Fundamental revision and changes to COMAH rules become effective in April 2010

Published:  22 January, 2010

In 2008 the COMAH Competent Authority (CA) initiated a fundamental review of its approach to regulating onshore major hazards in the UK – the CA has remodelled its key regulatory processes, and will implement a series of changes in April 2010.

Improvements include a better national coordination of the CA’s priorities, improving performance monitoring against existing, and emerging new priorities, and ensuring that the CA continues to focus on the right issues.

Additionally, it is expected that improvements in this area will provide a better view of national performance and improve reporting arrangements to both industry and the public.

Another change will be to the way the CA approaches its interventions, and it is hoped that the changes will deliver a tighter, better paced, shorter, safety report assessment process; and more upfront face-to- face advice and guidance to duty holders as they prepare to submit their safety reports.

Alongside changes to assessment, duty holders will see a step change towards inspection, with increased verification of safety report information on-site; providing duty-holders with better access to CA specialists on the ground.

According to the CA, the improved onsite visibility will enable site operators to get a better handle on what the regulatory priorities are for their site, and what to expect from any subsequent intervention activity.

The COMAH CA sees these changes as very important, in improving external transparency within the regime, providing duty holders with a better insight to the CA’s decision-making processes; understand earlier what is expected from them, and importantly what they in turn can expect from the regulator. All of the changes will allow duty holders to confidently get on with meeting their responsibilities.

Fundamentally, the remodelled COMAH arrangements will provide industry with greater assurance that the CA will continue to take consistent approaches when dealing with broadly similar risks, and that the CA is focussing its resources on the areas of most concern and the industry’s’ poor performers.

 

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