CoMAH 2015: What you want to know about the new regulations

toxic_wasteOn 1 June 2015 the Handle of Key Accident Hazards Regulations 2015 (CoMAH) replaced CoMAH 1999, which has now been revoked. The goal of the CoMAH regulations is to stop key accidents involving hazardous substances – such as a significant emission, fire, or explosion – and limit the consequences to folks and the atmosphere of any accidents which do happen. In this brief post*, we discover the background to CoMAH, as nicely as highlighting the essential modifications you need to have to be aware of.

Background to CoMAH

Like a lot of security regulations, CoMAH was a response to a critical industrial accident. At about 12.30pm on ten July 1976, a runaway reaction occurred in a modest chemical plant close to the town of Seveso in the Lombardy region of Italy. This led to the release of around 1kg of two, three, 7, eight-tetrachlorodi-benzo-p-dioxin (TCDD) into the atmosphere. It was by far the highest environmental dioxin release to date, contaminating roughly six square miles of soil surrounding the chemical plant. The release killed more than three,000 animals (mostly poultry and rabbits). A further 80,000 had been slaughtered to avoid the dioxin entering the meals chain. No human deaths were attributed to the dioxin release, despite the fact that several men and women fell ill (approximately 500 situations of the skin disease chloracne had been reported). The monetary price, which included a massive clean-up operation, ultimately rose to about $ 150 million. iStock_000016322937Small

The Seveso disaster resulted in a new European Directive on the major accident hazards of particular industrial activities. Adopted in June 1982, Council Directive 82/501/EEC became more typically known as the Seveso Directive following the town most affected by the disaster.

The directive, which was later amended in view of the lessons learned from accidents such as Bhopal, specifically covers these web sites manufacturing, using or handling massive quantities of hazardous substances. At present, Seveso applies to more than 10,000 industrial establishments in the EU.

CoMAH 2015

The general aim of CoMAH is to make sure that essential measures are taken to prevent and limit the effects of major accidents involving dangerous substances. Below the regulations establishments fall into 3 principal groups:

  • Upper tier establishments: related with the highest potential dangers (these had been referred to as prime tier websites in CoMAH 1999)
  • Lower tier establishments: related with reduced danger but are nonetheless inside the scope of CoMAH
  • Web sites which do not fall inside the scope of CoMAH

The hazards and amounts of substances on-website determine regardless of whether that internet site falls into the scope of CoMAH and, if so, to which tier that internet site belongs. Qualifying quantities primarily based on classification are given in Schedule 1, Element 1 of the regulations. Some substances are designated as named substances which have different qualifying quantities from those of the generic classification. For each and every of these substances the qualifying quantity is specified in Schedule 1, Component two (Element two overrides Element 1).

The main features/needs of the regulations include:

  • Notification: exactly where quantities of dangerous substances on a web site meet or exceed thresholds laid down by CoMAH, the operator have to notify the relevant Competent Authority (CA).
  • MAPP: All CoMAH establishments should prepare a Significant Accident Prevention Policy. This does not have to go into detail, but is rather a common statement about how the web site will stop major accidents.
  • SMS: all establishments have to have a Safety Management Method to implement the MAPP.
  • CoMAH Safety Report: (upper tier establishments only). This is a detailed report of the arrangements in place to prevent and limit the effects of main accidents.
  • On-site emergency plan (upper tier establishments only). Sites should prepare, overview and test an on-internet site emergency plan to control, contain and mitigate the effects of a significant accident.
  • Provision of information to be created accessible to
    • Neighborhood authorities for off-site emergency organizing purposes (upper tier establishments only).
    • The public, specifically those probably to be most affected by a major accident.
    • A neighbouring member state which may be impacted by a key accident.
    • Other nearby internet sites which may themselves have inventories of hazardous substances.

In Fantastic Britain, CoMAH is enforced by the CoMAH Competent Authority (CA), which consists of the Health and Security Executive (or in the case of nuclear internet sites, the Office for Nuclear Regulation) collectively with the relevant regional atmosphere agency. The CA’s function is “to oversee and coordinate the regulation of key hazards in the UK and guarantee that the regime operates effectively”.

Primary alterations to CoMAH

According to the HSE:

‘Change has been kept to a minimum as far as feasible in generating the COMAH Regulations 2015 to implement the Seveso III Directive. Even so, there are adjustments that operators and other stakeholders will want to familiarise themselves with.

The Seveso III Directive, and by extension the COMAH Regulations 2015, apply to any business exactly where dangerous substances, as set out in Annex 1 of the Directive, are either present on website at or above the threshold quantities or could be generated in the occasion of an accident. All kinds of organizations with dangerous substances are covered, not just these in the chemical sector.’

The alterations from Seveso II to III have been summarised right here.


The modifications described in this post may be painful in the short term. Nonetheless, the potential positive aspects of this move towards globalisation incorporate a more uniform approach to well being and safety and the economic largess of a level playing field. coshh Skull Quiz

Given the complexity of this task, a single selection for websites may be to get expert assist. Guidance is also available from HSE, which has developed a comprehensive guidance document to the regulations, that can be downloaded for totally free from the HSE site.


*This post is an abridged version of an post written by Nick Cook that initially appeared in RoSPA’s Occupational Safety &amp Wellness Journal.

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