Welcome to another newsletter update from NCEC. I hope those of you coming back to work had a restful and enjoyable holiday.
Thankfully, the Mayans were wrong and I’m pleased to report work has continued as normal at NCEC over the holiday period. I’m sure you will spare a thought for our Emergency Responders hard at work on Christmas Day. While our telephone lines, predictably, fell quiet with the reduction in chemical use and transport across Europe during the festive season, we still have a few interesting calls to report.
Featured in this issue are details of an exercise at East Midlands Airport and updates on the European Agreement concerning the International Carriage of Dangerous Goods by Road (ADR). We also report on our visit to IFSEC & OSH Arabia and look forward (somewhat closer to home) to our own exciting Hazmat 2013 event and the 2013 British Association of Dangerous Goods Professionals (BADGP) seminar on 21 March, which we’re proud to support.
Dan Haggarty, Director
It seems like only yesterday that we were celebrating Chemdata’s 25th anniversary, and here we are, 5 years later, about to celebrate 30 years of providing fire and other emergency services across the world with clear and concise information on substances and chemical names.
Over the years, Chemdata has developed to meet the changing needs of its users and keep up to date with technological advances. We have made Chemdata available for many different operating systems, from the early disk operating system (DOS) to the very latest tablet and smartphone platforms. We are sure that some of you still remember us sending out the 18 floppy disks that early versions of Chemdata required. If we were still using floppy disks, Chemdata would now fill 782! Fortunately, technology has moved on and users can now download the Chemdata installation CD as an ‘image’ directly from our secure customer portal. This ensures that the latest version is always available and there are no more lost disks in the post.
In terms of content, our aim, as always, is to provide easy-to-understand information in a simple, searchable format that is relevant to emergency services. The information available has grown over the years from the basic hazards and precautions to the more recently added Acute Exposure Guideline Levels (AEGLs). We aim to respond to reasonable requests from our users for additional data fields.
In terms of functionality, we aim to provide users with a simple system that meets their needs. Our most recent development, issued in the 2012.2 release of Chemdata, has been an improvement to our Private Notes facility that allows users to add their own notes to individual documents. Users now have the ability to share one Private Notes database across their whole organisation via our secure server. This can help people benefit from their colleagues’ insights and allow organisations to integrate Chemdata with their own procedures.
For more information about Chemdata or to request a free trial of the software, please visit our website.
The changes to ADR for 2013 have been published and some of these are summarised below.
The 2012.2 release of Chemdata will incorporate the ADR 2013 changes.
A personal view by Dr Andy Holton – Chairman, BADGP, and Director of Hazand Ltd
In mid-2010, a disgruntled group from industry and Government, meeting at the offices of the UK Department for Transport (DfT), agreed that British dangerous goods safety advisers (DGSAs) had no meaningful support once they had passed their exam. They knew that many employers provided scant resources to DGSAs who, once they had qualified, were, on the one hand, viewed as ‘experts’ while, on the other hand, were expected to maintain that status without support or refresher training.
Many had simmered slowly at this state of affairs, but nothing was done until a consultant (Desmond Waight) called a meeting at the NCEC in July 2010. A dozen people, far fewer than the number of original complainers, turned up and formed the BADGP. Deeds, it appears, continue to be in shorter supply than words.
BADGP is a professional organisation in the field of dangerous goods and supports professional people, not companies. Of course, such support is valued by employers and they normally pay the member’s fee, currently £60 per year.
The group forming BADGP’s first committee immediately extended the remit in two significant ways:
1. BADGP should represent all modes of transport, not just road.
2. BADGP should welcome members from outside the UK.
BADGP offers its members a number of benefits:
On Thursday 21 March, at the Sedgebrook Hall Hotel near Northampton, BADGP will hold its AGM and seminar. The seminar takes most of the day, and is devoted to addressing the updates of the laws and codes of the main transport modes.
On show will be heavyweight speakers from DfT (Jeff Hart), Civil Aviation Authority (Ross McLachlan), Maritime and Coastguard Agency (Keith Bradley) and representatives from other bodies. They will tell us how the recent changes are rolling out and what the future has in store for industry. It promises to be a most rewarding day. Details are available on the BADGP website (badgp.org).
If you are reading this NCEC newsletter, you are, de facto, interested in emergency response. What’s that got to do with BADGP? I put it to you that any fully effective DGSA (or equivalent in other modes) will have made their mark by ensuring that systems are in place to reduce incidents dramatically. It’s about safety. That’s why BADGP supports dangerous goods professionals.
