[ID] => 8422
[post_author] => 34
[post_date] => 2017-08-30 09:25:15
[post_date_gmt] => 2017-08-30 08:25:15
[post_content] => Dangerous goods professionals in the UK are offered the chance once a year to meet with senior regulators at the Vehicle Certification Agency’s (VCA) Dangerous Goods Seminar, the 32nd edition of which was held in Daventry this past June. But alongside updates on developments in the regulations (HCB
September 2017, page 60) delegates also have the opportunity to hear from speakers representing the enforcement agencies.
Amanda Cockton, HM Inspector of Health and Safety at the Health & Safety Executive’s (HSE) new Chemicals, Explosives and Microbiological Hazards Division – which has taken over from the Hazardous Installations Directorate – explained the structure of dangerous goods enforcement in the UK. HSE has primary responsibility over safety in the workplace, while roadside enforcement is carried out by regional police forces and the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA). The Department for Transport (DfT) has overall responsibility for security issues, while Class 7 matters are left to the Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR) and local trading standards officers cover the sale of goods to domestic consumers.
All enforcement efforts are focused on protecting the public, Cockton said. That means officers will look at the integrity of packaging, tanks and other means of containment, at documentation and training records, and at the roadside in particular on load security, vehicle placarding, package marking and the provision of safety equipment, not least fire extinguishers.
The results of roadside enforcement regularly turn up the same deficiencies: non-compliant road tankers, non-compliant packaging, incorrect labelling of packages and cylinders, leaks from vehicles and packages, and so on. Cockton reminded the audience that all prohibition notices issued by the police, DVSA or DfT under the Carriage of Dangerous Goods etc Regulations (CDG) are published on the HSE website at www.hse.gov.uk/enforce/cdg-notices.htm. That page also has links to other documents that are of use to dutyholders under various regulations.
SAME OLD PROBLEMS
When a vehicle fails an inspection, for whatever reason, it will inevitably disrupt the operator’s business and inconvenience the consignee. However, the quotidian list of non-compliance issues revealed by HSE’s postings largely results only in delays and the cost of rectification.
Cockton illustrated what can happen when something more serious goes wrong, citing the case of a fire in a truck carrying a mixed load, including dangerous goods (zinc phosphate and lithium batteries). The fire started in the wheels but the driver made no attempt to deal with it. The fire spread, causing a series of explosions; the M1 was closed northbound for more than 11 hours. The vehicle was not placarded, raising the level of risk to emergency responders, and it emerged that the driver was not properly trained. The operator was prosecuted in November 2016 and pleaded guilty to a breach of CDG Regulation 5; it was fined £15,000 with £573 costs.
It is rather depressing to see the latest list of non-compliance reports, as the same issues crop up time after time – and most of them would be easy to rectify. Problems with fire extinguishers are always the main issue: either out of date, not fully charged or placed in such a way as to not be easily accessible. This is something that the driver really ought to notice during even the briefest walk-around before setting off from the depot.
A targeted roadside inspection programme carried out in September 2016 involved 232 vehicles, of which 43 were issued with prohibition notices. Alongside fire extinguisher issues, the main deficiencies were found with documentation, with the securement of the load, with the placarding of the vehicle (including the orange-coloured plate), and with the provision of personal protective equipment. Again, these are the sorts of topics that regularly top the list of non-compliance, although it is welcoming to see the absence of issues related to driver training and the carriage of Instructions in Writing.
MORE THAN COMPLIANCE
Cockton ended with a reminder to the audience of some of the specific guidance and assistance that is available on the HSE website. The main landing page for all matters relating to the CDG Regulations can be found at www.hse.gov.uk/cdg/index.htm.
More detail on roadside enforcement statistics was provided by Phil Lapczuk, policy specialist at DVSA. His latest figures show that, of 2,713 vehicles checked, 557 received prohibition notices – a failure rate of 20.5 per cent. Out of a total of 847 infringements, almost 600 fell under three categories: fire extinguishers, documentation and personal protective equipment.
In the documentation category, the main failures were a lack of Instructions in Writing (121 of 183), with the remainder being inadequate Instructions in Writing (23) and a lack of or inappropriate details on the nature and/or quantity of dangerous goods being carried (39). All the non-compliance relating to equipment (207 infringements) involved the non-availability of equipment mentioned in the Instructions in Writing.
Lapczuk had made a similar presentation at the VCA seminar in 2015. At that time the prohibition rate was 20.1 per cent, compared to 20.5 per cent this year; whatever the reasons for non-compliance, current levels of outreach and enforcement are having no effect.
There is, perhaps, a negative mindset among some in the industry, who see compliance as merely a box-ticking exercise, removed from considerations of safety and efficiency, but Lapczuk was keen to put them right. A driver who has been properly trained will drive more safely and work more efficiently than one who has not; he or she will also have a better understanding of risk assessment and management, and also provide better customer service, contributing positively to the carrier’s image.
