The Association of Manufacturers and suppliers of Power Systems and ancillary equipment


Diesel fuel as a hazardous substance?

Question:

We are a generating set manufacturer. We are aware that In June 2015, diesel fuel was reclassified within the EU. This makes diesel fall under the dangerous substances regulations (DSEAR) of 2002.

We have found this historic article online, which may help describe things more clearly ---

http://www.nabarro.com/insight/briefings/2014/october/diesel-to-be-caught-under-dangerous-substances-regulations/

As a manufacturer, we have chosen as our normal standard to put various precautionary measures in place, we are careful when locating gauges and electrical equipment within our cabinets, proximity to fill lines and potential spill areas. When installing pumps, we ensure that ATEX rated connections are used and where necessary ATEX rated equipment. We have also taken the precaution of now fitting internal fill pipes within the inner tank, so rather than as previous the tank would splash fill from the top, we now fill at around 100mm off the base of the tank via a drop pipe, which means the product enters into product and reduces the risk of misting/vapour within the tank.

Unfortunately, this has implications, our fuel tank supplier has advised that the overfill valves which we use, can only be used with the splash fill design. The supplier has highlighted this and offered an alternative a stop overfill valve which works in the drop pipe line. These valves sadly are more expensive and we have to fit the additional drop pipe work. Is this necessary?

Response:

Firstly, the re classification of diesel fuel stems from the United Nations not the EU. As the UN is not a law enforcement body, it is up to each country or group of countries to take this into their legal structure. In this case, the EU has issued a Regulation.

The clues then are in the linked document from Nabarro which contains the following:

“Practically, the Health and Safety Executive's (HSE) view is that although the classification will change, the actual properties of diesel (and the other similar fuel oils), and thus the risks, have not altered. It therefore expects little impact in terms of any control measures. The HSE is keen to point out that employers should adopt a proportionate approach in considering whether there are any justifiable further measures needed in addition to those widely used before this change, given that the risk itself has not changed.”

Although a proportionate approach should be adopted, businesses that use/store diesel fuel must ensure they are compliant with DSEAR. By way of example, a risk assessment will need to be carried out which identifies the "dangerous substance" (diesel) and the work activity involving that substance. The assessment would also need to consider how the storage and use of diesel may give rise to fire, explosions or other events.”

This represents the typically pragmatic view that HSE have been known for in the past. As they rightly say, diesel fuel has not changed and neither has its application, therefore the risks have not changed and we would not therefore expect the control measures to change significantly either.

Any responsible manufacturer and installer should have been risk assessing any fuel storage or pipework facility and adopting such means as are needed to mitigate risks to practical levels to avoid risks of fire, explosions or other events such as pollution episodes, etc. Therefore, regardless of whether diesel fuel is now considered to be classed under DSEAR or not, does not alter the fact that manufacturers and installers should be assessing risks and putting controls in place.

You may also wish to consider your duties under the Construction, Design and Management regulations where appropriate.

See also:

http://www.hse.gov.uk/fireandexplosion/dsear-background.htm

http://www.hse.gov.uk/chemical-classification/legal/clp-regulation.htm

http://echa.europa.eu/information-on-chemicals/cl-inventory-database/-/discli/details/32788

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