Risk Assessments

BCGA’s mission is to promote health and safety in the use, storage, transportation and handling of industrial, food and medical gases.

Within BCGA, it is fully accepted that the key to successful health and safety management is the identification of risks to health and safety, then the assessment and management of these risks.

In the past, safety management was largely reactive; an accident occurred, it was investigated to establish causes, and corrective action was implemented in an attempt to prevent recurrence.  Nowadays, whilst there is still value in rigorously investigating incidents, safety management is expected to be proactive. We should not wait for accidents to occur in order to protect health and safety. Regulators’ expectations reflect this requirement to proactively manage health and safety and, indeed, environmental and quality risks, and this expectation is enforceable in law. A proactive and legally compliant approach is guided by, developed by and documented through a suitable and sufficient risk assessment.

The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations requires the identification of all hazards in the workplace, to anticipate what risks may occur and the scale and likelihood of the harm which may be caused, then to implement adequate controls to remove the risk or to reduce and manage the risk to as low a level as is reasonably practicable.

The basic principles and stages of conducting a risk assessment are:

  • a competent team conducts the risk assessment;
  • identify the risks;
  • identify who might be harmed, and how;
  • evaluate the risks;
  • assess and implement appropriate controls, taking into account any controls already in place and taking account of a hierarchy of risk management. Risks should be eliminated, or managed to as low a level as is reasonably practicable;
  • record the risk assessment in writing. In many cases, you will wish to communicate relevant aspects of the risk assessment to specific persons;
  • review and update the risk assessment on a regular basis.

Risk assessments are a formal statement as to the health and safety management approach of an organisation, team or individual. It is recommended that risk assessments are countersigned by senior managers.

Risk assessments should be recorded in writing. Format suggestions are available, for example, on the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) website, where further advice on risk assessment on other specific topics is also available.

The handling, storage and use of gases and gas containers introduces risks, and requires suitable and sufficient risk assessment.  To assist in the risk assessment process, BCGA has published TIS 49Risk assessment considerations for activities involving compressed gas cylinders within the workplace.

DSEAR

The Dangerous Substances and Explosive Atmospheres Regulations (DSEAR), are concerned with preventing or limiting the harmful effects of fires, explosions and similar energy-releasing events (and corrosion to metals) arising from specific types of dangerous substances which may be present in the workplace. This includes all compressed gases.

The Regulations set minimum requirements for the protection of persons from these risks, which includes gases under pressure, and requires employers to control the risks to employees and others.

DSEAR require that any in-scope workplace is subject to a range of requirements, including classification of workplaces into hazardous zones based on the risk of an explosive situation developing. This includes, for example, where flammable or oxidising gases are present or may occur. Management of sources of ignition may be required, in these types of workplace, by selecting equipment and protective systems in line with The Equipment and Protective Systems for Use in Potentially Explosive Atmospheres Regulations (EPS)

The HSE website provides further information on implementing the DSEAR and EPS Regulations.

BCGA provide advice on DSEAR within BCGA GN 13DSEAR risk assessment guidance for compressed gases, in respect of gases.

Human Factors

Within any risk assessment, and within any incident investigation, consideration shall be given to the part played by people in respect of health and safety management, and particularly taking account of the inherent fallibility of people.

Consider how human failures can be reduced and how performance may be optimised (for example, through reducing confusion, allowing for lapses, applying ergonomic principles, inherently safe designs, etc.). A basic understanding of Human Factors principles will help influence appropriate risk management and selection of suitable and effective controls. Organisations should take a proportionate approach to human factors during their risk assessment and incident investigation processes. BCGA provide further guidance in BCGA TIS 44, Human factors.

Publications

BCGA publish several publications providing advice and guidance on the safe management of gases. All BCGA publications are accessible via the Publications page

Publications

GN3 Gas cylinder – Manual handling operations. Revision 4: 2022

31/08/2022 Guidance Notes GN3

Provides guidance on the principles of safe practice when handling gas cylinders. It takes account of the Manual Handling Operations Regulations, as they relate to gas cylinders, and provides an illustrated example of good practice.

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GN9 The application of the confined spaces regulations to beverage dispense. Revision 3: 2020

22/10/2020 Guidance Notes GN9

All gases, unless they contain sufficient oxygen, can kill by asphyxiation. Enriched carbon dioxide atmospheres can be intoxicating. The risk from these hazards is increased in any location where there is inadequate ventilation, such as an enclosed or confined space. The Confined Spaces Regulations require that a suitable and sufficient risk assessment is carried out and appropriate controls are put in place, through a safe system of work, to protect those who are required to access a confined space.

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GN13 DSEAR risk assessment guidance for compressed gases. Revision 1: 2021

14/01/2021 Guidance Notes GN13

Provides guidance on the Dangerous Substances and Explosive Atmospheres Regulations 2002 (DSEAR) which require all sites, where there are gas containers, to undertake a risk assessment and, where necessary, to implement appropriate controls.

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GN41 Separation distances in the gases industry. 2020

03/08/2020 Guidance Notes GN41

Clarifies BCGA’s meaning of, and recommendations for, separation distances. This edition has collected many separation distances used in BCGA publications into a single document. Future revisions of this Guidance Note will review, further develop and consolidate the separation distances.

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TIS27 Risk assessment guidance for the safe use of liquid nitrogen dewars. Revision 1: 2020

28/04/2020 Technical Information Sheets TIS27

Provides guidance when carrying out a risk assessment on the specific hazards associated with using dewars containing liquid nitrogen.

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TIS44 Human factors. 2019

14/05/2019 Technical Information Sheets TIS44

Human factors influence behaviour at work in a way that could affect health and safety. This document focuses on human factors whilst at work within the gases industry.

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TIS49 Risk assessment considerations for activities involving compressed gas cylinders within the workplace. 2023

27/04/2023 Technical Information Sheets TIS49

The handling, storage and use of gas cylinders is potentially hazardous and requires suitable and sufficient risk assessment. This document assists in the risk assessment process, providing information on the hazards associated with gases and gas cylinders.

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CP52 The management of risks from gases in the workplace

09/10/2023 Codes of Practice CP52

Identifies hazards from the use and the potential for the escape, leak or accumulation of gases into the workplace and the associated risks. It provides guidance for risk assessment and appropriate mitigation measures.

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