You can now search online for public information about establishments in your area that are covered by the Control of Major Accident Hazards (COMAH) Regulations 2015.
The system to provide public information about COMAH establishments in Great Britain (GB) has been made available to the public in a phased manner since 1 June 2015. The purpose of this new way of accessing information via a website is to enable people to find out about COMAH establishments in their local area.
The information relates to operational establishments which are subject to the above Regulations because certain dangerous substances are present at or above the qualifying thresholds in the Regulations.
The information will be specific to your search. It tells you about the type of business and the controls in place to minimise the likelihood of a major accident. You may take reassurance from the fact that many COMAH establishments have existed for a number of years and their operators understand the requirements placed on them to operate safely.
Although the substances used or stored at COMAH establishments can be dangerous, the establishments are strictly regulated under the COMAH Regulations 2015 and have to manage their activities in a way which reduce risks to workers and the public. Operators must take all measures necessary to prevent major accidents and to limit their consequences for people and the environment. This is achieved through appropriate plant design, process control, mitigation measures and emergency procedures.
The regulations are enforced by a Competent Authority which comprises jointly the Health and Safety Executive in GB and the relevant environment agency (the Environment Agency in England, Scottish Environment Protection Agency in Scotland and Natural Resources Body for Wales in Wales). Nuclear establishments are regulated by the Office for Nuclear Regulation and the relevant environment agency.
There are two types (tiers) of establishment which are subject to COMAH, known as ‘Upper Tier’ and ‘Lower Tier’ depending on the quantity of dangerous substances they hold. Upper Tier establishments will hold greater quantities of dangerous substances meaning that additional requirements are placed on them by the Regulations.
The information about each COMAH establishment has been provided by its operator. All establishments are required to provide certain categories of information, while Upper Tier establishments are also required to provide some further details.
The CA inspection plans reflect the work of the HSE and environmental regulators at COMAH Establishments. Each year, the CA prioritises which establishments to inspect using a number of factors, including the quantity and type of dangerous substances present, the activity undertaken, and the characteristics of the surrounding area i.e. local communities and/or the sensitivity of the natural environment. Based on this analysis, the CA identifies which areas of the establishments operations should be inspected to determine the effectiveness of the operators overall arrangements for controlling the risk of a major accident.
The Competent Authority develops an annual inspection plan for each COMAHestablishment which is made available to the operator.
Each inspection plan is different and reflects the main characteristics of the COMAH establishment. Typically, an inspection plan will outline the work necessary to assess operators’ safety reports or other work to check compliance with outcomes of previous inspections. Plans may also list one or more of the CA’s Strategic Topics where inspectors will look in greater depth at particular aspects of operators’ control of risks relating to that topic.
You can find out more about a COMAH establishment near you by visiting the company website or contacting them direct.
If you require more information about CA inspections at a particular COMAH establishment, contact the HSE, in the first instance, to request information under the Environmental Information Regulations.