Industrial Incidents

Industrial activities involving dangerous substances have the potential to cause accidents. These include fires, explosions or incidents in which dangerous substances are released. Some of these accidents could cause serious injuries to people or damage to the environment. Major incidents are rare, but they can occur at sites ranging from large petrochemical plants to chemical storage warehouses. If you live close to a hazardous site, you’ll regularly receive information from industries in your area reminding you to ‘Go in. Stay in and Tune in’, should an accident occur.

Most sites are regulated under the Control of Major Accident Hazards (COMAH), which aims to prevent major accidents involving dangerous substances and limit the consequences to people and the environment. These types of sites require a plan to respond to a major accident affecting the site and reduce the impact on the surrounding community.

The COMAH Regulations are enforced by a body called the COMAH Competent Authority. The Competent Authority brings together three separate government bodies, it consists of: Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and Environment Agency (EA) in England and Wales, and the HSE and Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) in Scotland.

Their main aim is to prevent and mitigate the effects of those major incidents involving dangerous substances, such as chlorine, liquefied petroleum gas, explosives and arsenic pentoxide which can cause serious damage, harm to people and damage the environment.

If an Incident Happens

If you hear a warning siren or radio announcement, go into a house or building straight away and do the following;

  • Close all external doors, turn off all ventilation and central heating systems.
  • Close all windows and curtains.
  • Stay in a room furthest away from the industrial area, preferably upstairs.
  • Tune into your local radio station to receive information and instructions.
  • Don’t ring the emergency services unless you have an emergency and need help.
  • Stay indoors until you hear the all clear message (either on the radio or a long single blast of siren) or you receive instructions from the emergency services.

After Evacuation

If an industrial incident is extremely serious, there is a risk you could have to be evacuated. If you do, grab your emergency bag and follow the instructions of the emergency services. When you return, remember the following;

  • Don’t eat any food which was left uncovered.
  • Don’t eat any vegetables from the garden until they have been thoroughly scrubbed and peeled.
  • If any laundry was left outside on the washing line, ensure that you re-wash it.
  • Open all windows and doors to ventilate your home fully for as long as possible, preferably for several hours.
  • Clean all surfaces in your home thoroughly.