The Risk Management Tool Box Blog

UK Explosives Legislation Review

Graham Marshall - Thursday, August 01, 2013

The UK Health and Safety Executive (UK HSE) is holding a public consultation on consolidated regulations that will simplify the safety laws for manufacturing, handling and storing explosives.

The consolidated set of regulations include European requirements in relation to product safety.

The UK HSE is seeking input from businesses and stakeholders through an eight-week public consultation that began on 30 July 2013.

Interested party's may include industry, other Government departments, third sector groups, and individual.

The consultative document and details of how to respond to the consultation are available on the HSE website.

The objective of the review is to assist UK HSE to remove duplicate provisions in existing legislation and minimize potential confusion by producing a single set of common definitions.

As a result of the consolidation HSE will produce a new suite of overarching guidance identifying the principles of safe and secure operation, supplemented by sub-sector specific guidance.

Subject to the consultation, it is intended that these will replace the Approved Code of Practice (ACOP) for the Manufacture and Storage of Explosives Regulations 2005 and the current explosive guidance.

The consolidation process is one of the recommendations of the review of health and safety undertaken by Professor Ragnar Löfstedt.

Subject to the outcome of the consultation and ministerial approval, the consolidated Regulations will come into effect from October 2014.

Safe Storage of Explosives

Graham Marshall - Monday, April 15, 2013
Workcove NSW has issued a safety alert warning about the safe storage of explosives.
The alert is published following a fatal explosion in NSW.

Deadly Contract - New CSB Video

Graham Marshall - Sunday, February 24, 2013

The U.S. Chemical Safety Board (CSB) has recently released a new safety video entitled “Deadly Contract” which highlights how an explosion and fire that killed five workers during a fireworks disposal operation in Hawaii in 2011 resulted from unsafe disposal practices; insufficient safety requirements for government contractor selection and oversight; and an absence of national guidelines, standards, and regulations for fireworks disposal.

The CSB is also calling for new regulations on the safe disposal of government-confiscated illegally labeled fireworks - a growing problem across the U.S.

The  accident occurred in April 2011, as employees of Donaldson Enterprises, Inc. (DEI) worked in a tunnel-like magazine located in Waipahu, Hawaii.

The storage facility contained government-confiscated illegally labeled fireworks, which the workers had been dismantling under a subcontract to a federal prime contract.

The CSB determined there was an accumulation of a large quantity of explosive components just inside the magazine entrance, creating the essential elements for a mass explosion.

A large explosion and fire fatally injured all five workers inside the magazine.

Another worker, who had been standing outside the magazine entrance door, escaped with injuries.

The CSB investigation found that company personnel had no specific expertise in fireworks disposal, that the company’s procedures were extremely unsafe, and that there are no national standards or accepted good practices for disposing of fireworks.

DEI was awarded the subcontract from a Federal Agency because it was a local company already storing the seized fireworks in the hillside facility, and its proposal was the lowest in cost and considered the most time-efficient.

However, despite DEI’s military ordnance background, the company had no experience with fireworks disposal.

DEI improvised a disposal plan that called for soaking the fireworks in diesel fuel and then burning them at a local shooting range

However, some fireworks were not burning, but exploding.

The company concluded that the diesel was not sufficiently penetrating the aerial shells and thus altered the procedure, disassembling the individual firework tubes and cutting slits in the aerial shells so the diesel could soak into the shells to reduce the explosion hazard during burning.

The process was further altered to speed up destruction of the next batch of confiscated fireworks in early 2011.

Workers were told to separate the black powder from the shells, accumulating them in separate boxes and dramatically increasing the explosion hazard, the CSB found.

The investigation found the company did not adequately analyze the potential hazards created by making these changes to the disposal plan.

Good process safety practice would have called for a thorough hazard analysis as well as a comprehensive review of the potential safety impacts of the proposed change.

JSA Training Program Results

Graham Marshall - Wednesday, February 06, 2013

We've recently completed a JSA training program with 100 workers in an oil field belonging to a new customer.

Our new customer required that we collect feedback from their employees and contractors to allow them to evaluate the success of our JSA training program, prior to a wider roll-out of the program in the field.

