New regulations have been brought into force which are bound to present challenges for both the industry and the regulators requiring intuitive solutions to the issues surrounding moving dangerous substances from A to B. The new regulations will provide closer links with United Nations model conditions which are adopted broadly throughout the EU and prevalent across the world, providing opportunities for international transportation from the UK.

The regulation of the carriage of dangerous goods has undergone important changes and the responsibilities of consignor, carrier and owner set out in previous versions of the regulations have been largely swept away. This means that the Regulator is free to investigate any incident involving dangerous goods and prosecute the person who caused the breach, as well as those responsible for that act or omission rather than being confined to the formula laid down in the detailed provisions of the old regulations. This broad approach is a significant change from the traditional way Health and Safety law is written.

THE NEW REGULATIONS

The new regulations consolidate five previous regulations resulting in one all encompassing set of regulations covering all classes of dangerous goods. They also directly reference the new technical annexes of the UN model conditions - international carriage of dangerous goods by rail (RID) and road (ADR). Thus the UN model conditions are referred to directly in UK legislation bringing international law into the domestic arena.

The new regulations further remove some of the additional domestic requirements that were over and above the UN model conditions. These include:

  1. Miscellaneous security requirements for carriage of class 1 goods by rail;
  2. Carriage of class 1 goods in vehicles used to carry passengers for hire or reward;
  3. Carriage of class 1 goods by road in motor vehicles;
  4. Marshalling and formation of trains.

WHAT CHANGES DO YOU NEED TO MAKE?

Organisations transporting dangerous goods need to review their procedures to ensure they are compliant with the new regulations. As part of this process, documents could be futureproofed to align them directly with RID/ADR as the Regulator is looking to consolidate further in 2010 and beyond by simpler direct referencing of RID and ADR.

The documents could also be drafted in a format that would facilitate updates consistent with evolving technical standards. Advance notice of what these evolutions are likely to entail are available from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Working Committees which feed in recommendations to the UN on improved safety and security measures.

HOW CAN INDUSTRY MAKE THE MOST OF THIS OPPORTUNITY?

As a review of existing documents is required, this is also a good opportunity to streamline existing procedures and paperwork to ensure that efficiency savings available from the alignment of cross border legislation are found. The regulatory interface can also be improved by dialogue and agreement on how best to take these advantages forward.