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Diesel to be brought under UK dangerous substances regulations

30 October 2014

The UK Dangerous Substances and Explosive Atmospheres Regulations 2002 (DSEAR) set minimum requirements for the protection of workers from fire and explosion risks related to dangerous substances and potentially explosive atmospheres. DSEAR applies to employers and the self-employed at most workplaces in Great Britain where a dangerous substance is present or could be present.

Due to its flashpoint being relatively high, diesel is not currently covered by DSEAR (i.e. it is not currently classified as a dangerous substance). By June 2015, however, the classification of diesel and similar fuel oils will change within the CLP Regulation, EU regulations designed to introduce a globally harmonised system of classification and labelling of substances and mixtures. From June 2015, the upper flashpoint for flammable liquid will increase from 55°C to 60°C, and, as a result, diesel, along with other similar fuel oils, will be classified as a flammable liquid.

In practical terms, the Health and Safety Executive's (HSE) view is that although the classification will change, the actual properties of diesel (and the other similar fuel oils), and thus the risks, have not altered. It therefore expects little impact in terms of any control measures.

The HSE is keen to point out that employers should adopt a proportionate approach in considering whether there are any justifiable further measures needed in addition to those widely used before this change, given that the risk itself has not changed.

Nevertheless, businesses that use/store diesel must ensure they are compliant with DSEAR. By way of example, a risk assessment will need to be carried out which identifies the dangerous substance (diesel) and the work activity involving that substance. The assessment would also need to consider how the storage and use of diesel may give rise to fire, explosions or other events.

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