Welcome to the July issue of the NCEC newsletter

This month marked the start of our third financial year in 15 months, following our acquisition by Ricardo plc in November 2012. We are able to look back on the past year with pride following a seamless transition and continued high standards of service.

Despite it being a busy time, we still managed to analyse the results of our annual customer survey. I would like to thank those of you who took the time to complete the survey. I am delighted with the amount and quality of feedback you provided, as I am with the positive comments you made and the suggestions about what new things you would like us to do. In this issue, we are pleased to be able to publish the results and to reveal the winner of our survey prize draw.

I am pleased to announce a series of Open Days for which we are issuing a general invitation to readers wishing to visit our Oxfordshire offices, meet our team and see the Emergency Responder team in action. We have scheduled these for 3 September, 13 September, 17 October, 30 October and 2 December. If you’d like to visit us, please get in touch as we expect places to fill up quickly.

Due to popular demand for our pocket-sized Hazchem Scale Cards, we have now published pocket-sized guides on the legal requirements for chemical transport and supply. Watch this space for information about other useful Scale Cards!

Finally, we have our regular ‘Out and about’ feature and give details of some recent emergency calls, and forthcoming events and training courses.

Daniel Haggarty

Director, Chemical Risk Management (NCEC)
Email: ncec@ricardo-aea.com
Web: the-ncec.com
Tel: +44 (0) 1235 753248

NCEC launches new website

We have recently launched our new website. Through it, we aim to provide you with a ‘one-stop-shop’ of our products and services that you may need to help you manage your chemical risks.  

The new site has been spilt into colour-coded areas (Emergency Response, SDS Services, Training and Preparedness, and Regulatory Compliance) to make it easier and quicker for you to find the information you need.

It has interactive elements to keep you up to date with NCEC’s latest products and services, news and events. It will also provide you with useful information through features such as a blog, resource area and a poll.  

We shall continue to update and add new content to the website, and are keen to get your feedback while the site is in a beta-testing phase.

Please email any feedback or comments to ncec@ricardo-aea.com.

NCEC customer satisfaction survey 2013

We were delighted to receive 155 responses to this year’s customer survey. This is a higher number of participants than last year, which was the first year of the survey. We have included some of the key results below and will be producing thought pieces over the coming months that take account of your views on regulation and market trends.

The key highlights of the survey are:

  • 93% of respondents are very satisfied or satisfied with the professionalism and customer service of NCEC.
  • 92% of respondents are very satisfied or satisfied with the technical competency of our staff.
  • When comparing the quality of our services with that of our competitors, 52% rated us as excellent (49% in 2012).
  • 100% of respondents ‘would recommend’ us (68% in 2012); 35% have already done so to at least one other.
  • Private-sector respondents, in particular, are keen for NCEC to provide legislative webinars (60% registered an interest). We hope to add more webinars to our list of activities for the year.
  • More of you are using iOS® products. Therefore, our investment in developing an iOS version of our Chemdata® app is very timely. There will be more about the launch later in the year.
  • The key challenge reported by private-sector respondents was achieving compliance. Several other factors vied for second place including increased competition, securing supply of raw materials and high energy costs. For the public-sector respondents, the main challenge was budget cuts with interagency communication and training taking second and third places.
  • Despite these challenges, 62% of private-sector respondents and 98% of public-sector respondents felt regulation was a good thing.

We are also very pleased to announce that David Broughton, from the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service, was the winner of the tablet computer and Android™ Chemdata licence. We’ll be running the survey again next year, so please look out for the opportunity to take part.







Chemdata 2013.1 was released to users on Friday 26 July. With this release, the size of the database has increased to over 51,000 substances and more than 154,000 synonyms and trade names.

We are also pleased to announce that we are working on two significant developments for Chemdata®. Firstly, we are updating the user interface to allow us to add additional languages to Chemdata® such as Arabic. This will provide users around the world with a greater choice of screen languages and allow more people to use Chemdata® in their native language. Secondly, following user demand, we are developing an iOS Pocket Chemdata® app. We are currently at the early stages of these developments but plan to release the new version towards the end of the year – watch our website for updates.

Finally, to celebrate the 30th Anniversary of Chemdata® and the approaching launch of the iOS Pocket Chemdata® app, come and visit us at the Emergency Services Show and find out what we have as a free gift for you (while stocks last!).


