upper Tier Establishments
The operator must provide the information requested by the CA (hosed on the HSE website) ie Part 1 and Part 2 data. Part 2 information is related to: nature of potential major accidents, details of scenarios and control measures, information from the external (offsite) emergency plan, public cooperation advice.
Upper Tier Establishment operators also need to distribute information to persons likely to be affected by an accident. This is Public Information Zone (PIZ) provision and independent of the data entry via the HSE website for basic (Part 1 and Part 2) information.
The COMAH CA will advise the operator when to submit these data.
Further Information -https://www.hse.gov.uk/comah/submitting-public-information.htm
All Operators need to make basic information, about their establishment permanently and electronically available and kept up to date - this is termed “Part 1” information’ by the CA. Each Operator should input this information through a website form made available by the CA (hosted on the HSE website) after 1st June 2015. This is a new duty for all COMAH establishments.
Operators must input the information by selection from a pre-populated menu (it is menu driven to address security concerns).
The public will be able to search through this information. https://www.hse.gov.uk/comah/comah-establishments.htm
As with the previous regulations, upper tier operators will need to distribute information to persons likely to be affected by an accident (in the public information zone - PIZ) according to specific requirements set out in the Regulations. Note - This is additional to the new basic information requirement described above.
What should operators consider now as a result of the modifications to the ‘general duty’?
The minor changes to the general duty ought to have little or no impact on existing COMAH establishments. The refinement in the requirements to the general duties should be assimilated into the establishment Safety Management Systems as an update. For new entrants to COMAH there will be a number of management tasks and processes that need to be implemented. There is COMAH Competent Authority guidance at: https://www.hse.gov.uk/comah/guidance/understanding-comah-new-entrants.pdf
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Page revision date - 1 September 2018
Establishments that were subject to COMAH 1999 and those organisations assessing whether COMAH 2015 may apply will now need to use the Classification, Labelling and Packaging Regulations (CLP).
The CLP Regulations are the EU implementation of the Global Harmonized System (GHS), which was established by the UN to keep the same classification and labelling across all member countries.
CLP now underpins COMAH rather than CHiP.
As a result of CLP, Schedule 1 of COMAH 1999 has been revised in that ‘Categories of Substances’ (not specifically named substances) becomes ‘Hazard Categories’ (Part 1) and there are additional named dangerous substances (Part 2).
The changes to classification mean that every (COMAH) establishment must re-notify stating the revised CLP categorisation of dangerous substances on the establishment.
Safety reports will need to be reviewed and updated taking into account the CLP classifications. The timescale and arrangements for the updates of safety reports is also affected by the status within the five year review cycle.