Enclosed here is a JSA feedback report which shows how the workers thought about the JSA training program and the comments that they made on their feedback forms.

The name and location of the customer has been removed, but otherwise all results and comments are as they were collected.

We'll let you decide if this group of 100-field workers thought our JSA training program is any good!


Wallop Defence Systems Finded £376,000

Graham Marshall - Monday, December 31, 2012

Wallop Defence Systems Ltd (WDS) has been ordered to pay £376,000 in fines and costs for safety failings that caused a fatal explosion at its Hampshire (UK) factory.

Anthony Sheridan, 37, was killed from injuries sustained in the blast at WDS in June 2006.

Mr Sheridan was emptying one of six industrial ovens used in the manufacture of military flares.

The ovens contained high levels of nitroglycerin (NG) that exploded, causing an explosion that destroyed the factory building.

Several other workers were injured in the incident, with blast debris landing up to 600' away.

Winchester Crown Court heard that WDS had realized in 2004 that their process for curing pellets as part of the production of military flares produced the explosive chemical as a by-product.

An investigation by the UK HSE found that none of the company's senior management team or technical advisers were competent to deal with the NG issue, but did not seek external professional assistance.

Reviewing the company's procedures since NG was discovered in 2004, UK HSE found WDS was not complying with the basics in explosive safety and failed to adhere to licensing requirements for the storage and processing of explosive substances.

Their failure to properly assess and manage the risk put workers and the public in danger.

A second explosion occurred in December 2008 when the company attempted to dismantle the remaining NG contaminated oven on the company's second site.

No one was injured in the explosion.

The court heard that the company failed to engage with the UK HSE and seek competent expert advice on dismantling it and that the incident was entirely foreseeable and avoidable.

WDS was fined a total of £266,000 and ordered to pay £110,000 in costs for three breaches of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974, two relating to the fatal explosion and the other to the second blast.

Speaking after sentencing, Qamar Khan, Principal Inspector for UK HSE's explosives team, said: "Anthony Sheridan suffered horrifying injuries in the explosion that caused his death. "Both this explosion and the subsequent blast in December 2008 were foreseeable and preventable had the company sought and taken appropriate advice and implemented the correct measures. If these steps had been taken Anthony Sheridan would still be alive. "It is especially concerning that despite issues with the factory being reported to senior WDS management, nothing materially changed to safeguard employees and the public. The company deluded itself that everything was OK and in hand. "Companies working with dangerous substances must take extreme care at all times and in all aspects of their operations. That clearly didn't happen here, and the consequences were tragic."

Preventing and Managing Post Blast Fumes Conference

Graham Marshall - Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Technical Conference

Hilton Hotel, Brisbane, QLD

26th - 27th September, 2012

This technical conference will look at the issues surrounding the prevention and management of post blast fume incidents.

A number of case studies from the following industry experts will be shown:

■  Steve Simmons, Anglo American Metallurgical Coal;

■  Grahame Clarke, Manager - Hunter Region, NSW Environment Protection;

■  Gary Cavanough, Principal Research Scientist, CSIRO;

■  Tony Stewart, Drill & Blast Specialist, Thiess Pty Lyd;

■  Evandri Wancik, Principal Drill & Blast Engineer, Thiess Pty Ltd; and

■  Sarma Kanchibotla, Professor, Energy Efficient Mining, University of Queensland.

For further information and free brochure, click here.

Security Risk Substances

Graham Marshall - Sunday, July 29, 2012

The WA Dangerous Goods Safety (Security Risk Substances) Regulations 2007 (the SRS Regulations) came into force following the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) agreement  related to counter-terrorism measures.

The requirements of the SRS Regulations are in addition to the requirements of the other dangerous goods safety regulations.

The following substances, other than Class 1 dangerous goods, are security risk substances (SRS) in
Western Australia:

· Solid mixtures containing more than 45% ammonium nitrate (AN); and

· Ammonium nitrate emulsions, suspensions or gels.

This includes calcium ammonium nitrate (CAN), which is not a dangerous good under the UN classification system.

The SRS licensing system allows only specifically authorized persons to possess SRS and have unsupervised access to them.

Authorized persons are either licence holders or so-called ‘secure employees’ of licence holders.