Carbon reporting – is assurance necessary?

With mandatory carbon reporting legislation due to come into force later this year, it won’t be long before companies listed on the Main Market of the London Stock Exchange will be required to include greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions data in their annual reports.

The prospect of compulsory disclosure is also potentially getting nearer for other larger companies as they could be affected from 2016, and so many organisations will be considering their approach to the publication of emissions data.

The draft requirements set out the types of outputs that need to be published. Existing protocols and guidance give advice on how to get to that point and cover the types of emissions and the format for their disclosure, but provide less detail on the processes that an organisation must follow before the information is published. Therefore, many of our customers have asked us if assurance or some sort of verification will be required.

The short answer is no. There will be no formal requirement to verify or assure data as part of the mandatory reporting legislation. However, another important question facing companies is this: is some form of verification or assurance actually advisable?

It’s more difficult to give a black and white answer to this question than you might initially think. That’s because there are a number of factors that could influence an organisation’s decision to opt for assurance, including the need to carefully interpret the current guidance.

An important guidance document on company reporting was published by The Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales in partnership with the Environment Agency in 2009. This states that ‘there is no statutory requirement for an environmental audit; however, any environmental information disclosed in the annual financial statements can be included within the scope of the financial audit where it is material’.

The implication for companies is clear. If a business includes environmental information like carbon emissions in its report, this can be included within the scope of an audit or verification process where a business’s environmental impact is likely to influence its financial standing.

For example, companies exposed to carbon costs should report greenhouse GHG and related risks to their businesses in annual reports. This is because policy measures such as cap-and-trade programmes and carbon taxes will increase the financial risk of carbon emissions for many companies. Therefore, these businesses need to carefully consider the benefits of assurance.

There are also other reasons why organisations should consider assurance. The clear identification of environmental risks and opportunities are important for the success of most companies. Many large companies now regard environmental issues such as climate change as an opportunity, as well as a risk. However, applying the guidance and assessing the risks correctly can be challenging.

Getting it wrong can lead to a loss of confidence in organisations, alongside some reputational and brand damage. So, getting it right is essential. Indeed, in many instances, getting your environmental reporting right can offer reputational benefits and a competitive advantage. This is because the process of gathering and reporting on information can highlight future risks, which can then be avoided. Assurance provides confidence in your data and enables you to publish it knowing that it has been reviewed by an independent party.

Having these data verified and assured also provides stakeholders with the confidence that the published data are a fair, accurate and transparent reflection of an organisation’s emissions inventory.

Therefore, the risk of calculating the GHG emissions inventory incorrectly should be evaluated, with a review undertaken of an organisation’s in-house or outsourced capability. Issues to consider include where an individual is operating in isolation compared with when a team or group is calculating an inventory.

Assurance offers other routes to reputational benefits too. When reporting is done through voluntary mechanisms, organisations can benefit by providing details of their verification. For example, if an organisation reported its emissions to the CDP last year, having a verification certificate that met its standards offered a substantial boost to overall scores. A total of 9% to 13% of the total score was available for verification under the disclosure score and a total of 15% to 17% was possible under the performance score.

Another important consideration for organisations is how they choose to undertake the verification process. The approach to the verification of data is completely different to that of the calculation of a GHG inventory. If ISO 140064 Parts 1 and 2 were used for the calculation, then Part 3 might be considered for its verification. There are also many other options including the popular ASAE3000 or ISAE 3000 standards. In each case, an organisation will need to consider the level of verification and the extent of its coverage. Capturing all emissions in full can be expensive and time consuming, but only reviewing high-level data can limit the reputational benefits.

In summary, making a decision on whether to opt for assurance is perhaps more complex than many organisations might assume. There are many factors that will influence the decision. Firstly, the interpretation of the Environment Agency’s guidance and, secondly, a consideration of the other risks and benefits. Our advice is that every organisation affected by mandatory reporting should carry out an assessment of the pros and cons. This assessment should cover the areas highlighted in this article. While assurance is not formally required for mandatory reporting, it offers many other benefits. At the very least, it provides an opportunity to reflect on the increasing material relevance of the environment to a company’s financial performance.

