What is DSEAR?

DSEAR stands for the Dangerous Substances and Explosive Atmospheres Regulations 2002.

Dangerous substances can put peoples' safety at risk from fire and explosion. DSEAR puts duties on employers and the self-employed to protect people from risks to their safety from fires, explosions and similar events in the workplace, this includes members of the public who may be put at risk by work activity.

"Dangerous Substance":

  1. A substance or preparation which meets the criteria in the approved classification and labelling guide for classification as a substance or preparation which is explosive, oxidising, extremely flammable, highly flammable or flammable, whether or not that substance or preparation is classified under the CHIP/CLP Regulations;
  2. A substance or preparation which because of its physico-chemical or chemical properties and the way it is used or is present at the workplace creates a risk, not being a substance or preparation falling within subparagraph (1) above;
  3. Or any dust, whether in the form of solid particles or fibrous materials or otherwise, which can form an explosive mixture with air or an explosive atmosphere, not being a substance or preparation falling within subparagraphs (a) or (b) above.

Includes any substance or preparation which, because of its properties or the way it is used, could cause harm to people from fires and explosions. Dangerous substances include those with potential energy releasing events similar to fire and explosion such as exothermic reactions. Examples include: petrol; liquefied petroleum gas (LPG); paints; varnishes; solvents; and dusts which when mixed with air could cause an explosive atmosphere (eg dusts from milling and sanding operations)

"Explosive Atmosphere":

Means a mixture, under atmospheric conditions, of air and one or more dangerous substances in the form of gases, vapours, mists or dusts which, after ignition has occurred, combustion spreads to the entire unburned mixture.

Note: From June 2015 DSEAR also covers gases under pressure and substances that are corrosive to metals. From June 2015, DSEAR 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 practical impact, if any, of these changes will be minimal because the intrinsic hazards of the substances being used, or present, in workplaces is unchanged.

What does DSEAR require?

Departments must:

  • find out what dangerous substances are in their workplace and what the fire and explosion risks are;
  • put control measures in place to either remove those risks or, where this is not possible, control them;
  • put controls in place to reduce the effects of any incidents involving dangerous substances;
  • prepare plans and procedures to deal with accidents, incidents and emergencies involving dangerous substances;
  • make sure staff (and students where appropriate) are properly informed about and trained to control or deal with the risks from the dangerous substances;
  • identify and classify areas of the workplace where explosive atmospheres may occur and avoid ignition sources (from unprotected equipment, for example) in those areas.

All actions, including DSEAR risk assessments, must comply under the DSEAR Approved Code of Practice and Guidance (ACOP 2nd Edition 2013).

See Also: HSE Controlling Fire and Explosion Risks in the Workplace

AU DSEAR Risk Assessment Form:

For further information and advice on DSEAR requirements, please contact the HS&E Department on hasstaff@aber.ac.uk.