The Dangerous Substances and Explosive Atmospheres Regulations’ (DSEAR)

DSEAR is an acronym used regularly in the world of health and safety to describe a huge business risk – but what does it even mean? How are you meant to know if it applies to your business? DSEAR stands for ‘The Dangerous Substances and Explosive Atmospheres Regulations’ and applies whenever there is work being carried out, a dangerous substance is present and the dangerous substance could be a risk to the safety of people as a result of fires or explosions.

The following are examples of activities covered by DSEAR:

  • storage of petrol as a fuel
  • use of flammable gases, such as acetylene, for welding
  • handling and storage of waste dusts
  • handling and storage of flammable wastes such as fuel oils
  • welding or other ‘hot work’ on tanks and drums that have contained flammable material
  • work that could release naturally occurring flammable substances such as methane in coalmines or at landfill sites
  • storage and display of flammable goods, such as paints
  • filling, storing and handling aerosols with flammable propellants such as LPG
  • transporting flammable substances in containers around a workplace
  • handling, storage and use of gases under pressure
  • handling, storage and use of substances corrosive to metal.

If your business carries out any of the activities above you must act now!

Risk assessment – Before work is carried out, the risks involved in the use of dangerous substances must be assessed. Control measures must then be put in place to eliminate risks or reduce them as far as is reasonably practicable.


Where the risk cannot be eliminated, DSEAR requires control measures to be applied in the following priority order:

  • reduce the quantity of dangerous substances to a minimum
  • avoid or minimise releases of dangerous substances
  • control releases of dangerous substances at source
  • prevent the formation of a dangerous atmosphere
  • collect, contain and remove any releases to a safe place (for example, through ventilation)
  • avoid ignition sources;
  • avoid adverse conditions (for example, exceeding the limits of temperature or control settings) that could lead to danger
  • keep incompatible substances apart


In addition to control measures, DSEAR requires employers to put mitigation measures in place:

  • reducing the number of employees exposed to the risk
  • providing plant that is explosion resistant
  • providing plant that is corrosion resistant
  • providing explosion suppression or explosion relief equipment
  • taking measures to control or minimise the spread of fires or explosions
  • providing suitable personal protective equipment


Emergency plans and procedures – Arrangements must be made to deal with emergencies. These plans and procedures should cover safety drills and suitable communication and warning systems and should be in proportion to the risks.

Training – Employees must be provided with relevant information, instructions and training. This includes the dangerous substances present in the workplace and the risks they present; the findings of the risk assessment and the control measures put in place as a result and emergency procedures.


It is a daunting topic and it may all sound a little over the top for your business but is it? A company that thought just that has recently received a large fine for overlooking such a scenario. A fire started during a chemical dispensing operation in a warehouse. A flammable vapour created during the process came into contact with an ignition source causing the vapour to ignite.

In this case, the operator dropped the can, exited the warehouse and raised the alarm meaning that no one was injured. The fire spread quickly however and destroyed the warehouse. The company was fined £14,000 and ordered to pay £2,377 in costs.

It really highlights the importance of assessing risks associated with flammable atmospheres. Are you confident you have the use of dangerous substances and the risk of fire and explosion in your premises under control?

If we can be of assistance with any health and safety management topic, please get in touch on 01302 341 344.

By Rachel Cuff CMIOSHRisk Consultant

Should you allow employees to record formal meetings?

With the advancement of technology, it is now extremely easy for employees to record conversations in the workplace, either legitimately or covertly. When requested, should you allow an employee to record a formal meeting?

Like anything in business there are advantages and disadvantages. Advantages include:

  • Evidence that you have confidence in your managers handling of the process and that you have ‘nothing to hide’.
  • You have an opportunity to put parameters on which the recording can be used, for example by requesting the employee assign copyright to your company to ensure the recording is not used inappropriately on social media or YouTube.
  • You can control which parts of the hearing are recorded, for example only the main hearing and not private conversation during the adjournment.
  • It may be appropriate for an employer to agree to a recording where the employee is disabled and requests such a recording as a reasonable adjustment to the usual procedure.


Whilst there may be advantages to granting permission for a hearing to be recorded, our advice would be to proceed with caution.


  • Ensure that the employee has stopped the recording at the appropriate time to ensure that any private conversation which takes place during the adjournment are not captured. Where possible managers should carry out their deliberation in a different room or at the very least ensure when the employee leaves the room, they have taken their personal belongings including the recording device with them.
  • Ensure managers are fully trained and have prepared for the disciplinary hearing in advance.
  • Ensure they are comfortable with what is/is not an appropriate comment to make during the adjournment.