Ricardo-AEA is a leading expert in corporate footprinting and reporting. We have helped a large number of organisations to gather the data required to calculate and report their footprints through a variety of voluntary and mandatory reporting mechanisms including annual reporting, the CDP and the CRC Energy Efficiency Scheme.

For more information on Ricardo-AEA’s GHG footprinting and reporting services, please contact Christine St John Cox +44 (0)1235 753084 or christine.stjohncox@ricardo-aea.com.

Alternatively, you can download our free Mandatory Reporting Guide here.



New Scale Cards

Building on the success of the Hazchem Scale Cards, NCEC has now published two new Scale Cards. One concerns the legal requirements for the supply of chemicals and the other is on the legal requirements for the transport of dangerous goods. The aim of these new Scale Cards is to provide a useful aide-mémoire that can be carried easily by those that need to be aware of the legal requirements. In common with the Hazchem Scale Card, the new cards are laminated to increase durability and service life.

The legal requirements for the supply of chemicals card provides information on:

  • The changes from the Chemicals (Hazard Information and Packaging for Supply) Regulations (CHIP) to the Classification, Labelling and Packaging of Substances and Mixtures Regulation (CLP).
  • The legal requirements on the size and content of CLP labels.
  • Information needed on CLP Safety Data Sheets (SDS).
  • A timeline for EU implementation of the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals (GHS).
  • A list of commonly used abbreviations.

The legal requirements for the transport of dangerous card provides information on:

  • The training required for different participants in the transport of dangerous goods.
  • Documentation required during transportation.
  • Labels and placards that are associated with vehicles and containers. 
  • Safety equipment requirements.

An illustration of each Scale Card can be viewed on our website.


34% vehicle prohibition rate for 2012/13 - implications of Operator Compliance Risk Score (OCRS)

The vast majority of hazardous goods carriers in the UK will be well aware of the European Agreement concerning the International Carriage of Dangerous Goods by Road (ADR) requirements for road transport and their UK implementation* (in the form of the Carriage of Dangerous Goods and Use of Transportable Pressure Equipment Regulations 2009 as amended (CDG 2009)). These regulations describe the conditions within which dangerous goods may be carried by road, including the manner in which such goods must be packaged and labelled, and the characteristics of the vehicle they are carried in.

Various bodies enforce the regulations and publish details of instances where carriers have failed to meet the strictly prescribed conditions. The Vehicle and Operator Services Agency (VOSA) publishes statistics showing the number of items found worthy of a prohibition. Details for 2012/13 are shown below.












Experienced practitioners will not be surprised to see so many prohibitions for fire extinguishers – common problems encountered include being empty, broken, degraded, hard to find or absent altogether. More surprising, perhaps, is the high number of vehicles being prohibited for a variety of other issues. It is true that the most cautious and responsible hauliers can minimise the number of vehicles being prohibited. However, VOSA reports that of roadside vehicle checks made on UK vehicles in 2012, a staggering 34% resulted in a prohibition notice being issued.

Prohibitions have long been a problem for hauliers – they can be costly and lead to delayed deliveries and loss of customer confidence. However, the relatively new OCRS now also affects every haulier holding a GB operating licence. Data from roadside tests consider a variety of factors or defects to produce a risk score, which then helps VOSA to judge which vehicles to check at a later date. Operators scoring poorly are more likely to be stopped again.

While the implications of a poor score can be worrying, this is good news for responsible hauliers who want to go about their activities without impediment and corner-cutting competitors undermining their business. However, it heightens the need to be aware of agency powers and invest in training, services and equipment, thus ensuring compliance.
*Excluding Northern Ireland


Chemsafe refresher training

For the attention of all emergency service personnel ONLY:
NCEC is currently visiting UK emergency services to deliver refresher training on the Chemsafe service, which is free at the point of use for all emergency service personnel.

The objectives of the presentation are to provide:

  • A better understanding of the role of NCEC and its operations.
  • A reminder of the Chemsafe scheme and the role of NCEC within it.
  • Improved communications between the emergency services and NCEC.
  • A familiarisation with Chemdata®.
  • An overview of chemical incidents - where there were fatalities.
  • An explanation of the changing Fire Service acetylene incident guidance.
  • An outline of the recent legislation changes in respect to GHS to show the new labelling and symbols likely to be encountered.

