Risk Assessments

BCGA’s mission is to promote 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 safety management is the assessment and management of risk. In the past safety management was essentially reactive – an accident occurred, it was investigated thoroughly to establish root cause, and corrective action was implemented to minimise the chance of a recurrence.

The introduction in 1992 of the Management of Health & Safety at Work Regulations obliged all organisations to assess risk and try to anticipate what can go wrong, and implement control measures to reduce the risk. Today it is clear that safety management must focus on prevention – we should not wait for accidents to occur in order to improve. But how can effective risk assessment be carried out?

DSEAR

The Dangerous Substances and Explosive Atmospheres Regulations 2002 (DSEAR), which are concerned with protection against risks from fire, explosion and similar events arising from dangerous substances used or present in the workplace, have been updated. From June 2015 DSEAR also covers gases under pressure and substances that are corrosive to metals. This is to allow for changes in the EU Chemical Agents Directive the physical hazards aspects of which are enacted in Great Britain through DSEAR. They set minimum requirements for the protection of workers from fire and explosion risks related to dangerous substances and potentially explosive atmospheres and from gases under pressure and substances corrosive to metals and require employers to control the risks to the safety of employees and others from these hazards.

Gases that are under pressure (e.g. gas in a cylinder) may present a risk of explosion if not correctly handled in the workplace. Substances that can corrode metals could cause structural damage reducing integrity of structures if not suitably contained. Since June 2015, DSEAR has placed 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. The Health & Safety Executive (HSE) 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. The need to carry out a risk assessment and have in place procedures for the safe use of chemicals, not currently covered by DSEAR, is already required by the general requirements of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 and the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999. Therefore, assuming businesses are already complying with these duties, they are unlikely to need to take any additional action.

For further information on DSEAR and its implication for gas cylinders refer to the HSE website. Many helpful documents are available to show how this process can be conducted.

Human Factors

Within any risk assessment, consideration should always be given to optimising human performance and reducing human failures. Human factors influence behaviour at work in a way that could affect health and safety. Organisations need to take a proportionate approach to human factors during their risk assessment based on their hazard and risk profile. BCGA provide guidance in BCGA TIS 44, Human factors.

At a very general level the HSE have provided some documents giving advice on the basic technique of risk assessment. For example, HSE Leaflet INDG 163 outlines a simple process of risk assessment which can be applied to any activity. Further HSE guidance is available from www.hse.gov.uk

Publications

Publications

GN3 Safe cylinder handling and the application of the manual handling operations regulations to gas cylinders. Revision 3: 2016

1781 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 a worked example of a typical manual handling risk assessment.

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

1820 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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GN11 The management of risk when using gases in enclosed workplaces. Revision 4: 2018

1825 Guidance Notes GN11

Provides guidance that can be used in the assessment of risk associated with gases in enclosed workplaces, to help identify where hazardous atmospheres may occur and to advise on control measures that may be appropriate.

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

1829 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

1952 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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TIS15 Model risk assessment for the storage and use of gas cylinders for oxy-fuel applications. Revision 1: 2015

1965 Technical Information Sheets TIS15

This document lays out a model risk assessment. Included are a series of tabulated risk assessment sheets which address the main aspects of the storage, transportation and use of oxygen / fuel cylinders. A copy is also provided in a format that allows the user to modify the contents to suit their specific needs.

Where this document is downloaded as an Excel Spreadsheet, the user has the option of amending the contents and, as such, it is beyond the direct control of the BCGA. In this situation, the user takes full responsibility for the contents of the document.

Please see the TIS 15 below to download the amendable Excel Spreadsheet.

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TIS17 Model risk assessment for the manual handling of gas cylinders. Revision 1: 2016

1971 Technical Information Sheets TIS17

A Model Risk Assessment supporting BCGA Guidance Note 3 and which assists users to identify and manage the safety hazards associated with the manual handling of gas cylinders.

A copy is also provided in a format that allows the user to modify the contents to suit their specific needs. See TIS 17 Excel publication.

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TIS26 Model risk assessment for the transport of gas cylinders. 2012

1993 Technical Information Sheets TIS26

A Model Risk Assessment intended to support BCGA Code of Practice 31 and which assists users with identifying and managing the safety hazards associated with the transportation of gas cylinder packages containing both compressed, liquefied and dissolved gases. It does not cover cylinder bundles and cryogenic liquid vessels.

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

1994 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

2023 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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BCGA has developed a number of model risk assessments that are relevant to the gases industry, listed here along with other relevant documents. The HSE DSEAR regulations can be found on their website.