Research and analysis

Enforcement of regulation in the chemicals industry (COMAH): review

Findings from a Focus on Enforcement review in the chemicals industry relating to the Control of Major Accident Hazards (COMAH).



The Focus on Enforcement project asks the public to help identify where regulation can be improved, reduced or done differently.

This paper examines the effect of regulation imposed on the chemicals industry in relation to COMAH.

The COMAH regulations cover industrial facilities which pose a major potential hazard to the workforce, to neighbouring communities or to the environment due to the quantities and nature of substances they handle. Typically these are highly toxic, flammable, polluting or explosive materials. The regulations cover on-site safety (the workforce) and off-site safety (neighbouring communities).

A diverse range of industrial sectors are covered by the regulations, including:

  • chemical manufacturing and chemical storage sites
  • oil refining and storage
  • gas refining and storage
  • water treatment works
  • explosives and fireworks manufacturing and storage
  • some aspects of the Scotch whisky industry

The review identifies the effect and consequences of current enforcement practice, enabling relevant regulators to be invited to consider and respond. It seeks to identify areas of good practice and areas where regulatory enforcement could be improved.

See also a response and set of proposed reforms from the lead chemicals regulators.

Published 6 February 2013