Recently, a number of emergency response customers have come to us questioning their use of the right emergency numbers on safety data sheets (SDS) to cover their global operations. Here are some important things to remember:
NCEC has a suite of over 40 numbers covering countries, regions and languages. It is important to ensure that you use the correct geographical numbers or your customers might get a response they don’t understand. For example, using our dedicated French telephone number worldwide without supplying alternatives might lead customers to hang up when they hear our introductory message in French. If you are in any doubt, please contact the team to ensure you have access to the appropriate numbers for your contract. If you’ve expanded your operations or are likely to in the future, please contact us so we can ensure you have the right level of cover.
Lithium battery regulation changes
This month we have had an increasing number of calls related to the transportation of lithium batteries via air.
Many of these are the result of new the regulations, which particularly affect the packaging of lithium batteries that were brought in by ICAO on the 1st of January 2013.
The major changes summarised by the regulators are;
A summary of the changes to the regulations can be found here.
Details of the new Packing Instructions can be found here.
Further guidance on the transport of lithium batteries can be found here.
We have also provided a short briefing document which can be found on our website here that indicates the changes to the Packing Instructions.
We would be happy to answer any questions you may have or provide increased coverage for those transporting batteries if required.
We want to say a big thank you to all our customers who have sent back their novation agreements over the last few weeks. The end of the year was an interesting one as we set up the new Ricardo-AEA business. As we hope you’re all aware, on the 8 November 2012, Ricardo plc bought the European business of AEA Technology plc of which NCEC was part. The NCEC team is delighted to be part of the new Ricardo-AEA business. Our new owners have agreed on some new investments we are very excited about – we’ll let you know more about this in future newsletters. The important things to remember are:
Finally, a thank you to all those customers who extended their congratulations to us on hearing the news in November and December.
NCEC plays a key role in East Midlands Airport exercise
On 6 November 2012, NCEC played a part in an exercise at East Midlands Airport that tested the response to a chemical incident and highlighted our pivotal role in supporting public and private organisations when confronted with chemical incidents.
The aim of the exercise was to validate the emergency response procedures for an incident involving dangerous goods that results in a requirement for chemical emergency advice and decontamination of individuals.
Despite the cold weather, the exercise went well. It demonstrated how a seemingly small chemical spill can escalate into a large-scale incident involving a wide range of departments and agencies, and how access to fast and accurate chemical advice is crucial.
Exercises like this highlight the value in ensuring ALL organisations regularly test and review their emergency plans and procedures, enabling them to evaluate the effectiveness of:
This can save vital seconds when an incident does happen.
A package at a freight company broke open and its contents caused a number of staff and first aiders to become unconscious or have breathing difficulties. The freight operator called the Airport’s emergency line and the emergency services were mobilised.
The package was marked as containing photographic materials and had no hazard symbols. Some members of staff had severe burns on their arms and hands, and 25 others were evacuated from the area. The shipper of the package was contacted and confirmed that the substance was hydroxylamine hydrochloride. The shipper was unaware of the regulations regarding this substance.
NCEC was called to provide immediate emergency response advice on the chemical in question and guidance to minimise further risk to people and the environment.
Following NCEC’s expert advice, the emergency services began decontaminating the victims and staff involved.
This exercise highlights how a seemingly innocuous package can become the focus of a life-threatening incident requiring urgent chemical advice, incident management across a number of different emergency response services, and immediate risk mitigation to people and the environment.
The exercise demonstrates how NCEC is pivotal in providing chemical emergency response advice and able to liaise with several agencies when a chemical incident occurs.
The following organisations were involved in the exercise:
All NCEC Emergency Responders complete a comprehensive, bespoke training programme, with practical exercises used wherever possible to ensure they have the knowledge and skills required to perform their challenging job.
In December, as part of this training, three people from NCEC arrived at the West Midlands Fire Service Academy (WMFSA), having been invited to attend the firefighting experience day. The aim of the day was to give them an appreciation of the types of incident that firefighters face and how NCEC’s services can help fire and rescue services when dealing with an emergency situation.
The day started with an explanation on the practices the fire service employ when attending a chemical incident. This was followed by learning how to use fire extinguishers, hands-on experience in putting out fires and demonstrations of the effects of using the wrong type of extinguisher. This showed just how scary even a small fire could be, gave some idea of the bravery shown by firefighters when attending larger events and provided the NCEC staff with vital information that will be useful when advising firefighters who are dealing with small fires.
The afternoon session involved wearing full breathing apparatus and being led into a burning building. This demonstrated just how heavy the apparatus was, and how difficult it is to move around and perform anything delicate or dexterous. It also demonstrated how terrifying the heat and smoke from the fire can be, and how this feeling is compounded by the claustrophobic nature of the breathing apparatus.
