The Complex is subject to many different legislative requirements across the full range of its activities for both conventional safety, process safety and the environment.
Until the COMAH Regulations came into force on 1 April 1999, the HSE and SEPA operated completely separate inspection regimes. From 1 April 1999 the HSE and SEPA jointly form the Competent Authority as defined under the COMAH Regulations. A Memorandum of Understanding defines the responsibilities of the two bodies. Under the terms of the agreement SEPA were involved in the Competent Authority investigations that took place following the incidents but it was agreed that the HSE would take the lead as safety issues were predominant.
The HSE has been the primary regulatory authority at the Complex for health and safety legislation for many years and has a long history of involvement on-site under different legislative banners ranging from the Factories Act 1961, through the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 and the Control of Industrial Major Accident Hazards (CIMAH) 1984 Regulations to the Control of Major Accident Hazard Regulations (COMAH) 1999.
The CIMAH Regulations 1984 came into affect following a series of major accidents in Europe, including the Flixborough major accident in 1974 in Britain. This led to the Advisory Committee on Major Hazards (ACMH) reporting to the UK parliament in the late 1970’s. The CIMAH Regulations evolved from the ACMH and the Seveso I Directive from the EC. (The Directive followed the major accident at the ICMESA plant in Italy in 1976 which involved the accidental production and release of a dioxin as an unwanted by-product from a runaway chemical reaction. This led to widespread contamination of the surrounding area. This major accident was the catalyst for improving safety legislation across the European Community).
The HSE also inspects and enforces "conventional" health and safety issues such as workplace transport, falls from height, confined spaces, asbestos etc which are generally covered under the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974.
Primary regulatory responsibility within the HSE for the Complex lies within Land Division and the Hazardous Installations Directorate (HID) of the HSE. HID Land Division is concerned primarily with on-shore chemical processing facilities and the implementation of the COMAH Regulations across the Complex.
The HSE and health and safety legislation is a "reserved" matter for the Westminster Parliament. Following Scottish devolution however SEPA reports to the Scottish Ministers and Executive.
Since the formation of the Scottish Executive the HSE in Scotland has liaised directly with the Scottish Executive. A framework to guide the working relationship between the HSE and the Scottish Executive has been developed in the form of a Concordat. The objective of the Concordat is to ensure that the roles and responsibilities of the two organisations in the new constitutional structure are effectively translated into practical working arrangements between the two organisations.
Ministers from both the Scottish Assembly and Westminster, and MPs and MSPs, expressed concern at the major accidents and BP’s performance. The HSE and SEPA gave regular briefings to them throughout the post-incident investigation phase.
Due to the range and extent of the hazards presented by the Complex there was a regular dialogue between the HSE and BP prior to the series of incidents which occurred and the HSE were present on-site on a regular basis. The Complex is complicated to regulate and involvement on-site from the HSE/SEPA prior to the series of incidents was already found to be increasing. Additional resource was necessary to carry out both the pro-active (for example, a new inspection strategy and plan had been developed to handle major accident topics) and the reactive regulatory activities required (for example, involvement in incident investigations).