If you do decide to allow a hearing to be recorded, then it is important to capture the employee’s agreement to theses parameters in writing so that you have this evidence should the recording be used inappropriately.

If you decide to decline the request, ensure this is explained to the employee at the beginning of the hearing and ask the employee to confirm that he/she understands and is not recording the meeting, ensure this is included in the minutes.  If the employee goes ahead anyway, the business will be able to question the employee’s credibility.

If the employee does covertly record the meeting, then it is at the tribunals discretion if the evidence is admissible. Tribunals will usually accept evidence is admissible if it is relevant to the issues in dispute, has been disclosed in good time and would, if admitted, not breach the Human Rights Act 1998.

Whether you allow a disciplinary hearing to be recorded or not, it is imperative that to protect the business and ensure best practice is followed and that managers are fully trained to carry out formal meetings. If you feel that managers need some additional support or training, ProAktive offer a wide range of packages to support your business.

By Louise Turner Dip Mgmt (Open) Assoc CIPD  –

HR Business Partner



Changes to fire alarm responses from this month.

South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Services (SYFRS) have attended 3,457 call outs to commercial buildings (offices, schools, workshops etc.) over the past three years. They estimate that 97% of these visits turned out to be false alarms. That’s amounted to a colossal waste of their time, over 1000 hours, which could have been more properly spent elsewhere.

Having reviewed the above, SYFRS have announced that from the 6th January 2020, they will no longer automatically attend fire alarms in commercial buildings. They will only attend when a blaze has been confirmed. This brings SYFRS into line with other fire and rescue services throughout the country and also reflects the view of the National Fire Chiefs Council. The only exception to this is that alarms in high risk buildings with sleeping risks, such as hospitals, universities, hotels and high rise flats, will still be responded to without confirmation of a blaze.

So what do you need to do to minimise the risk of a fire in your premises? We would recommend that you work your way down this list to start with:


  • Complete a fire risk assessment of your premisesthis is a legal requirement for all commercial premises under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005. This will identify hazards which require control within your workplace. To make you aware, the definition of commercial premises also extends to houses that you may have rented out if they are classed as Houses of Multiple Occupancy (HMOs). We would strongly recommend that this be undertaken by a trained and competent person.
  • Maintain housekeeping standards in your workplacemake sure that fire escape routes are kept clear. Also make sure that if you separate combustible materials from sources of ignition. Sounds obvious, right? You wouldn’t believe the number of cardboard boxes that we see in electrical cupboards!
  • Make sure that your staff know the emergency procedureit is a legal requirement to undertake an annual fire drill. Even if there’s only two of you! We recommend that you do this every six months as a minimum. It’s 5 minutes out of your day, and the more familiar your staff are with the emergency routes and procedures, the better they will be.


  • Check and maintain fire alarm systems –  if they are maintained properly, then they will give you warning of fire situations. The less false alarms you have, the more likely people are to respond.


  • Check and maintain fire extinguishers fire extinguishers should be serviced annually but you should still do regular checks to ensure that they are where they should be. Do you know what the most common use of a fire extinguisher is? A door stop! If it’s not where you need it, what are you going to do?


If you are worried about any of the above, or want specialist advice, ProAktive employ a number of qualified fire risk assessors who would be happy to assist. Call our team on 01302 341 344.

Driving home for Christmas

Christmas delivery rush, extra loads and winter storms can make for a very challenging and difficult winter for any business operating a fleet of vehicles.

Did you know….

Over 5 years there have been nearly 60 employees killed and 5,000 employees seriously injured in haulage and distribution. 23,000 employees suffered an injury that meant they had to take at least 3 days off work.

Typical Causes…

  • Struck by moving vehicles
  • Falling loads
  • Falls from vehicles
  • Overturning vehicles

With shorter deadlines and higher demand on the run up to Christmas, it is crucial that as a business you are still able to protect your staff and the public as well as fulfilling the job at hand. Here are a few tips to help keep you and your valued staff safe this Christmas:

  • Inspect your vehicle before travel – and record it!
  • Keep your distance – Winter weather needs extra space between vehicles
  • Plan your route – know an alternative route
  • Give yourself enough time – are the deliveries practical with the given time?
  • Severe weather – pull over!
  • Be prepared – bring food supplies, warm clothes and blankets just in case
  • Check twice – if visibility is poor, check, then check again
  • Use your lights & signals – make yourself known to other road users & pedestrians
  • Slow down – rushing is one of the main causes of road accidents. Take your time!
  • Don’t get distracted – radio, phones, and keep food and refreshments for when you are safely stationary

Whilst they may seem the obvious, it is easy to forget in the midst of busy periods. Let’s make sure everyone is home for Christmas!


