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Hazardous Materials

Volume 124: debated on Tuesday 15 December 1987

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To ask the Secretary of State for Employment if he will introduce legislation to be enforced by the fire service and road authorities, to require companies involved in the production, storage or use of chemicals to keep an updated and easily accessible record of all potentially hazardous materials above an agreed limit, on site, specifying (a) the location on site of all potential hazardous substances, (b) a list of their chemical names and trade names, (c) their properties, and (d) manufactures' or suppliers' names and emergency telephone numbers; if, pending passage of the legislation, he will introduce a voluntary code of practice approved by the Health and Safety Executive; and if he will make a statement.

Under the Classification, Packaging and Labelling of Dangerous Substances Regulations 1984 (CPLR) dangerous substances are required to be labelled for both supply and/or conveyance by road. The labelling requirements are such that both users and transporters are warned of the possible dangers that could arise when dealing with the substance and the necessary safety precautions to employ.In particular, conveyance labelling alerts the emergency services to the immediate hazards of a substance in cases of an accident. The regulations are enforced by inspectors of the Health and Safety Executive, and the local trading standards authorities.Under both the Notification of Installations Handling Hazardous Substances Regulations 1982 (NIHHS) and the Control of Industrial Major Accident Hazards Regulations 1984 (CIMAH) details of installations which are capable of presenting major accident hazards are already passed to the fire authorities. Information regarding such sites includes their location, the address of the person or organisation responsible for operation and details of each notifiable substance held on the site. In addition, under the CIMA regulations occupiers of sites defined by the regulations as having the greatest major accident hazard potential are required to draw up on and off-site emergency plans in consultation with appropriate bodies such as the emergency services. They in turn are required to prepare off-site emergency plans on the basis of information from occupiers. Such plans will include the major accident hazards presented by the chemicals held on site. Both sets of regulations operate where potentially hazardous materials are kept at or above a prescribed limit and are enforced by inspectors of the Health and Safety Executive.The Health and Safety Commission is also developing proposals for regulations for the notification to the Health and Safety Executive of sites (other than sites otherwise notified), and for the erection of warning signs at sites, containing an aggregate quantity of 25 tonnes or more of dangerous substances. The intention is that notifications will be made available to local fire brigades to enable them to inspect and gather detailed information about such sites for their own purposes. The proposals, which will take account of comments on a consultative document published by the commission, are expected to be submitted to Ministers as early as possible in 1988.I see no advantage at this stage in diverting resources to the development of an interim code of practice.