In order to obtain an SRS licence, a legitimate purpose must be demonstrated, such as:

· Use for manufacture of commercial explosives and non-SRS products such as nitrous oxide;

· Use in laboratories for research, teaching and testing; and

· Fertilizer use by primary producers.

Licences are not issued for household use or fertilization of recreational grounds (e.g. sports grounds, parks, gardens).

Licensed shotfirers and operators of mobile processing units (MPUs; licensed under the Explosives Regulations) do not need to be separately authorized to possess SRS.

Anyone else requires one or more of the following three-year licences to possess or purchase SRS:

· SRS import/export licence;

· SRS manufacture licence (allows associated storage);

· SRS storage licence;

· SRS transport licence;

· SRS supply licence; and

· SRS fertilizer licence (combination licence for transport, storage and use).

SRS manufacture, storage, transport and fertilizer licences require a security plan as a precondition for obtaining the licence.

SRS licences are only issued to applicants in possession of a valid security clearance, as shown by a current dangerous goods security card.

The security clearance process is conducted by the WA Police Service.

It is an offence for an employer or secure employees to allow unsupervised access to SRS by an employee without a security clearance.

Further Guidance can be found by clicking this link.


Graham Marshall - Sunday, July 03, 2011
The US National Fire Protection Association identified that fireworks accounted for over 18,000 out-of-control fires in 2009.

Those fires resulted in $38 million in direct property damage and 30 civilians were injured.

As the the Fourth of July celebrations kick off tomorrow, the message about the danger of fireworks is clear - leave the pyrotechnics to the professionals.

Vendors selling illegally-produced fireworks also face a Class I misdemeanor punishable by up to $2,500 in fines, as well as up to one year in jail.

Keep it safe and enjoy the long-week end.

Failure to Assess Risk Proves Costly for Gold Miner

Graham Marshall - Tuesday, May 03, 2011

The failure to adequately assess risk is not only dangerous but can result in prosecutions leading to significant penalties.

Below is a summary of a recent prosecution occurring in the State of Victoria (Australia) in which an inadequate risk assessment was performed.

The subsequent incident and prosecution resulted in penalties of over $110,000.

Background to the Incident

Fosterville Gold Mine Pty Ltd operates a mine in Victoria, Australia.

On the day of the incident, it was proposed to undertake an explosive blast which was unusual for the mine in a number of ways.

  • Firstly, it was to be bigger than usual blasts at the mine.
  • Secondly, it was to occur mid-shift which had not previously been done at the mine.
  • Thirdly, detonators which had not been used at the mine before were used and which needed special expertise.
  • Fourthly, the explosive charges were to be fired from the brow back into the ore body rather than the normal practice to fire in sequence from the ore body to the brow.


The Incident

After the blast had occurred, re-entry of workers to the underground mine was authorized without the air quality in the mine being properly tested.

Ten miners who returned to work underground were overcome by toxic carbon monoxide gas and collapsed.

The emergency response which followed was inadequate and exposed further workers to the toxic gas.

In total, 10 miners suffered carbon monoxide poisoning to various degrees.

The Prosecution

A Prosecution was brought against the Mine operators under the Victorian OHS Act (Sections 21(1) & 2a).

Specifically that the "employer failed to provide & maintain so far as was practicable for employees a safe working environment - plant & systems of work".

It was found that Fosterville failed to assess risk and plan for the hazards associated with the blast.

Too little attention was given to the effect of the blast on ventilation in the mine or re-entry procedures.

Not enough consideration was given to the risk created by toxic gases traveling to an area where work was being undertaken.

The Court found that the mine did not have a finalized management plan in place regarding ventilation following the blasting activity.

Nor was there a procedure whereby the mine ventilation system was regularly inspected and monitored.

The Company pleaded guilty to the allegations and was fined $110,000 plus $16,564 in court costs.

The lesson to learn here is that it is essential to assess risk associated with "management of change" (MOC).

Working with Explosives

Graham Marshall - Monday, April 25, 2011
Working with explosives can be a high-risk activity if all reasonable precautions are not fully established and actively implemented. 

Below is a series of photographs showing what can happen when explosives are inappropriately handled.

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