The Health and Safety Commission (HSC) has formally asked the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and Environment Agency to investigate last week’s incident at the Buncefield oil depot and to make a special report to HSC as soon as possible. Announcing the decision, Bill Callaghan, Chair of the HSC, said: “Earlier today I met members of the local community and businesses around Hemel.

They made clear their concerns that there should be no delay in sharing with industry and communities close to major hazard sites the lessons learnt from this incident. I fully agree. Given the nature of the incident, both on and off-site risks need to be examined. The HSC has made clear the need for the investigation to proceed competently, impartially and without delay and for the conclusions to be made public. “I know that HSE and the Environment Agency are committed to speedily publishing information on matters being scrutinised by the Investigating Board that require immediate attention by the industry and other stakeholders.” HSE and Environment Agency’s terms of reference with regard to this incident are to: · ensure the thorough investigation of the incident, the factors leading up to it, its impact both on and off-site, and to establish its causation including root causes; more …/ Buncefield investigation …/2 · identify and transmit without delay to duty holders and other appropriate recipients any information requiring immediate action to further safety and/or environmental protection in relation to storage and distribution of hydrocarbon fuels; · examine the Health and Safety Executive’s and the Environment Agency’s role in regulating the activities on this site under the COMAH regulations, considering relevant policy guidance and intervention activity; · work closely with all relevant stakeholders, both to keep them informed of progress with the investigation and to contribute relevant expertise to other inquiries that may be established; · make recommendations for future action to ensure the effective management and regulation of major accident risk at COMAH sites. This should include consideration of offsite as well as onsite risks and consider prevention of incidents, preparations for response to incidents, and mitigation of their effects; · produce an initial report for the Health and Safety Commission and the Environment Agency as soon as the main facts have been established. Subject to legal considerations, this report will be made public; · ensure that the relevant notifications are made to the European Commission; and · make the final report public. The investigation will be carried out under the supervision of a board operating in accordance with HSE’s Major Incident Investigation Policy and Procedures. more …/ Buncefield investigation …/3 "The Commission has requested that, in line with current HSE practice, two members of this Board will be independent of HSE. The HSC Chair will approve the membership of the Board." The Commission will publish the special report, pursuant to section 14(5) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974. The Commission has also requested that any information transmitted pursuant to the second indent of the terms of reference above should be made publicly available. Notes to Editor 1 HSC is an independent body of ten people, appointed by the Secretary of State for Department for Work and Pensions, after consultation with organisations representing employers, employees, local authorities and others. HSC’s primary function is to make arrangements to secure the health and safety of workers and the public in the way work activities are conducted; including proposing new law and standards, conducting research and providing information and advice. 2 The Health and Safety Executive is a body of three people appointed by HSC with the Secretary of State’s approval.

 

The Executive advises and assists HSC and has specific statutory responsibilities of its own, notably for enforcing health and safety law. The Executive’s staff of around 4,000 (inspectors, policy advisors, technologists, scientific and medical experts etc.) – is collectively known as HSE. 3 The Commission has exercised a power under Section 14(2)(a) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974, under which it: “may at any time direct the Executive... to investigate and make a special report on any matter.” 4 The Buncefield oil depot is subject to the Control of Major Accident Hazards Regulations 1999 (COMAH) and HSE and the Environment Agency are the joint Competent Authority for these regulations. 5 HSE’s Major Incident Investigation Policy and Procedures can be accessed at: www.hse.gov.uk/enforce/document_g.pdf PUBLIC ENQUIRIES: HSE InfoLine, tel: 0845 345 0055, visit: www.hse.gov.uk/contact or write to: HSE InfoLine, Caerphilly Business Park, Caerphilly CF83 3GG.