Major accidents involving dangerous substances pose a substantial threat to human life and the environment. While use of these materials is unavoidable in some industries, it is crucial to have stringent measures in place to mitigate potential risks, or in the worst case, to minimise the consequences of major accidents. Here are a few tips from our dedicated specialists on the most rational ways to deal with it:
If your facility has developed to be covered by EU’s Seveso III Directive on Control of major accident hazards (in UK the COMAH regulations, in Denmark "risikobekendtgørelserne"), then your dedicated Safety Report must be accepted by the competent authorities. Regulations vary a little between the EU member states.
The Safety Report is a controlling document for the facility from cradle to grave, that must be updated on a regular basis. Company dedication, i.e. ownership of policies and procedures for operation, maintenance and emergencies, is a must to ensure commitment to the accepted safety level at all times. We recommend the following steps:
By doing so, you will experience a smooth and quick handling by the competent authorities, resulting in an acceptance of the Safety Report. And specialists with relevant experience like COWI can guide you and assist wherever necessary in the process.
The process to prepare a Safety Report for a company that handles dangerous substances, comprises several activities that require specialist knowledge and experience.
If dangerous materials are involved when planning a new facility, not only are environmental impact assessments and full operational risk assessments normally required, but depending on the amount of dangerous substances involved, a preliminary Safety Report must also be prepared and accepted by the authorities. It is well known, that the cheapest solution (most safety for the same costs) is achieved, if risk-reducing measures are built into the concept from the start.
While it's impossible to finalise a safety management system before you have a design and an organisation in place, the concept design phase is the ideal time to start identifying hazards, to complete preliminary consequence calculations, and anticipate what risk reducing measures can be taken right from the very start to prevent major accidents from happening. Then of course, this must be continually updated when the design is matured and taken into operation.
If the risks are not dealt with, the consequences for people and the environment can be serious.
In simple terms, the safety report must show that adequate safety and reliability measures are in place at all installations, storage facilities, equipment or infrastructure which are linked to major accident hazards within the facility.
The safety report must identify how dangerous materials could be released in the event of an accident. For example, could release of toxic or flammable materials cause toxic fumes/smoke, heat radiation or fragments from an explosion to reach a local hospital, school, residential area, or other neighbours if there was an accident at the facility? And if so, what is the likelihood of this happening? What is the risk to the employees at the plant?
Risk is a combination of likelihood and consequence, so if there may be a serious consequence – for example a high death toll, then the likelihood of the accident occurring must be very low.
Safety reports are not just for the design of new facilities. The European Commission's Seveso Directive applies to more than 12,000 industrial establishments in the EU where dangerous substances are handled or stored in large quantities – for example in the oil and gas, the chemical and the petrochemical industry, chemicals or fuel wholesale and storage sites including LPG and LNG facilities, facilities with ammonia-based cooling/refrigeration systems, and ammunition or firework storages.
Safety reports never stands still, and we all continue to learn from accidents, and develop our risk assessment and safety management expertise to lessen the threat of major accidents involving dangerous substances for generations to come.