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Over recent years, Britain has consistently had one of the lowest rates of fatal injuries to workers, with work-related deaths amongst the lowest of all European countries. Britain’s numbers compare well against economic peers Germany, Italy, Spain, France and Poland. But when it comes to workplace safety, it’s a mistake to ever kick back and relax. Because there’s a devil in the detail.

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18 Jul 2016

The Gas Safety (Management) Regulations: keeping it simple

Thor Heyerdahl once said that ‘Progress is man's ability to complicate simplicity’. As a race, we’re often guilty of making stuff difficult, especially when it comes to creating guidance, rules and regulations that are actually meant to help us. But happily, there are some notable exceptions to our drift towards complexity, and the Gas Safety (Management) Regulations are amongst them.

They may not be your first choice of bedtime reading, but the Regulations are there for an important purpose. Whether you view them online or order them in book form, you’re in for an admittedly lengthy read. But despite that, what’s striking after just a couple of pages is their simplicity. There’s no rocket science here: they’re all about common sense, cooperation, addressing issues promptly and a bit of careful filing.

First up, the Regulations be pinned down to four considerations:

  1. The safe management of gas flow through a network, and the responsibility to minimise the risk of a gas supply emergency.
  2. Arrangements for dealing with supply emergencies.
  3. Arrangements for dealing with reported gas escapes and gas incidents.
  4. Gas composition.

These four points are addressed under the following headers:

Duties on persons conveying gas

Anyone conveying gas should have prepared a Safety Case and had it accepted by the Health and Safety Executive. They’ll find everything they need to write a case in Schedule 1 of the Regulations. If any other person is conveying gas in that network, there should be just one network emergency co-ordinator for the network – in order to keep decisions organised and clear. This person should also write a Safety Case and have it accepted by the Executive. They’ll find all the points they need to cover outlined in Schedule 2 of the Regulations.

 

Duty to conform with the Safety Case

This one’s pretty easy. If you’ve written a Safety Case, follow it! Otherwise, you’ll face some very hard questions if anything ever goes wrong.

Co-operation

This one’s common sense. Basically, everyone who is involved with the gas supply in question should cooperate with the person conveying gas, as well as the network emergency coordinator, so that they can carry out their jobs and fulfil the requirements of the Regulations.

Gas escapes and investigations

If a gas escape is detected, the person conveying gas must attend the escape site as soon as practicable and attempt to stop the leak within 12 hours. If they can’t do it within this time frame, they’ll need a robust reason for not being able to. If they know, or even suspect, that gas has entered a premises, they’re responsible for protecting from harm any people that may be affected. If the escape results in a fire or explosion, the person conveying gas must carry out an investigation as soon as possible to establish the reason.

Content and other characteristics of gas

Gas must be of a very specific composition and quality. It shouldn’t be conveyed in the network unless it conforms with the composition requirements outlined at the end of the Regulations, in Schedule 3. There are some exceptions, such as in a supply emergency, and these are explained in full.

Keeping of documents

This one’s filing! Essentially, you must keep a copy of the Safety Case you sent to the Executive. If you review it, you must also send a report to the Executive, and keep a copy yourself. In addition, you must also keep audit reports, and all actions taken in response to audits. These should be kept for three years, and the Safety Case kept for as long as it is current. These documents can be held electronically, as long as they can be printed. Why not get isCompliant (iscompliant.com) to handle this for you? Much easier.


Obviously there’s more to the Regulations, which you can download in full here. But if you’ve got a handle on the main points above, you’ll find no added complications there, and no nasty surprises in store.

Phew. That’s a surprise in itself.