And a lot of non-compliance could be avoided by better driver training. “Failings in driver walk-around checks account for the most prohibitions and fixed penalties,” Lapczuk said. Such checks are simple and should not disrupt the driver’s day; a driver should undertake a walk-around as a matter of course each time he or she takes over a vehicle.
Lapczuk promised that DVSA would soon be issuing a new enforcement sanctions policy and it was also piloting an ‘Earned Recognition’ concept that will help DVSA target its resources more effectively. “Good practice will be recognised,” he assured the audience.
CLASS 7 DEVELOPMENTS
Cockton had earlier mentioned the role of ONR in the enforcement sphere and its principal inspector for transport issues, Jon Hursthouse, was on hand to report on recent changes at the agency. He reminded the audience that responsibility for radioactive material transport issues was transferred from DfT to HSE in 2011 and that ONR was established as a separate agency shortly afterwards. In its role as the competent authority for the transport of radioactive materials, ONR is responsible for regulatory policy and strategy.
ONR has been concentrating on getting the right personnel in to fill the various positions covering its wide remit. Transport inspectors are currently assigned to their technical specialities but this will be managed over time to give all inspectors expertise over different aspects of ONR’s responsibilities, in order to provide for greater resilience and to promote staff development. From industry’s point of view, that means that names will change so Hursthouse recommended the use of generic email contacts, such as firstname.lastname@example.org for new applications for competent authority approvals.
Hursthouse also reminded the audience that both consignor and carrier have very specific responsibilities under ADR and the CDG Regulations to have in place a written emergency plan to deal with an incident involving radioactive materials. ONR expects that such a plan will cover the protection of the driver and any other vehicle crew, the public, emergency responders and the environment. The plan should be reviewed regularly, revised as necessary and tested.
The specified emergency arrangements come into play when a ‘notifiable event’ is discovered or when the driver has reason to believe that such an event has occurred. A notifiable event is a radiological emergency or initiation, loss or theft of radioactive materials or other event as specified in ADR 18.104.22.168. The driver has a responsibility to inform the police, the consignor and, if appropriate, fire and rescue services. The driver is also responsible for initiating the emergency arrangements and for assisting in the intervention. The carrier and consignor, once informed by the driver, should inform the police and ONR.
ONR carried out more than 100 inspections over the past work year; inspectors assess compliance against 14 titles – of which the emergency plan is one – to allow for better targeting of the inspection and the generation of information that will support a strategy to improve compliance.
Hursthouse provided illustrations of the outcome of some inspections with regard to emergency planning, concluding that dutyholders need to think beyond the driver’s immediate actions. All those involved need to be trained and the plan needs to be tested around once a year. ONR will also be looking at its own performance in the inspection process, informed by feedback it receives from the regulated community.
IN WITH A BANG
There were a number of delegates among the audience at the VCA seminar who are involved in consigning or carrying Class 7 radioactive materials; there were also some involved with Class 1 explosives, though there was little crossover. Both classes have very specific issues that are often beyond the ken of the mainline dangerous goods business but those for Class 1 do have some that are instructive for the rest of the sector.
Phil Smith of HSE’s Explosives Inspectorate began by noting that explosives are unique in the dangerous goods classification system insofar as the way they are packaged or confined can have a dramatic effect on how the explosive behaves – as well as on the way in which the explosive is classified.
For instance, small arms ammunition is assigned to UN 0012 and Division 1.4S; this assumes that in the event of an incident there will be no mass explosion, no impact on firefighting and no heat or violent burning.
However, Smith said, the concept of ‘small arms ammunition’ covers a wide range of items, from .22 rounds containing 1.6 g propellant up to 50 calibre machine gun rounds with 18.8 g propellant. The standard metal container used for ammunition contains the hazard well in the case of smaller ammunition but, Smith said, when tested in the same box 50 calibre rounds displayed behaviour that should see them classified as UN 0328 Division 1.2C.
There are ways, though, to maintain the Division 1.4S classification, using suitable mitigation measures. The addition of ventilated inner boxes in the standard metal container has been shown to reduce the hazard, while some suppliers have also used single sheets of additional steel plate within the standard container.
The other Class 1 articles that may be more familiar to many carriers are fireworks and here too the manner of their packaging has an important role to play in classification. Smith explained the default classification system, introduced to avoid the need for each and every firework to be tested. As per ADR 22.214.171.124.7.2, the assignment of fireworks to UN 0333 to 0336 may be made on the basis of analogy without the need for testing in accordance with Test Series 6.
