Memorandum submitted by the Chemical Industries
1. The Chemical Industries Association (CIA)
membership comprises 140 chemical businesses and over 20 service-provider
companies to those chemical businesses, across the length and
breadth of the UK. We are the local, national and international
voice of chemical businesses in the UK.
UK CHEMICAL INDUSTRY
2. Chemical businesses in the UK employ
nearly 190,000 people. Many other hundreds of thousands of British
jobs depend on the UK chemical sector. The chemicals sector has
an annual turnover of £50 billion and in the last year our
trade surplus was £6.5 billion.
3. In membership we have 130 sites that
come under Control of Major Accident Hazard (COMAH) regulations.
Just over two-thirds of these sites are classed as top-tier COMAH
4. Manufacturing, handling and supplying
chemicals comes with responsibilities. The UK chemical industry
has a good record of health and safety amongst its EU counterparts,
and safety remains a top priority.
5. The CIA works closely with its members
on health and safety. Our role includes monitoring and reporting
performance, identifying emerging issues, spreading good practice,
providing practical support to companies, working with regulators
to develop initiatives such as the Chlorine Covenant and Regulation
and Recognition Project, and work on new process safety leadership
initiatives that result from what has been learnt from incidents
in the oil and fuels sector such those as Buncefield and Texas
6. Our aim is to ensure that our members'
operations and products do not pose unacceptable risks to their
workforce, people living or working near chemical sites, and the
general public who are using chemical products every day.
7. A summary of our key issues include:
The CIA welcomes the positive
approach the HSE takes on key areas of controlling major hazard
risks in the chemical industry, which is beneficial to all parties.
We also support and endorse the trend in the major hazards sector
towards improved engagement with stakeholders and better recognition
of the views of industry in the formulation of operational policy.
Based on our representation
of members nationally we feel there is a need for better consistency
in the implementation and enforcement of HSE's policies and procedures
across the UK. We would also like to see HSE's inspection and
enforcement policies recognising good performance, resulting appropriate
benefits for companies that can demonstrate good and improving
management of risks. Equally we recognise, and accept fully, that
this should result in increased attention directed towards poor
The health and well-being of
employees in the chemical industry is one of the core aspects
of the industry's Responsible Care initiative. We support the
guidance approach adopted by the HSE in tackling occupational
The HSE performs a vital role
and must be a priority for government budget decisions to ensure
that it is properly funded to be able to discharge its role effectively.
Going forward, we would like to see more consultation with industry
before radical changes to the way in which it is funded are made.
Furthermore, in terms of cost recovery from industry as an element
of HSE funding we would like to see a wide-ranging review of charging
to ensure a fairer spread of costs across all industry based on
risk and performance.
8. The CIA welcomes the positive working
relationship with HSE on key areas of controlling major hazard
risks in the chemical industry, which is beneficial to both organisations.
This has been in evidence for several years, and led for example
to the publication of jointly endorsed guidance on Developing
Process Safety Indicators in 2006 and which is currently a
cornerstone of managing major hazard risks.
9. We also welcome the current examples
of good engagement of, and cooperative working between, HSE and
industry, for example cross-cutting groups such as the Process
Safety Leadership Group which has developed from the investigation
into the Buncefield major accident. We support the current trend
of looking at the causes of major incidents worldwide and applying
the lessons to UK industryfor example the Baker Report
into the fatal explosion and fires at the BP Texas City plant
and its emphasis on Leadership and monitoring Process Safety Indicators
as key factors in preventing major incidents.
10. CIA supports the guidance approach (as
opposed to further extension of legal duties) to maintaining the
highest standards of director involvement in the management of
major hazard risks. This is exemplified in the HSC / Institute
of Directors publication Leading Health and Safety at Work
produced in October 2007. We endorse this approach that clearly
sets out the responsibilities and key actions, but would not support
further legalisation beyond the existing legal framework provided
by the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 and the Control of Major
Accident Hazards (COMAH Regulations 1999).
11. Strategically, for the HSE to deliver
effective control of major hazard risks whilst enabling the UK
chemicals industry to be competitive, we consider it necessary
for HSE policy objectives to reflect these key points:
We appreciate and support the
need to ensure and maintain high standards of control of major
hazard installations. However, this aspiration needs to be carefully
balanced against the potential cost to industry. A risk-based
approach should be adopted that requires the highest standards
for "new build" plant but recognises the cost implications
of upgrading older plants. Where a risk assessment shows upgrades
in standards at plants to be necessary or desirable, industry
must be given a realistic and pragmatic timescale in which to
plan for and implement such improvements.