We discuss and provide examples of the calls we take, use Chemdata to run through example scenarios and answer any questions about the service.

The presentation is aimed at hazmat officers, fire control operators, police officers and we would encourage the attendance of any others who might find it useful (e.g. your local EA rep). We aim to visit every UK Fire Service once every three years and are hoping to develop a similar visit schedule for UK police forces.

The presentation is approximately 3 hours long, depending on discussion and questions, etc.

We do not charge for this presentation, but would appreciate payment of any travel and subsistence costs incurred.

If you are interested in taking up this offer, then please email Bethan Davies at bethan.davies@ricardo-aea.com.

Out and about

NCEC’s visit to Japan in May













To mark the appointment of Japan Chemical Database (JCDB) as an NCEC sales intermediary, Daniel Haggarty and Giles Hobson travelled to Japan at the end of May to visit our new business partner, present at seminars arranged by JCDB and meet a number of key prospective customers.

Two seminars were held – the first in Osaka, the second in Tokyo – and focused on our Carechem 24 International multilingual emergency response service. Both seminars were well attended by representatives from leading Japanese chemicals companies, and we certainly appreciated the excellent questions and positive feedback from those attending.

The trip provided us with valuable insights into the Japanese market and we are now looking forward to making a return visit in October to coincide with the RISCON 2013 exhibition.  

We should also add a special word of thanks to JCDB for being an excellent host and ensuring that the whole trip was a thoroughly enjoyable experience that also went remarkably smoothly.


Interesting calls  

Corrosive substances at home

NCEC recently received a call regarding an incident where a member of the public had put three different drain cleaner products down a sink and had subsequently been taken to hospital with burns to their hands, throat and respiratory tract. The Fire Service was looking for information on the hazards of the products when mixed.

Our Emergency Responder advised that all of the products were corrosive and could cause burns. The Responder also advised that the products contained sulphuric acid, sodium hydroxide and sodium hypochlorite that, when mixed, would produce chlorine gas. The Responder explained that the chlorine gas generated in a confined space was likely to have caused the irritation to the person’s throat and respiratory tract. It was recommended that the fire crew should wear gas-tight suits with breathing apparatus and chemical protective gloves.

Immediate access to expert advice on hazardous household chemicals means that dangers can be identified accurately, allowing incidents to be resolved quickly without compromising safety.

Product spill on carriageway

A fire officer called NCEC regarding an incident where two agricultural products mixed in solution had spilt onto a carriageway from an agricultural sprayer on the back of a tractor.

Our Emergency Responder advised that one of the products was toxic on prolonged exposure and could cause sensitisation on skin contact. The Responder explained that this hazard would be reduced because the two products had been diluted. However, it was pointed out that the mixture would be hazardous to the environment and should be prevented from entering watercourses. It was also suggested that the Environment Agency should be made aware of the spill.

Our Emergency Responders draw on their in-depth chemical knowledge and experience dealing with incidents to provide practical advice to protect the emergency services, members of the public and the environment.

Battery acid and bleach

NCEC recently received a call from a fire officer who was dealing with an incident at a domestic property where battery acid had reacted with bleach.

Our Emergency Responder advised that the reaction would emit chlorine, which is corrosive and toxic by inhalation. The Responder explained that chlorine could react with metals to produce hydrogen, which would be flammable and could cause an explosive atmosphere to form.

Immediate access to qualified chemists ensures that the most appropriate actions and suitable precautions are taken.



The Emergency Services Show
25-26 September 2013, NEC, Birmingham





The growing Emergency Services Show (The NEC, Birmingham on 25 and 26 September 2013) focuses on promoting interoperability and provides visitors with valuable opportunities to learn, network and progress their career development. Entry gives visitors of all ranks access to over 350 exhibiting companies and organisations, as well as workshops, seminars and live rescue demonstrations. Register here.

NCEC will be exhibiting alongside leading names in firefighting equipment, search and rescue, extrication, first response, communications, IT, protective clothing and uniforms, vehicles and fleet, vehicle equipment, outsourcing, training, community safety, station facilities, water rescue and medical supplies. At the show visitors can see, touch and discuss the latest technology, ideas and initiatives focused on improving public safety and assisting all blue-light services, voluntary workers and service providers.

