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Storing petrol safely
 
Petrol is a dangerous substance; it is a highly flammable liquid and can give off vapour which can easily be set on fire and when not handled safely has the potential to cause a serious fire and/or explosion. 
 
This means there is always a risk of a fire and/or an explosion if there is a source of ignition nearby, for example a naked flame, an electrical spark or similar. Because of these risks storing petrol safely is covered by legislation; and this applies to you if you store petrol. 
 
What is the law on storing petrol safely?
The Petroleum (Consolidation) Regulations 2014 (PCR) which came into force on 1 October 2014 apply to:  
workplaces that store petrol where petrol is dispensed, ie retail and non retail petrol filling stations; and
non-workplace premises storing petrol, for example at private homes, or at clubs/associations (or similar).
 
Petroleum Enforcement Authorities (PEAs), formerly Petroleum Licensing Authorities (PLAs) are responsible for enforcing the Petroleum (Consolidation) Regulations 2014. They also continue to enforce DSEAR at workplaces covered by PCR. This means that there is no change to the current enforcing arrangements.
 

The safe storage and use of petrol in workplaces is also covered by the Dangerous Substances and Explosive Atmospheres Regulations 2002 (DSEAR).



Explosives Regulations 2014
 
The new Explosives Regulations 2014 (ER 2014) came into force on 1 October 2014.
 
The ER 2014 consolidates and therefore revokes a number of existing explosives regulations. It brings together the requirements of health and safety related explosives legislation into a framework based around common topics such as authorisation, safety, security and placing on the market. As a result of the consolidation the Approved Code of Practice to the Manufacture and Storage of Explosives Regulations 2005 (L139) has been withdrawn.
 
Guidance relating to the security of explosives (HSE Circular 1/2005), and guidance on the placing of civil use explosives on the market (L66) have also been withdrawn.
 
The main changes to the regulatory framework include:
merging registrations into the licensing system
allowing local authorities to issue licences up to 5 years, aligning them with equivalent HSE/police-issued licences
extending licensing to address storage of ammonium nitrate blasting intermediate (ANBI)
exceptions for keeping higher hazard and desensitised explosives without a licence have been updated
tables of separation distances have been restructured to better allow for sites with more than one store; the tables have also been revised to cover quantities of explosives greater than 2000kg
a revised list of explosives that can be acquired or acquired and kept without an explosives certificate from the police
the repeal of the Fireworks Act 1951
 
The regulations are supported by a suite of overarching and subsector guidance.
 
The overarching guidance consists of two documents:
 
L150 focuses on safety provisions
L151 covers security provisions
 
These top-level documents are principally aimed at more complex and larger operations but they contain overarching technical guidance and background information that will help all dutyholders to comply with the safety and security provisions in the regulations. They are structured around the fundamental objectives, described as ‘statements of success’, that all duty holders in the industry should achieve in a manner that is proportionate to their business and also identify detailed specialist and topic based guidance.
 
The subsector guidance, which will generally follow the same structure as L150, is due to be published soon. HSE will not remove any guidance until such time as a replacement is available. The level of guidance to be used and how to use it will depend on the type of dutyholder, the types of explosive, and the subsector that the dutyholder is operating in.
 

Not all the regulations would be expected to apply to all of the activities of all subsectors. This is because different subsectors undertake different activities and work with different types of explosives. Information on what regulations would be expected to apply to different subsectors is due to be published soon.



Safe use of Acetylene
 
Acetylene is an extremely flammable gas and can form an explosive atmosphere in the presence of air or oxygen.
 
The Dangerous Substances and Explosive Atmospheres Regulations 2002 (‘DSEAR’)
DSEAR Regulations 2002. A risk assessment must be undertaken by employers under DSEAR when acetylene is or is liable to be present in the workplace and suitable controls put in place where an explosive atmosphere may occur in the workplace (see eg DSEAR regulations 5, 7 and 11).
 
The Acetylene Safety (England and Wales and Scotland) Regulations 2014 (‘ASR 2014’)
ASR Regulations 2014 
 
Acetylene gas poses an additional hazard to other flammable gases as it is also reactive. Under certain conditions, even in the absence of any air or oxygen, it can decompose explosively into its constituent elements, carbon and hydrogen. This hazard is not fully addressed by DSEAR and so  additional legal requirements for the safe use  of acetylene gas at equal to or greater than 0.62 barg (“compressed acetylene gas”) and the equipment used with this are provided by the ASR 2014 which came into force on 1 October 2014 to consolidate and modernise existing legislation . The ASR includes, in certain circumstances, the requirement for a flame arrestor to stop the progression of a flame resulting from the decomposition or uncontrolled combustion of acetylene gas, which could lead to an explosion.
 
Simple acetylene welding, cutting and related processes
It is recommended that acetylene gas is only used by those trained to use it using suitably designed handling equipment. 
 
HSE guidance which provides information for basic users of acetylene is available:
Working safely with acetylene INDG327
 
In addition users may also find the following guidance useful:
British Compressed Gases Association (BCGA)  - GN13- DSEAR Risk Assessment
European Industrial Gases association (EIGA) SL04/10   - The safe transport, use and storage of acetylene cylinders
 
Guidance does not replace the need for compliance with the regulations, with which you will also need to be familiar.  
 
Complex/specialist uses of acetylene gas
Acetylene users with more complex or specialist needs should check the information provided by their acetylene gas supplier and the manufacturer of the equipment being used before it is first put into use. It is recommended that modifications to equipment used/to be used with acetylene gas should only be made by those trained to do this; even changes that appear minor may pose significant risks.
 
Cylinders used with acetylene gas following an exposure to a flame
All pressurised cylinders regardless of their contents are at greatest risk of failure whilst being subject to direct-flame contact.
 
If a cylinder filled with compressed acetylene gas is exposed to a flashback, starts to warm up or vibrate, or if such a cylinder was involved in a fire, its contents may have begun to decompose. This process can become self-sustaining causing the cylinder to explode, in some cases hours after the initiating event.. Such cylinders pose a risk to anyone in their vicinity and it is strongly advised that they should not be approached until they are made safe. It is recommended that an area of 200 meters around the heated cylinder is evacuated immediately and the Fire and Rescue Service (FRS) is called straight away. The Fire and Rescue Services have specific procedures for dealing with cylinders containing acetylene. It is strongly advised you do not attempt to move such a cylinder nor make any attempt to release its pressure by venting it as this could accelerate decomposition.
 
Further information and industry guidance can be found at:
 Cylinders in fire  - British Compressed Gases Association
The BCGA have also reproduced the relevant section for such cylinders from ‘Fire and rescue service operational guidance: incidents involving hazardous materials 
 
Colour coding of cylinders containing Acetylene Gas

Misidentification of cylinders in an emergency situation can increase risks or may result in unnecessary disruption. For this reason, cylinders filled with compressed acetylene gas must be coloured ‘Maroon’ (RAL 3007) on both the shoulder and body of the cylinder  If the colour of the cylinder is different or has become obscured for some reason (eg paint overspray, abrasion, corrosion) it will be unlawful for you to use it with compressed acetylene gas. It is advised that you contact your supplier for advice.