By Leah KendallAccount Executive



Don’t delay! Apply for Settled Status today, or at least encourage your European workers to do so.

Assuming that the UK leaves the European Union at some point in the future (which is looking more and more likely), EU, EEA and Swiss citizens who currently live and work in the UK will need to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme in order to continue to do so.

Whilst the current deadline is 30th June 2021, there is no reason to delay and every reason to encourage any affected staff and new recruits to apply straight away. Provided they have 5 years continuous residence in the UK, most should achieve Settled Status. Those with less than 5 years residency are likely to be granted Pre-Settled Status and switch to full Settled Status after 5 years.

Talk to your employees who fall into this category and ensure they understand how the Scheme works. They will need proof of identity (passport of ID card) and proof of their permanent address (bank statement/utility bill). The service is free of charge and most people can complete the process in a few minutes via a mobile phone app or on the website. Generally, whilst decisions are made on a case by case basis, they are made quite quickly. Where criminal convictions are declared these decisions will take a bit longer.

Going forward it is likely that EU citizens will be subject to the same regime as non-EU citizens requiring them to obtain permission to enter and remain through some form of a skills-based immigration system. So, if you want to retain your employees fuss-free, it’s worthwhile making sure they are applying now to remain.

By Angela StancerHR Manager and Consultant





HSE to carry out focussed welding inspections in 2020

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) sent out letters confirming that the fabrication and engineering sectors will be subjected to unannounced inspections between January and March 2020.

The inspections will focus on welding fume and required control measures and will examine two main areas:

  • Internal Welding Operations
  • External welding operations

Inspectors will be examining the required control measures in place including Respiratory Protective Equipment (RPE) and Local Exhaust Ventilation (LEV).

Regardless of duration, the HSE will no longer accept any welding undertaken without any suitable exposure control measures in place, as there is no known level of safe exposure.


What do you need to do?

Implement appropriate controls including looking at how you control fumes, as all indoor welding activities will require suitable engineering controls, such as local exhaust ventilation (LEV) and extraction.

Where these alone cannot control the exposure adequately, additional controls should be implemented, such as the use of Respiratory Protective Equipment (RPE) to protect the welder from residual fume.

If welding is done outside, controls will also be needed. RPE should be provided and employees should understand why these controls are in place and how to use the equipment safely. All equipment must also be suitable for the task at hand.


Welding Hierarchy of Control:

  1. Elimination

Redesign the job or eliminate a substance so that the hazard is removed.

  • Design the job so there is less hot work, e.g. Using CAD/3D design techniques.
  • Buy in raw materials with edge profiles already cut.
  • ensure surface coatings are removed prior to welding


  1. Substitution

Replace the metal or welding technique with a less hazardous one.

  • Use a welding technique that produces less fume.
  • For arc welding use the lowest current and voltage applicable.
  • Optimise your shielding gas.


  1. Engineering controls

Use work equipment or other measures to reduce exposure.

  • Use suitable local exhaust ventilation (LEV) to remove the fume at source.
  • Use a turntable to enable welding in a position where the fume rises away from the face (in addition to LEV).


  1. Management and administrative controls

These are all about identifying and implementing the procedures you need to reduce exposure.

  • Introduce a dedicated area for welding.
  • Control access to working area.
  • Minimise the work carried out in enclosed or confined spaces.
  • Implement a maintenance and test regime for LEV systems.


  1. Personal protective equipment

Masks, eye protections, gloves etc.

  • Wear a battery powered respirator with a welding visor or helmet if the fume cannot be controlled in other ways.
  • Ensure other workers in the area are not exposed to the fume.
  • Where respirators are being used ensure that they are properly fitted, used and maintained.


Welding RPE

Where you cannot solely rely on LEV, or when welding outdoors where there is no LEV, you must provide suitable RPE. This can be in the form of a powered air respirator or a supplied air respirator which combines respiratory, eye and face protection, with an APF of at least 20.

For work not expected to exceed one hour, a FFP3 tight-fitting disposable mask or re-usable half-mask with a P3 filter may be adequate to protect against particulates if the wearer is clean shaven, but these particulate filters will not protect workers from welding gases contained in the fume. Note tight-fitting RPE can become uncomfortable to wear, leading to workers loosening or removing the RPE therefore if welding exceeds 1 hour then a powered respirator is recommended.

RPE must be suitable for each wearer. Face fit testing for devices with a tight-fitting face seal will ensure the equipment selected is suitable for each worker.

