Control of Major Accident Hazards

Regulations L.N. 179/2015 [S.L. 424.19]

The Control of Major accident Hazards (COMAH), Regulations 2015 transpose Directive 2012/18/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 4 July 2012 on the control of major-accident hazards involving dangerous substances (also known as the Seveso III Directive). The COMAH regulations are aimed at preventing major accidents involving large quantities of dangerous substances and to limit the consequences of such accidents for human health and the environment.

The legislation applies to establishments where dangerous substances are present in quantities equal to, or above, a given threshold. The establishments are classified as lower tier or upper tier depending on the quantity of dangerous substances present. These quantities are listed in two tables in Schedule I of the regulations, covering categories of dangerous substances and named substances. The regulations do not apply to certain activities and installations, such as military establishments, landfills, hazards caused by ionising radiation, and the transport of dangerous substances outside the establishments.

These regulations set up a COMAH competent authority (CA) composed of the Occupational Health and Safety Authority (OHSA), the Environment and Resources Authority (ERA) and the Civil Protection Department (CPD). The CA is entrusted with the implementation and enforcement of the regulations and reporting of major accidents, Seveso plants’ information to the EU Commission.

Operators of establishments that fall within the remit of these regulations have a general obligation to take all necessary measures to prevent major accidents, to mitigate their consequences and to take recovery measures. Where dangerous substances are present in establishments above the thresholds, the operator shall notify the CA and provide it with sufficient information to enable it to identify the establishment, the dangerous substances present and the potential dangers. The operator shall also draw up and send to the competent authority a major-accident prevention policy (MAPP) setting out the operator’s overall approach and measures, including appropriate safety management systems, for controlling major-accident hazards.

The operators of upper tier establishments shall demonstrate that all that is necessary has been done to prevent major accidents and provide the competent authority with information in the form of a safety report. That safety report shall contain details of the establishment, the dangerous substances present, the installation or storage facilities, possible major-accident scenarios and risk analysis, prevention and intervention measures and the management systems available, to prevent and reduce the risk of major accidents and to enable the necessary steps to be taken to limit the consequences thereof. For upper tier establishments it is required to establish internal and external emergency plans and procedures and to ensure that those plans are tested and revised as necessary and implemented in the event of a major accident. These operators are also required to provide information to the public as specified in the regulations. All operators are obliged to cooperate with the CA and inform it of significant changes, modifications or closure.

List of establishments which fall under the applicability of the COMAH regulations.

Further information on the Seveso Directive and Major accident hazards flow this link: