Dangerous substances and explosive atmospheres

Dangerous Substances and Explosive Atmospheres Regulations 2002. Approved Code of Practice and guidance

Please note: These regulations are subject to amendment from 1 June 2015.

Date of publication:
Series code:
L138 (Second edition)

This Approved Code of Practice (ACOP) and guidance provide practical advice on how to comply with the Dangerous Substances and Explosive Atmospheres Regulations 2002 (DSEAR). These Regulations require the elimination or reduction of risk of fire and explosion from substances connected with work activities.

The ACOP is primarily for an informed and experienced audience such as health and safety professionals. The leaflet Controlling fire and explosion risks in the workplace INDG370 provides a short guide to DSEAR for small and medium-sized businesses.

The ACOP applies to workplaces that manufacture, store, process or use dangerous substances as defined in this publication.

While Unloading petrol from road tankers L133 remains as a separate ACOP, this second edition of L138 incorporates the following ACOPs, which have now been withdrawn:

  • L134 Design of plant, equipment and workplaces
  • L135 Storage of dangerous substances
  • L136 Control and mitigation measures
  • L137 Safe maintenance, repair and cleaning procedures

The consolidated ACOP text and guidance have been clarified, simplified, streamlined and restructured to help the reader. The content has been updated in light of changes to European and domestic legislation, such as substance classification and labelling issues and general fire safety. No significant new duties are placed on businesses that are already in compliance with the replaced ACOPs. The Regulations themselves are unchanged. The text of the 2002 Regulations is reproduced in a more up-to-date practical form rather than as in the 2002 statutory instrument.

Changes to DSEAR from 1 June 2015

From June 2015 DSEAR also covers substances that are corrosive to metals and gases under pressure. It places a formal requirement on employers to assess the risks for substances if classified for these properties and put in place suitable control and mitigation measures.

It is anticipated that the impact of these changes will be minimal because the intrinsic hazards of the substances being used or present in workplaces is unchanged. The need to carry out a risk assessment, and have in place procedures for the safe use of chemicals not currently covered by DSEAR, is already necessary to meet the general requirements of the HSW Act 1974, and the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999. Businesses already complying with these duties are therefore unlikely to need to take any additional action.

Since April 2015 mines are no longer exempt from DSEAR regulations 5(4)(c), 7 and 11.

Minor amendments are being made to this edition to reflect the changes, although the guidance remains substantially the same. An amended version will follow in due course. Basic up to date guidance on DSEAR regulations is available in the Fire and explosion site.

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Updated: 2021-11-12