You should have an RPE management programme which includes:

  • suitable face-fit testing
  • a stock of spare parts for example, batteries and filters
  • clean storage of RPE when not in use
  • compatibility with other personal protective equipment (PPE) you have provided for the task, for example a welding visor


For further advice on this topic or any other area of health and safety management, please get in touch with our H&S Team on 01302 341 344.

By Ken Stevens CMIOSH – Risk Services Manager


12 Days of Insurance

With the holiday season well and truly in swing, make sure your business is prepared with a helping hand from ProAktive!

12 Lights are flickering
It is compulsory that every business must carry out an Electrical Inspection (IEE) for commercial premises at least every 5 years. The inspection is an associated test to check whether the electrical installation is in a satisfactory condition for continued service.

11 Employees shaking
As the temperature drops, if you are considering use of any portable heaters you must ensure that your property damage policy permits these within the premise.

10 Cars colliding
During the festive period roads are more congested, car parks are busier and the roads may be icy. Ensure that all your company’s motor vehicles are insured adequately. Statistically, driving in icy weather conditions increases breaking distance by 10%.

9 Pipes are leaking
Does your office have ‘down time’ over the Christmas period? Prevent your pipes from freezing or bursting while your property is closed. Either set your thermostat system to a minimum of 12 degrees for the full 24 hours or turn off all water supplies from the mains and drain all standing water.

8 People falling

Whether working on site and finishing the new roof, putting the star on the very top of your office Christmas tree or adding some fancy icicles to the frames of your house, make sure the ladder is secure and on a flat surface to prevent any slips or falls.

7 Planes are landing
Heading away for some Christmas sun or coming home to spread the cheer? Business or personal travel insurance should be at the top of your Christmas list!

6 Windscreens cracking
Cold weather can cause cracks in your windscreen or the smaller chips you currently have may worsen during this period. Remain observant and get any small cracks repaired immediately. For any motor claims do make sure you are equipped for the freezing temperatures. Don’t forget your blanket, shovel and breakdown kit.

5 Stolen things
Be extra vigilant at this time of year. Make sure all tools and equipment are removed from the back of your vans. All personal belongings and jewellery should be kept in safes, if specified to, or when away from the home or overnight.

4 Freezers breaking
Christmas time may be your highest peak with stock levels. Would your company survive the Christmas rush if you lost all the fridge and freezer contents? If not, add deterioration of stock to your policy now.

3 Trees collapsing
With the weather being unpredictable during the winter periods, between the heavy snow to the blustery winds, trees can become unstable at the roots. Often the tree is not covered on your insurance, but the damage it has causes will be picked up under your insurance. Check your policy today.

2 Fires burning
While we all love to decorate the office full of Christmas lights and sparkle, carefully read all manufacturer’s manuals as incorrect use can cause a fire to break out. Make sure all plugs are out and turned off at the socket out of business hours.

And a massive office party!!!
Wishing you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year from all at ProAktive!


By Beth Johnson Cert CII Trainee Commercial Account Handler


Vehicle thefts – what types of theft are covered?

In recent months we here have seen a rise in thefts around vehicles, from tools in vans overnight, to valuables on the car seat, to the vehicles themselves. As the cold closes in and the nights last longer, the opportunities for thefts rise. People naturally assume that their motor policies will cover them for these thefts, but policies often won’t respond for a variety of reasons:

Keys in the car

No one likes getting into a cold vehicle first thing in the morning; it may be very tempting to turn the keys in the engine and run the car for five minutes to warm it up while you pop back inside to finish your first coffee of the day.

However – your motor policy will include an exclusion for theft of any vehicle when the keys are in the vehicle whilst unattended. If you leave your car running to warm up, an opportunistic thief will likely take that chance and drive off with your vehicle and insurers won’t look to cover this. That five minutes to avoid the cold can cost you a lot more.

Tools in the van

Studies in 2017 suggested that 4 out of 5 contractors would leave their tools in their vans overnight, which means 4 out of 5 vans are a potential profitable target for thieves. Insurance policies will normally exclude theft from vehicles overnight unless the vehicle is in a garage or secure compound, if not exclude it completely. Leaving tools in vans overnight means you are running the risk of paying for new ones yourself.

If possible, tools should be removed from vehicles overnight. If you are a contractor working on site there will normally be cover for tools left in a secure area of the contract site. Where possible we would always advise to try to keep as many tools as possible on the contract site, as contract works insurance may be less onerous.

Sometimes insurers may look into providing cover when requested. Often this will require some additional security such as slam locks or locked tool boxes fitted to the fabric of the van. However you must tell your insurer if you will be doing this, otherwise cover will be excluded as standard.

Keep it out of sight!

