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January 2007

The 17th of February 2007 will see the publication by the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) of new guidance on the disposal of explosives. This document entitled "Guidance for the Safe Management of the Disposal of Explosives" will replace the current industry standard "Disposal of explosives waste CS23" published by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).

The guidance has been produced by a working group of the Explosives Industry Forum (EIF), a tripartite body made up of the HSE's Explosives Inspectorate, Industry representatives and the UK's Ministry of Defence (MoD). Its work has also been supported by the wider industry, the Department of Environment Food and Rural Affairs, the Environment Agency and Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service.

The guidance is is aimed at those responsible for the management of the disposal and destruction of explosives and the planning and implementation of disposal activities at licensed explosives sites as well as their advisors. It is also aimed at professional explosives users such as firework display operators, demolition operators and shot firers.

The guidance will be of interest to regulatory authorities and emergency services such as the Police, Fire Brigades and Local Authority Trading Standards Officers particularly when those authorities fulfil a regulatory role under the Manufacture and Storage of Explosives Regulations 2005. This guidance may also be of interest to other Government or Regulatory Agencies such as the Coastguard as well as Waste Disposal Operators who may be called upon to manage waste explosives and explosives contaminated waste as part of their work activities.

Ian McIntosh, Chair of the CBI's Explosives Industry Group (CBI-EIG) said "Waste explosives continue to be one of the major causes of accidents in the explosives industry. This guidance is a timely reminder to the industry of the importance of controlling the risks associated with the generation, transport, storage and destruction of explosives requiring disposal".

Martyn Sime, HSE's member of the working group, welcomed the opportunity to work in partnership with other organisations and said "The new guidance seeks to build on the obvious strengths of the previous guidance as they related to the destruction of explosives, it does however take a broader, through-life approach. The new guidance reflects changes in the make-up of the industry by providing more specific guidance on explosives that present a projected hazard such as fireworks, and also reflects changes in legislation such as the introduction of the Manufacture and Storage of Explosives Regulations 2005 (MSER) as well as developments in environmental legislation. There is an increased emphasis within the guidance on understanding the properties of explosives requiring disposal, on risk assessment and on the systematic management of safety."

Dave Colclough of the BAE Systems site at Radway Green said "We have already been using this broader through-life approach to the generation and storage of waste explosives for some time. The first activity of our project team, made up of people from across the business, was to identify all the processes that generate waste explosives, to consider any potential for accumulation of waste materials and to make sure that a waste stream was in place to deal with them. Following our analysis we have redesigned equipment and revised our processes. This has resulted in a 90% reduction in the unit risk to our operators and technicians who work with waste explosives."

He went on to say that "As a spin-off we have not only improved the safety culture on site but have also substantially reduced the amount of waste explosives that we generate by introducing engineering changes to reduce tolerances which optimise tool clearances and designs to keep spillages to a minimum. A review of propellant handling & distribution resulted in design modifications which have also reduced spillages. There is also evidence to show that increased understanding of the risks associated with the disposal of waste explosives has improved the quality of our products by segregating waste at all stages of production from raw material receipt to proof testing and packing of the finished product thus reducing the possibilities of contamination.

Copies of the new guidance can be obtained from Brig. Charles Smith GM, General Secretary CBI EIG at CBI, Centre Point, 103 New Oxford Street, London, WC1A 1DU.

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