The Road Haulage Association is once again organising the popular recovery demonstration that will highlight the skills and professionalism of those in the industry, the equipment available and what it can achieve in the correct hands with the right training. Meanwhile, the College of Paramedics will be running a series of continual professional development (CPD) sessions, comprising a mix of 30-minute lectures and workshops. All attendees will be provided with CPD certificates for inclusion in their portfolios.

Aimed at developing relationships and partnerships between voluntary organisation and the blue-light services, the Emergency Response Zone is a networking focus of the show and will feature around 80 emergency-services-related charities and not-for-profit organisations.

The NEC is centrally located with excellent transport links to Birmingham International Station, Birmingham Airport and the UK motorway network. Parking for Emergency Services show visitors will be free of charge.

For more information visit here.

Hazmat 2014

30 April and 1 May 2014 at Eastwood Hall, Nottingham





Hazmat 2014 will take place on 30 April and 1 May 2014 at Eastwood Hall, Nottingham and is co-organised by NCEC and Tactical Hazmat.

NCEC and Tactical Hazmat are very pleased to confirm Mike Callan from the USA as a speaker (http://mikecallan.com). Mike is a 40-year veteran of the fire service and winner of many awards. This year, Mike was presented with The John M Eversole Lifetime Achievement Award, which is given by the International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC) to recognise a living individual who has had an exceptionally distinguished career in the field of hazardous materials emergency response. Mike is also an author and experienced trainer and speaker. We will be releasing further details about speakers and presentations through our website and Twitter feed.

Now in its 7th year, the Hazmat conference continues to be an essential opportunity for Hazmat specialists to share experience and knowledge with like-minded professionals working in the hazmat and chemical incident industry. The conference draws on the expertise of a range of hazmat professionals and industry leaders, NCEC’s own Emergency Responders, and experts and specialists from Tactical Hazmat, our co-organisers. Hazmat 2014 will again be supported by Fire Times, our media partner.

Hazmat 2014 will have a greater focus on multi-agency working, which we hope will encourage more people from the police and ambulance services to attend. Other topics for 2014 are likely to include hazmat crime scenes, long-term exposure to combustion products, plume dynamics in urban areas, medical health surveillance, Chemsafe and case studies. Following the success of the workshops and scenario sessions at Hazmat 2013, we will again be running the sessions. However, Hazmat 2014 will have four shorter sessions that will be run twice to give delegates the opportunity to attend two sessions. Details of the sessions will be released over the coming months and first choice will be given to delegates who have already registered for Hazmat 2014.

Early-bird registration is now open, please download the booking form and return it today to benefit from our lowest rate.


Hazmat 1st Response – 25 September 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.
Price: £265 + VAT

First Aid for Chemical Exposures – 26 September 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.
Price: £265 +VAT

Chemical Hazard Awareness – 31 October 2013

The Chemical Hazard Awareness course is aimed at those people working in a chemical environment, whether regularly or in an emergency, who would like a better understanding of the chemicals they deal with and how they might be affected by them during their work or in the event of an accident.
Price: £265 + VAT

To book a place or for more information, please contact us on +44 (0)1235 753248 and/or email ncec@ricardo-aea.com.

Bespoke training courses

We also offer bespoke training courses that can be delivered on your premises. This means we can tailor the content so that it relates directly to your organisation, thus meeting your specific needs and providing a cost-effective option.

The areas covered by our training are:                                                   

Chemical incident response

Hazmat 1st Response and Chemical Spill Response - how you can best be prepared for and respond to spills and fires.

Chemical hazard awareness and safety

Chemical Hazard Awareness - recognising hazard labels and what they mean.

Legislation compliance

COSHH Assessment - how to carry out a COSHH assessment.                                   

To discuss your training needs, or for more information, please contact us or call us on +44 (0)1235 753248.


NCEC launches new website

NCEC customer satisfaction survey 2013


Carbon reporting – is assurance necessary?

NCEC in action

New Scale Cards

Chemsafe refresher training

34% vehicle prohibition rate for 2012/13 – implications of Operator Compliance Risk Score (OCRS)

Out and about

NCEC’s visit to Japan in May

Interesting calls

Corrosive substances at home
Product spill on carriageway
Battery acid and bleach