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May 9, 2012

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COMAH regulations enforcement under review

The Government is inviting the chemicals sector to give its views on the way the Control of Major Accident Hazards (COMAH) Regulations are enforced.

Over the next six weeks, the COMAH review – the second area of enforcement under review – will allow businesses involved in chemicals manufacturing or storage to submit their views via the Focus on Enforcement website.

These reviews focus on the way regulation is delivered and compliance is achieved – whether through inspections, advice, or enforcement – rather than the regulations themselves. The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) stresses that this is an important distinction from the Red Tape Challenge initiative, which invites the public, business and the voluntary sector to give their views on which regulations should stay, be improved, or be scrapped altogether.

The review will seek to identify examples of effective, tailored and easy-to-understand guidance for businesses, as well as good regulatory delivery that is risk-based and focused on achieving compliance and supporting business growth.

Commenting on the COMAH review, Business and enterprise minister Mark Prisk said: “‘Focus on Enforcement’ will give businesses in the chemicals sector the chance to make a real difference to the way compliance and protection are achieved on COMAH sites, shaping how companies can best work with regulators in a successful and cost-effective way.

“I want companies in this area of business, and those that advise and assist them, to visit the website to tell us their views and suggest how we might reduce enforcement burdens and share best practice.”

The scope of the chemicals-sector review of enforcement will cover: regulatory activity, in respect of the COMAH Regulations in the chemicals sector; and regulatory activities where the COMAH Regulations have knock-on effects. Sectors that are affected by the COMAH Regulations, other than chemicals manufacturing and storage, are outside the scope of the review.

Welcoming the review, Peter Newport, CEO of the Chemical Business Association, said: “Moving towards smarter enforcement follows naturally from policies designed to develop smarter regulation. We are keen to see the review explore how the burden and costs of regulatory compliance can be reduced.

“We are also keen to see progress towards formal earned recognition for COMAH sites that supplement regulatory requirements through established industry standards – an approach that could deliver significant operational savings, both for business and for the regulatory authorities concerned.”

It is believed that the principle of earned recognition – whereby regulators recognise businesses that are already compliant and thus focus their inspection activities elsewhere – could form part of the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Bill, which was announced in today’s (9 May) Queen’s Speech. The Bill, which covers a broad range of business issues, will extend the Primary Authority scheme, reduce inspection burdens on business, and strengthen the legal framework for sunset clauses on regulation.

The COMAH review runs until 15 June.

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12 years ago

22 comments made by the close on the 15 th June