All three people gained a greater understanding of the situations that can arise when tackling a fire and the difficulties that firefighters face when dealing with incidents.
In December, NCEC exhibited at the IFSEC & OSH Arabia show in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. This event enabled us to meet members of the Saudi Civil Defence as well as senior fire and HSE officers representing key Saudi Arabian producers and users of chemicals.
Our presence in Saudi Arabia came shortly after a tragic reminder of the dangers associated with the transportation of fuels and chemicals – a tanker carrying LPG struck a bridge in Riyadh and the explosion from the subsequent gas leak resulted in a significant loss of life and destruction of property.
Through our conversations with the visitors to our stand, we gained a valuable understanding of the chemical risk and compliance issues that are of particular concern to Saudi Arabian organisations – the need to comply with international regulations being the primary challenge for companies exporting to Europe and Asia.
We were certainly encouraged by the considerable interest that was shown in all our products and services. Indeed, visitors were fascinated to discover that we already serve a worldwide client base and are able to answer emergency calls and author SDS in Arabic.
We are also pleased to see Saudi Arabian and other Gulf Petrochemicals & Chemicals Association member companies joining the International Council of Chemical Associations’ Responsible Care programme and acknowledging that the provision of a dedicated 24-hour emergency response line would be consistent with the aims of this industry initiative.
We are now looking forward to making a follow-up visit to Saudi Arabia to further the dialogue with our new contacts.
Following Emergency Response Best Practice presentations that we delivered at recent events (e.g. the National Safety Council Congress and Expo in the United states and Turkchem 2012 in Turkey) and requests from several customers to present to their teams about the Carechem service, we have created a hybrid presentation to help our customers understand more about what we do and why we do it. We will be delivering the presentations in a series of webinars that will run be ran in March. We do hope you will join us for one of the sessions to refresh yourself on how the Carechem service works. To register your interest please email Jonathan Gibbard, stating which session you would like to attend and we will send you an invitation and further information shortly. Dates and times as follows:
A fire service station manager called NCEC for advice about a fire involving a number of lithium polymer batteries that were exploding and giving off noxious smoke.
Our Emergency Responder advised the caller that the primary hazard with this type of battery would be the reaction of metallic lithium with water. However, because there was unlikely to be very much lithium metal present (as they were lithium polymer batteries), water could still be used to extinguish the fire. In addition, as the batteries were already exploding and the use of water was unlikely to significantly increase any risk. The Emergency Responder advised of the likely products of the fire, and suggested that crews used breathing apparatus and that any run-off fire water be contained. The Emergency Responder also provided advice on cordon distances and the disposal of the batteries after the fire had been extinguished.
Immediate access to specialist knowledge means that incidents can be resolved safely and efficiently limiting damage to property, and protecting people and the environment.
A fire officer called NCEC regarding an incident where firefighters had used pumps in a flooded pub cellar. Several hours after they had used the pumps, a firefighter had been overcome by fumes in the cellar. Subsequently, carbon monoxide levels were monitored and found to be high. The caller wanted to know if this would be due to exhaust gases remaining in the cellar 4 to 5 hours after the pumps had been switched off or if it was possible that carbon dioxide was leaking from a cylinder and was registering as carbon monoxide on the detection equipment.
Our Emergency Responder confirmed that carbon monoxide would have been present in the pump exhaust gases and could have remained in the cellar as it was quite small and not very well ventilated. The Emergency Responder advised that it was unlikely that the gas monitors would register carbon dioxide as carbon monoxide and suggested that the area should be ventilated and monitoring continued until the readings reached a safe level.
Immediate access to qualified chemists ensures that the most appropriate actions and suitable precautions are taken. Our Emergency Responders draw on their academic knowledge, industrial experience and specialist training at the NCEC to ensure the safety of emergency service personnel and members of the public.
Spill in school laboratory
NCEC was contacted following an incident in a school laboratory where a pupil had been splashed in the face while pouring a solution generated from an experiment involving nitric acid into an organic waste container. The pupil had been decontaminated and sent to hospital. However, a laboratory technician and three other pupils had received superficial splashes and were thought to have inhaled the vapours.
Our Emergency Responder advised that nitric acid is an oxidising agent and would react with organic chemicals. Advice was provided on first aid and decontamination of the technician and pupils, and on methods of decontaminating the laboratory and disposal of the resulting waste.
Immediate access to expert advice means that hazards can be accurately identified, allowing incidents to be resolved quickly without compromising safety.