We also see thieves taking opportunities when items are left on view in cars. From money in handbags to laptops thrown on the back seat, at night or in broad daylight. If they can see it they’ll likely break in and take it. Again, insurers won’t look to cover this if you’ve not taken reasonable precautions to safeguard your property.

If you do need to pop into the shops and can’t take your valuables with you, keep them locked out of sight either in the glove box or in the boot. Policies will often stipulate that cover will apply where they have been kept away, but if thieves can’t see anything worth taking they simply aren’t likely to break in.

By Sam Harby Dip CII Commercial Account Handler

The importance of fire risk assessments

A fire risk assessment must always be carried out for the premises that your business operates in. This is a legal requirement that comes under The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005. This, along with your fire evacuation plan, forms the foundations of your business’ fire safety.

What is a fire risk assessment?

In simple terms a fire risk assessment is an assessment of your premises, the activities that take place on there and the likelihood that a fire could start and cause harm to those in or around the premises. It will include the possible sources of ignition, fuel, current firefighting provision and the ability of those inside to escape from their workplace safely. Once this has been done, it will, if done correctly, highlight what improvements are required to your current fire safety procedures.

Fire risk assessments are often overlooked by businesses, leading to employees being put under unnecessary risk because they are unaware of the danger and hazards surrounding fire safety and what they should do in the event of a fire.

Rule number 1.

It must be reviewed regularly. It is recommended that the review is carried out every twelve months from the date of the original assessment, with a full, brand new assessment being carried out every five years. If the layout, purpose of the building or if the nature of the occupants has changed substantially, a new assessment would also be required. This is because changes to the fabric or use of the building can alter any fire safety measures currently in place.

Rule Number 2.

You must keep a written record of your fire risk assessment if your business has 5 or more people. We would always recommend having a written fire risk assessment no matter how many employees you have. There are a couple of exceptions in which a fire risk assessment MUST be written down, even if there are less than five people. These are if the premises requires a licence or if the fire brigade have instructed you to do so following a visit.

Rule Number 3.

The Fire Risk Assessment MUST record the main findings and any actions that are required following the inspection and assessment. The first part of the fire risk assessment is the review itself, and this will assess the fire safety of the premises against a number of specific points. The second part takes the form of a list of recommendations. It is vitally important to act upon the recommendations you are given for your building because this is ultimately what will keep you, your employees and your business safe.

If you do not have a fire risk assessment carried out for your building or don’t follow any recommendations made and put these into place, the penalty could be severe fines or in extreme cases of negligence, a custodial sentence.

Is your business safe?

If you would like further advice, please contact our Health and Safety Team on 01302 341 344.


By Aaron MoxamRisk Services Assistant

Are you really covered for flood?

As the dark nights draw in and the golf clubs are stored away for winter, we are already feeling the cold and getting used to the rainy days. Many of us will remember the floods in June 2007 which caused huge problems and hard work for businesses across the region and were of course very costly for insurers, but are you prepared in case it happens again?

Our Broking Director, Beverley Brown, has worked extremely closely with insurers to explain where work on flood defences has been carried out in order to improve the offering of flood cover by insurers, particularly in Sheffield’s Lower Don Valley. Following this work, Insurers are more willing to accept risks in areas which previously suffered flood losses, usually with a higher excess, although unfortunately that is not necessarily the case for everyone, particularly for businesses still seen to be in ‘black’ flood zones. These zones used by insurers do not only refer to flooding from the rivers but also surface water flooding which we are seeing more often due to the heavy downpours we are experiencing.

For those with flood cover, you may assume that in the case of an actual flood, insurers will automatically pay your claim. You do however have to be aware of several conditions you must comply with or exclusions to be aware of if you do require a policy to respond and I strongly recommend you check or ask your broker for advice.

A couple of examples that are included in most of the standard property or combined policies are as follows:

If you have a lot of stock stored at one of your premises there is usually a condition called ‘Stillage Condition’ which requires the business to raise stock a certain height off the ground.

Another example is that many standard property policies exclude damage by flood to fences, gates and possibly most importantly, moveable items in the open. There may be others that are relevant to your business and it is important to make sure you know what you are covered for.

For those without flood cover, it is difficult to obtain cover without moving to a lower rated insurer which could mean your whole portfolio may suffer. However, it is important to ask your insurer if they will consider cover with a much higher excess, as in some circumstances it is possible to purchase separate insurance cover for the flood excess you have accepted. Otherwise, risk management within your business is important and consideration of which floor your server room or electrical items are stored, for example, can help limit the impact of any damage.

To speak to us about flood cover for your business, you can call 01302 341 344 or 0114 243 9914.

By Rachel Storey Dip CIIAccount Executive