The new Seveso III regulations (SI 209 of 2015) came into effect in Ireland in 2015. This new legislation was drawn up to reflect changes to the international system for classifying, labelling and packaging dangerous substances (CLP). In addition to the changes that were explicitly required to reflect the new CLP, there are several other changes that the operators of COMAH establishments should be aware of.
All operators must resubmit notifications to the Health & Safety Authority (HSA), to confirm the status of their sites as a lower- or upper-tier establishments under the regulations. The HSA is in the process of developing a new template for this and all operators must re-submit notifications once the template is in place. The deadline for operators of existing establishments is 1 June 2016.
Operators should also note that the new notification template will require the provision of more detailed information than before, including:
- Summary details of the most significant major accident scenarios
- Details on how the public will be alerted in the event of an accident
- Information on land-use-planning matters
The notification is the key document that the HSA will use to make information available to the public. If an operator considers that any of the information contained within the notification should be treated as confidential, there is provision to make this case to the HSA.
Major accident prevention policies (MAPP) & safety management systems (SMS)
Operators are required to review and, if necessary, update their major accident prevention policies (MAPP) and safety management systems (SMS) to ensure that they meet the requirements set out in the Regulations. This must be completed by 1 June 2016.
All safety reports must be reviewed by 1 June 2016 to ensure that they are in accordance with the new legislation. As this document is already on a 5-yearly review cycle, the review requirements are dependent on when the most recent safety report was issued, as summarised below.
- Subsequent to 1 June 2015: any safety reports submitted after the new regulations were published should reflect the new legislation. They will also be assessed by the HSA in this context. As such, there is no requirement for an additional review in these cases.
- Prior to 1 June 2015: the report must be reviewed to ensure it contains all the relevant details on the hazardous properties of the materials based on the CLP system. The report must also be updated to ensure that all references are to the new regulations. It is likely that reports submitted before 1 June 2015 but after the introduction of EU Directive 2012/18/EU (on 4 July 2012) will contain much of the CLP-based information.
The above applies for operators whose existing safety reports were drawn up in accordance with the HSA guidelines and whose documents were accepted by the HSA. The HSA is currently working on an update to its safety report guidance document.
Emergency response planning
There are no direct implications for operators with respect to emergency response planning. The regulatory requirements for the internal and external emergency plans remain effectively unchanged. For any operators that identify new hazards at their establishments as a result of changes brought about under CLP, the emergency plans must be reviewed to ensure that all credible accident scenarios are covered. Because the regulations require that the emergency plans are developed in consultation with local competent authorities, more formal reviews may be triggered for some operators, depending on the approaches taken by different local authorities.