FPS Expo 2013
Harrogate International Centre, Yorkshire
A wide variety of senior professionals from across the UK, Europe and the USA will be visiting FPS EXPO 2013 to check out the latest industry innovations, network with colleagues, and learn about new legislation and other industry issues at the free workshops.
NCEC will, again, be taking exhibition space at the oil industry's largest annual event at Harrogate International Centre.
For further information, please click here.
7–8 March, Eastwood Hall, Nottingham
Hazmat 2013 is only just over a month away now and we are pleased to announce that the Institutution of Fire Engineers (IFE) has awarded 11 hours of continual professional development (CPD) points for the event. IFE members will also receive a 5% discount on delegate rates.
Hazmat 2013 includes three scenario and workshop sessions. Delegates can choose between:
1. Scenario training – led by Tactical Hazmat. This session will be a table-top exercise looking at the consequences of an incident at a COMAH-regulated industrial site regarding environmental impact, off-site impact to infrastructure downwind (transport networks and residential) and tactical options for on-site response.
2. Radioactive material incident scenario – led by Nuvia Ltd. This will start with a short presentation and Q&A session to ensure delegates are familiar with the background knowledge required and will be followed by two exercises. The first will be a table-top exercise focusing on an incident involving a radioactive source. The second exercise will be practical and aims to familiarise delegates with monitoring equipment, recording data and techniques for, and to practise, safely undressing potentially contaminated individuals.
3. Hazmat Master Class – led by Tactical Hazmat. This will be a hands-on hazard categorisation session using basic field chemistry techniques and observations. The session will encompass theory and practical elements, and will conclude with a demonstration using a mobile training facility.
Places will be allocated on a first-come, first-served basis.
Delegate places are still available so book now to secure your place and preferred scenario session.
Hazmat 2013 is organised by NCEC and Tactical Hazmat, and is supported by Media Partner, Fire Times.
BADGP's AGM 2013
21 March 2013 – Sedgebrook Hall, Chapel Brampton, Northampton
NCEC is sponsoring and exhibiting at this year BADGP AGM and seminar.
The seminar will address the latest changes to the codes and laws governing the main modes of transport. Speakers who have modal expertise will present their points of view.
Click here for more information.
Free ‘taster’ webinar training sessions – still time to sign up
Chemical safety training is a requirement of many different pieces of legislation (e.g. European Agreement concerning the International Carriage of Dangerous Goods by Road (ADR), Control of Major Accident Hazards (COMAH) and the UK Control of Substances Hazardous to Health (COSHH)).
At NCEC, we recognise the importance of having the right training. So, to help you evaluate our training courses and get a better understanding of how we may be able to help you, we are hosting another set of our free ‘taster’ webinar training sessions.
These sessions, which last for up to 30 minutes, will give you the opportunity to watch and listen to an abridged version of our most popular presentations. The following webinars will be held on Thursday 7 February 2013:
13:30: Chemical Hazard Awareness
For those who work with chemicals, whether regularly or in an emergency, who want an understanding of how the chemicals might behave and the impact they can have on health.
14:30: First Aid for Chemical Exposures
This course combines chemical hazard awareness with first aid. It is aimed at those who work with chemicals or work in an environment where chemicals are handled.
15:30: Chemical Spill Response
This course is ideal for those who are considering setting up, or already have, a spill response team in their workplace
To register your interest, please email indicating your preferred choice(s) of session. We will acknowledge your request, and further details and instructions will be sent nearer to the time.
For more details on all of our training courses, please view our training course synopses.
All those who take part in the ‘taster’ webinar sessions will be eligible for a 15% reduction in the fee for training courses that are due to be held before 31 May 2013.
Chemical Hazard Awareness – 21 February 2013 and 22 May 2013
A one-day course that provides an understanding of chemical hazards and the impact they can have on health during normal working conditions or in the event of an accident.
Hazmat 1st Response – 6 March 2013
A one-day course to prepare you and your organisation for dealing with a chemical incident. The course provides practical and up-to-date information on what is expected of you during a hazmat incident.
Cost: £235 + VAT
First Aid for Chemical Exposures – 24 April 2013
This one-day course combines first aid with chemical hazard awareness and is aimed at those who work with chemicals or work in an environment where chemicals are handled.
Cost: £265 +VAT
COSHH Assessment – 25 April 2013
A one-day course to prepare you and your organisation for dealing with a chemical incident. The course provides practical and up-to-date information on what is expected of you during a hazmat incident.
Cost: £215 + VAT
To book a place, please contact us on +44 (0) 1235 75 3654 and/or email email@example.com