The HSE has this week announced a new consultation (consultation CD256) to consolidate and modernise explosives legislation.

The explosives sector comprises a large number of diverse sub-sectors and regulation is overseen by various bodies. As a result, the current legislative framework is complex: with sub-sectors often dealt with in isolation rather than as part of a broader, coherent framework. This, the consultation recognises, has led to “overlapping legal duties and divergent legal definitions at both UK and International level”. The aim is therefore to combine existing legislation into a single set of modern regulations.

The Explosives Regulations 2014 will therefore consolidate one Act, ten pieces of secondary legislation and fifteen exemption certificates. The HSE will also be looking to amend the relevant supporting framework alongside the legislative changes: replacing existing guidance with documents indentifying principles of safe and secure operation (supported by sub-sector specific guidance).

These changes are intended to make the existing legislation more accessible and provide legal clarity for businesses; rather than introduce material changes to substantive health, safety and security requirements. At the same time however, where it is viewed there are opportunities to reduce burdens, or where greater control is required, new requirements have been proposed.

Some of the main proposals include:

  • Repeal of the remaining provisions of the Fireworks Act 1951.
  • Provisions to enable licenses from Local Authorities to be granted for up to 5 years, aligning them with similar HSE and Policy issued licenses.
  • Alignment of the regulation of the storage of Ammonium Nitrate Blasting Intermediate (ANBI), extending the licensing arrangements in place for manufacture to cover storage.
  • Consolidation of Registration and Licensing functions into a single system. Primarily, incorporation of the registration scheme under the Manufacture and Storage of Explosives Regulations 2005 within the proposed licensing arrangements for the storage of explosives.
  • Withdrawal of the Approved Code of Practice (ACOP) to the Manufacture and Storage of Explosives Regulations 2005. To be replaced with an over-arching principles document, supported by stakeholder led and developed sub-sector guidance.

The 2014 Regulations will also effect various ‘tidy-up’ changes, such as: to incorporate EU derived provisions, and align provisions and definitions where appropriate; the introduction of goal-setting legislation to replace s.23 of the Explosives Act 1875 and the 11th Order of the Secretary of State to the Explosives Act 1875; and to update/incorporate the provisions of Schedule 1 to the Control of Explosives Regulations 1991.

As with many ongoing consultations on existing health and safety legislation, the proposals stem from Professor Löfstedt’s recommendations – in his 2011 report ‘reclaiming health and safety for all: an independent review of health and safety legislation’ – which are to be delivered by April 2015.

The consultation opened on 30 July 2013 and will run until 24 September 2013.

To access the consultation paper, please click here.