Safety requirements

Explosives Regulations 2014 (ER2014)

The safety provisions in ER2014 comprise four whole regulations and some elements of a fifth regulation.

The safety provisions require:

Anyone manufacturing or storing explosives to take appropriate measures:

  • to prevent fire or explosions
  • to limit the extent of fire or explosion including measures to prevent the spreading of fires and the communication of explosions from one location to another
  • to protect people from the effects of fire or explosion

People storing explosives to maintain separation distances, identifies the circumstances in which separation distances do not need to be applied, and identifies how separation distances are applied to certain sites that are granted a licence by HSE or ONR.

Anyone discarding or disposing of explosives, or who is decontaminating explosive-contaminated items, to ensure, so far as reasonably practicable, that they are undertaking those activities safely.

Prohibits the manufacture and storage and import of pyrotechnics containing sulphur and/or phosphorus mixed with chlorates without the approval of HSE.

Regulation 13 relates to the grant of licences but also includes safety provisions. It allows:

  • HSE and ONR to prescribe separation distances at most of the sites they license as an alternative to the 'fixed rules' approach required by regulation 27
  • HSE and ONR to prescribe certain activities that will be subject to the provisions of the licence at most of the sites they license to take account of potential interactions between those activities and the manufacture and/or storage of explosives that takes place at that site
  • all licensing authorities to reinforce the requirements of regulation 26 as they relate to the sale of pyrotechnic articles at a site which is licensed for the storage of explosives.


With certain exceptions a licence is required for the manufacture or storage of explosives.

HSE licenses manufacturing activities and larger explosives storage facilities. HSE may not grant a licence for a manufacturing facility or store until the local authority has given its assent. Stores holding less than two tonnes of explosives are either licensed by the local authority or the police, HSE licences stores that are located in a mine or harbour.

How to apply for a licence provides further information.

Separation distances

In most cases a separation distance must be maintained between the explosives building and neighbouring inhabited buildings. This is to keep risks to those living or working in the area to an acceptable level.
If there is development in this separation zone then the quantity that may be kept must be reduced.

The tables in separation distances give the minimum separation distances by hazard type and building construction.

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