Control of Major Accident Hazards: COMAH Regulations

Major industrial accidents involving dangerous substances pose a significant threat to humans and the environment; such accidents can give rise to serious injury to people or serious damage to the environment, both on and off the site of the accident. In Europe, a catastrophic accident in the Italian town of Seveso in 1976 prompted the adoption of legislation on the prevention and control of such accidents.

  • The so-called Seveso-Directive (Directive 82/501/EEC) was subsequently amended in view of the lessons learned from later accidents such as Bhopal, Toulouse or Enschede resulting in the Seveso-II (Directive 96/82/EC).
  • In 2012 the Seveso-III (Directive 2012/18/EU) was adopted taking into account, amongst other factors, the changes in EU legislation on the classification of chemicals and increased rights for citizens to access information and justice.

The Chemicals Act (Control of Major Accident Hazards involving Dangerous Substances) Regulations 2015 (S.I. No. 209 of 2015 ) (the “COMAH Regulations”), implement the Seveso III Directive (2012/18/EU).

  • The purpose of the COMAH Regulations is to lay down rules for the prevention of major accidents involving dangerous substances, and to seek to limit as far as possible the consequences for human health and the environment of such accidents, with the overall objective of providing a high level of protection in a consistent and effective manner.
  • The COMAH Regulations replace the European Communities (Control of Major Accident Hazards Involving Dangerous Substances) Regulations 2006 and the European Union (Control of Major Accident Hazards Involving Dangerous Substances) (Amendment) Regulations 2013, which implemented the Seveso II Directive (96/82/EC).

The intention is to achieve this through tiered controls on the operators of the establishments subject to the regulations – the larger the quantities of dangerous substances present at an establishment, the more onerous the duties on the operator.

More information
Guide to the COMAH Regulations 2015
Timelines and Transitional Arrangements for Existing Establishments

Source: HSA