HSE should continue to offer
more diverse methods of working with stakeholders, including industry,
in order to achieve best practice standards in the major hazards
sectors. This should go beyond simple consultation, and should
include initiatives such as partnership and cross-group working
to define and apply standards. There are good current examples
of this, such as the successful joint development of the Chlorine
Covenant between CIA, the regulators, and industry storing large
quantities of liquid chlorine. The Covenant aims to raise safety
standards for this very high hazard chemical from the basic legal
minimum to "best practice", and aims to do so on a cooperative
and shared basis over future years.
HSE should ensure that its structures,
allocation of resources, policies, and its procedures support
and enhance consistency of enforcement and implementation of standards
12. At the time of sending this written
submission to the Select Committee, the CIA is awaiting the results
of the consultation that closed in July 2007 (CD212, Proposals
for revised policies to address societal risk around onshore non-nuclear
major hazard installations). Without the benefit of having
seen these outcomes it is difficult to comment here on what will
surely be a fairly fundamental issue in terms of control of developments
near major hazard installations in future years. CIA submitted
a substantial response to this CD, and while it is not feasible
to repeat this as part of this submission to the select committee,
we feel that the following key issues merit brief reference:
The CIA supports the use of
societal risk consideration in the determination of development
proposals near appropriate major hazard installations. The earlier
that advice can be sought and obtained from HSE the better, including
at the development stage.
However, as a general principle,
it should not be the site operator who bears the cost of any additional
risk reduction measures for increases in societal risks generated
that are entirely outside their control and benefit; it is not
industry which is responsible for developments that bring large
numbers of the public closer to the source of risk.
Whilst the CIA supports the
use of societal risk consideration, the issue of consistency of
approach with other European countries to which the Seveso Directive
applies for the control of major hazard risks needs to be addressed
so that UK is not put at a competitive disadvantage.
13. The health and well-being of employees
in the chemical industry is one of the core aspects of the industry's
Responsible Care initiativethis aims to continuously improve
all aspects of health, safety and environmental performance. Through
this initiative, the CIA fully supports the HSC's Fit3 programme
Fit for Work, Fit for Life, Fit for Tomorrow and the work
done by the HSE in its implementation. This is demonstrated through
our active engagement in bilateral meetings with the HSE, contributions
to consultations and stakeholder workshops, and participation
on the Asthma Partnership Board. The CIA welcomes the positive
working relationship with HSE on key areas of controlling occupational
health risks in the chemical industry.
14. We support the guidance approach adopted
by the HSE in tackling occupational health issues and believe
the solution to meeting the PSA targets for ill-health and consequent
days lost per worker lies with ensuring employees conform better
and more consistently to both existing Codes of Practice and Regulations;
this applies to all industry sectors working with chemicals. Establishment
of new regulations, or in the case of chemicals new workplace
exposure limits, is unlikely to achieve effective results.
15. The CIA promotes good practice in our
member companies by raising awareness of occupational health issues
as well as also providing support. We hope due to these good practices
that our own sustainable devlopment occupational health goal,
to reduce the number of work-related reportable diseases, will
continue to remain on track to reaching a target of 30% reduction
by 2010 (relative to year 2000).
16. We note from the HSE Statistics 2006-07
report, that the majority of newly reported ill-health cases were
attributable to stress or musculoskeletal disorders. These are
just as applicable to the chemical industry sector as are health
problems resulting from exposure to chemicals. Again we support
the HSE's work in looking at ways to address these specific issues
and encourage a partnership approach as the best way forward to
promoting good practice within the chemical industry sector.
17. Given the vital role of the HSE it is
important that they have adequate financial settlements from Government
and we are concerned by the likely cuts to their budget.
18. We have recently been in discussion
with HSE regarding their intention to increase charges to COMAH
sites by 32% in April 2008 and to charge for non-COMAH activity
at COMAH sites. Whilst we acknowledge their requirement to make
up a funding shortfall we do feel that there has not been:
due consideration of the impact
of the price hike on SMEs;
enough notification to business
to allow for budget planning;
sufficient analysis and understanding
of the extent of the increased costs;
consideration of the impact
they will have on the value added work between industry and the
guarantees that any increase
in COMAH activity will be health and safety driven, and not by
the need to raise revenue.
19. Going forward we would like to see more
consultation with industry before radical changes to charges are
made. We would like to see a wide ranging review of charging to
ensure a fairer spread of costs across all industry based on risk
Chemical Industries Association