The Dangerous Substances and Explosive Atmospheres Regulations 2002 (DSEAR) came into force on 9th December 2002.
DSEAR applies to all dangerous substances at nearly every business, including HE, in the UK. It sets minimum requirements for the protection of workers from fire and explosion risks arising from dangerous substances and potentially explosive atmospheres.
DSEAR complements the general requirement to manage risks under the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 and addresses risk to persons safety from dangerous substances, as opposed to risks to health addressed by COSHH.
Guidance on what constitutes a 'dangerous substance' and how to complete the risk assessment is available below.
Desensitised explosives are solid or liquid explosive substances which are wetted, diluted, dissolved or suspended with a phlegmatiser in order to suppress or at least reduce their explosive properties.
For transport some desensitised explosives are specifically listed and special provisions which are to be met are assigned to them. Depending on their physical state and the substances used to achieve desensitisation they are then classified as flammable solids or flammable liquids.
However, desensitised explosives may become again explosive under certain circumstances - especially after long term storage and during handling and use, e.g. when the phlegmatising substance is removed or its concentration is decreased for example due to evaporation - and some desensitised explosives may have explosive properties even in the desensitised state.
Some researchers have reported difficulties in ordering new stock of chemicals that are classed as desensitised explosives, as reputable suppliers now require evidence of registration under the Manufacture and Storage of Explosives Regulations 2005 (MSER) and certification under the Control of Explosives Regulations 1991 (COER).
The licensing requirements are as follows:-
The need for licensing is triggered by allocated UN numbers. UN numbers are four-digit numbers that identify dangerous goods and articles (such as explosives, flammable liquids, toxic substances, etc.) in the framework of international transport. These UN numbers are used to classify and identify desensitised explosives. Some dangerous goods have their own UN numbers (e.g. Urea Nitrate (wetted with ≥10% water by mass) has UN 3370), while sometimes groups of chemicals or products with similar properties receive a common UN number (e.g. Desensitized Explosive, Solid N.O.S has UN 3380). A chemical in its solid state may receive a different UN number than the liquid phase if their hazardous properties differ significantly (e.g. Desensitized Explosive, Liquid N.O.S has UN 3379).
Substances with different levels of purity and for the purposes of Desensitized Explosives, the amount of wetting agent present, may also receive different UN numbers (Picric acid (2,4,6 trinitrophenol) with ≥ 30% water, by mass has UN1344, Picric acid (2,4,6 trinitrophenol) with ≥ 10% water, by mass has 3364).
There is an extensive list of desensitised explosives, however many are exempt under the Explosive Regulations. The chemicals in the table below require both a certificate to acquire under COER and registration to store under MSER. The UN number can be found on the Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) for a particular chemical.
The competent person who is to be in charge of the material designated a ‘desensitised explosive’ (the applicant) should contact the Explosives Licensing Officer at Lothian and Borders Police - please have the UN number of the material to hand.
The Licensing Officer will arrange to visit the proposed holding School to interview the applicant and to view the storage arrangements. If all is in order the application goes before the Chief Constable for approval, if all is not acceptable alterations, in order to comply, will have to be put in place and a revisit organised before the application goes before the Chief Constable.
The School of Chemistry hold a licence and registration for desensitised explosives, it would therefore be prudent if any other School intending to apply for such certification/registration viewed their storage facilities to ensure that any proposed storage facility in the new applicant School meets the required standard.
It should be noted that certification/registration incurs a fee payable by the applicant School to Lothian and Borders Police.
This article was published on Jul 19, 2010