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Dangerous Substances and Explosive Atmosphere Regulations - DSEAR


DSEAR applies to all dangerous substances at nearly every business, including Higher Education, in the UK. It sets minimum requirements for the protection of staff from fire and explosion risks arising from dangerous substances and potentially explosive atmospheres. DSEAR compliments the general requirement to manage risks under the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 and addresses risk to persons safety from dangerous substances, as opposed to risks to health addressed by the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations (COSHH). In order to ensure compliance Departments are required to:

  • Carry out a risk assessment of any work activities involving dangerous substances
  • Provide technical and organisational controls to eliminate or reduce as far as it is reasonably practicable the identified risks.
  • Provide equipment and procedures to deal with accident and emergencies
  • Provide Information and training to staff
  • Classify places where explosive atmospheres may occur into zones, and mark zones where necessary.

Arrangements should make explicit good practices for reducing the risk from fires, explosions and similar energetic (energy releasing) events that are in turn caused by dangerous substances such as flammable solvents. In most cases the impact of DSEAR will be small, as the risks to safety from fire and explosion will have been addressed by way of their own general risk assessment of work activities in compliance with the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations, and in respect of proper and sufficient escape routes, provision of fire fighting equipment.

Activities/Substances to which DSEAR apply

The following activities and substances may be commonly found in the work situation with the University. The list is not exhaustive, but offered as example:

  • Storage of petrol/diesel as a fuel for cars, horticultural machinery, etc
  • Use of flammable gases, such as acetylene.
  • Handling and storage of waste dusts in woodwork shops.
  • Handling and storage of flammable waste including fuel oils.
  • Hot work on tanks or drums that have contained flammable material.
  • Work activities that could release naturally occurring methane.
  • Use of flammable solvents in laboratories.
  • Storage of flammable goods, such as paints, solvents, reagents.
  • Storage, use and handling of flammable liquids in containers around LPG.
  • Chemical/gas manufacture, resulting from process or research.

DSEAR is concerned with the harmful physical effects from thermal radiation (burns), overpressure- effects (blast injuries) and oxygen depletion effects (asphyxiation) arising from fire or explosion.

For further information or advice contact your departmental Health & Safety Officer or the Fire Safety Adviser.