The less dangerous fireworks are assigned to Division 1.4G and retailers are allowed to store up to 250 kg without a separation distance. However, larger fireworks are assigned to Division 1.3G and retailers may only store 25 kg. These are typically big rockets, which consumers like, and they are expensive, which retailers like, so they would ideally like to be able to store more.
To limit the hazard posed by larger fireworks, a new packaging method has been developed, known as Pyromesh. This involves wrapping the fireworks in a steel mesh of 10 x 10 mm, with steel strapping bands or sliding bolts, all placed into an outer 4G carton. Fireworks tested in this packaging according to the Series 6 test can, if successful, then be assigned to Division 1.4G. This makes them easier to ship, with fewer restrictions on their carriage and storage. However, Smith stressed, that classification only obtains while the fireworks are in the packaging they were tested in – hence the need for some sort of reclosable system.
This all seems a very sensible way of going about the business of protecting the public, responders and others from the hazards posed by explosives in transport. However, Smith said, the competent authority needs to be confident that the goods have been tested in the way that the applicant says they have. Indeed, some recent applications for classification of explosives shipped with mitigation measures have resulted in the particular explosives reverting to their default 1.3 classification.
After showing a video of what can happen when the wrong classification has been assigned, Smith stressed that effective mitigation has to be proved before a classification can be granted. “Just adding extra confinement to keep effects in [the package] can be worse than not having the mitigation there at all,” he concluded.
WHERE NEXT FOR DGSAS?
The one tool that was supposed to have helped raise compliance levels – and a tool that is available to all carriers – is the dangerous goods safety advisor (DGSA), many of whom were in the audience at the VCA seminar. The concept of the DGSA was not the UK’s idea and it was adopted with some reluctance at first. DfT has decided it is time to take a step back and see how the system is working. In particular, as DfT’s John Mairs and Darren Freezor said in a joint presentation, DfT needs to know if the current system for exam preparation is adequate; whether the qualification system is fit for purpose; and whether newly qualified DGSAs are properly equipped to fulfil their roles.
The current review is the first since 2005 when Pira, which was at the time the UK’s competent authority for packaging certification, found that there is no need to approve trainers offering DGSA courses because the examination is set, marked and administered by an independent body, the Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA). That review also confirmed that the DGSA examination should be ‘open book’, using the current edition of RID/ADR, with a minimum overall pass rate of 65 per cent, a level typical of open book examinations in other professions.
The latest review gathered evidence using a questionnaire set to a wide group of stakeholders and interviews with key personnel. It also drew on evidence provided by SQA. The results of the survey were equally balanced on the question of whether training should be compulsory for first-time DGSA candidates, though a big majority felt that training should be optional for experienced DGSAs. A smaller majority felt that trainers should have qualifications, with most respondents thinking that they should themselves be DGSAs. But a big majority thought it not necessary for DGSA candidates to hold a minimum set of academic qualifications.
Three key findings, according to DfT, were that there was no support for the introduction of negative marking for wrong answers; there was little support for the introduction of class- and role-specific modules; and most felt that the examination and the pass mark are appropriately rigorous. For the past four years, the number of candidates achieving the pass mark has hovered around 50 per cent, which suggests that it is tough but, for capable candidates, far from impossible.
DfT also feels that pre-examination training should not be mandatory; a review of recent examinations showed that the proportion of candidates passing the examination varies little between those who have had pre-examination training and those who have not.
DfT was also interested to see what happens to DGSAs after they have qualified and supports the idea of providing newly qualified DGSAs with the relevant information and contacts to help them do their job better. DfT retains its requirement for the examination to be sat again after five years to ensure that DGSAs have kept abreast of regulatory changes but it does not favour the idea of formalising a system of continuous professional development.
Like any good study, DfT’s review has generated recommendations for further work. It wants to undertake additional analysis of the database of questions held by SQA on behalf of DfT, to assess whether the questions adequately cover the scope of a DGSA’s duties. In addition, certain questions may be deemed to be so fundamental to safety that a candidate should only qualify if those questions are answered correctly.
DfT also wants more investigation into the level of demand for specific examinations or modules for particular specialist activities, such as the carriage of radioactive material. DfT has recommended that SQA continue to collect data on whether candidates have attended training prior to sitting the examination. It also wants further work done to increase the level of support given to newly qualified DGSAs. Finally, the Department says it is “minded to consider” the cost implications of requiring trainers to be qualified DGSAs themselves.
More information on the work of VCA in the field of dangerous goods can be found at www.dft.gov.uk/vca/dangerousgoods/dangerous-goods-offi.asp. Information on next year’s VCA Dangerous Goods Seminar will also be available on that page in due course.
[post_title] => VCA: Out to get you
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[post_name] => vca-out-to-get-you
[post_modified] => 2017-08-29 17:29:19
[post_modified_gmt] => 2017-08-29 16:29:19
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