NCEC Newsletter – March 2020

NCEC Newsletter – March 2020

Welcome to the first newsletter of 2020.

In this edition, we're discussing how organisations can prepare for a pandemic in order to reduce the impact to their business and will be reporting on updates to some of the regulatory legislations including the newly announced deadline for SCIP database notifications. We also introduce our growing crisis team and  highlight the impressive work the team has been doing to improve our customers organisational resilience. 

We give you a sneak peek at NCEC's Hazmat 2020 conference programme as well as take a look at our upcoming and on-demand webinars for essential learning and see which industry events we will be attending in the coming months.

I hope you find this newsletter informative. Please feel free to contact me with any comments or suggestions for future content.

Kind regards

Jon Gibbard
Director – NCEC

Coronavirus – how prepared is your business to deal with it?

The cause of an outbreak of respiratory illness in Wuhan City in China was identified on 31 December 2019 as a new strain of coronavirus – 2019 Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19). Coronavirus presents with flu-like symptoms including a fever, a cough or difficulty breathing and can be passed from person to person, usually after close contact. The epidemic could soon be recognised as a global outbreak (pandemic).

The most obvious impact of a pandemic is how people are affected. The outbreak and rapid spread of coronavirus to near-pandemic proportions highlights the need for businesses to be prepared for the consequences of sudden and high employee absenteeism.

This article will provide some initial considerations to help prepare for a pandemic, but there is a lot more to consider. The ripple effects of a pandemic need to be carefully considered as they can potentially impact all aspects of a business. We have prepared a summary of actions to help you prepare for these effects. If you have any concerns about how to go about preparing or updating a business impact assessment, crisis management plan, business continuity plan or a pandemic response plan, please don’t hesitate to contact us at [email protected]

Find out how you can maintain business continuity

Ricardo is hosting a webinar which will provide businesses with a battle plan on how they should be preparing for this emergency.

Register for the webinar here

How will Brexit impact NCEC?

NCEC has been working closely with its customers over the last couple of years to help them understand the possible impact of Brexit on their products, their supply chain and their ability to maintain continued compliance with relevant regulations. Find out what arrangements NCEC has made to continue to support its customers post Brexit.

Find out about our arrangements

Brexit – what happens next?

After 47 years, the UK has now left the EU and has now entered a transition period until 31 December 2020, during which, trading of chemicals will continue as usual between the EU and the UK. However, it is now looking very likely that UK will have a separate UK REACH rather than a European equivalent. There is currently very limited information available on what this might entail. 

Join us on 13 July, 14:00 BST, for an informative webinar with Caroline Raine, who has led most of NCEC's research into Brexit. We aim to bring you new and definite information, direct from the UK Government, Health & Safety Executive (HSE) and the Department of Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (DEFRA) on what post Brexit regulations will look like. 

Register for 'Brexit – what happens next'

If you have any questions or concerns regarding chemical regulations and Brexit, please don't hesitate to get in touch

ECHA launches the new SCIP database

Image copyright: European Chemicals Agency

Under the revised Waste Framework Directive, all articles and complex objects containing any Substance of Very High Concern (SVHC) on the Registration, Evaluation and Authorisation of Chemicals (REACH) Candidate List, will need to be notified to the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) from 5 January 2021. These will be added to the new Substances of Concern In Products (SCIP) database.

NCEC maintains an extensive database in conjunction with the ECHA lists – now updated with the SVHCs on the Candidate List – and can offer tailored support and guidance for your product submissions. A check against our database can help you to better understand the composition of your products and enable you to be ready to do your notifications in 2021.

Read more on the SCIP database

Environmental risks from SVHCs – a persistent challenge

The REACH Regulation puts a high importance on identifying persistent, bio-accumulative and toxic (PBT) or very persistent and very bio-accumulative (vPvB) substances on the EU market. These substances can pose a high risk to human health and the environment and are considered as SVHCs. They might be added to the Candidate List of SVHCs in accordance with REACH Article 59.

Our experts have considerable experience in the evaluation and assessment of such complex products. We are leading experts in PBT assessments and have an excellent track record of helping clients address the challenges of REACH.

Find out how to correctly test products for SVHCs

Poison centre notification deadline for consumer-use mixtures extended

The extension to poison centre notification deadline for consumer use products has now been published. Both consumer and professional use products will now share the same deadline of 1 January 2021.

We still believe organisations should notify now and benefit from the transitional period ending in January 2025.

Find out why you should notify now

Updates to regulatory legislations in 2020

ECHA to launch revised completeness check 

From April 2020, the completeness check under ECHA, required for a REACH registration dossier to be issued a registration number, will now include chemical safety reports.

Read ECHA's full announcement here

Revised workplace exposure limits enforced

Revised workplace exposure limits (WELs) came into force on 17 January 2020. Substances that have been assigned WELs are subject to the amended COSHH Regulation, which places a duty on employers to protect employees and others in the workplace from the hazards associated with substances used at work. ECHA has proposed that companies write a report to link health-based exposure limits and OELS.

Find out what this enforcement means for you

Which numbers are required on SDS?

Recently, ECHA launched a project (REF-6) to tackle non-compliance in the classification and labelling of mixtures, which revealed that 44% of hazardous mixtures are not compliant with these obligations.

This project highlighted the importance of effective quality assurance procedures throughout the supply chain to minimise further errors in safety data sheets (SDS) and labelling and improve the information they provide.

Read the full analysis of the project here

It is a requirement under the REACH Regulation that organisations provide an emergency telephone number in section 1.4 of their SDS. This can then be used if chemical incidents such as spillages and fires should occur.

If an official advisory body is available, then its number should be used. However, when the number is not available 24/7 or is limited in its use (e.g. for use by medical professionals only), this should be stated on the SDS and additional emergency numbers belonging to a supplier or competent third party should be stated. Using our emergency number on your SDSs, in addition to the poison centre number, provides a service to your customer that goes above and beyond just compliance. 

Find out more here

Get a free SDS check

For a limited time only, our SDS authoring team is offering a compliance check for one of your existing SDSs.  The check will include ensuring the ingredient classifications are up to date based on the most recent data available, assessing the overall classification of the product and ensuring that the SDS is compliant with the relevant labelling and SDS legislation.

Request your free SDS check today

NCEC extends presence in North America

NCEC is excited to announce that it will be extending its physical presence in North America to better support our customers in the region.

A vital part of this venture is the appointment of Tim Kennedy who has recently joined NCEC as a New Business Development Manager. He will be based in Ricardo Inc’s offices in Detroit. Tim has significant experience in the international regulatory environment, having previously worked at ChemADVISOR/UL. This will be critical when working with organisations in the North American chemicals industry as he understands the business pressures and risks they face. 

Read the full announcement here

Meet our growing crisis team

Ricardo recognises organisational resilience is a priority for its clients. Over the last year, Ricardo has grown its team of crisis management experts, who hold a total of 80 years industry-leading experience. The expertise within the team is broad and stems principally from international experience working in the public and private sectors.

The focus of the team is to provide services to enhance our clients’ resilience and support them in protecting their brand reputation. This provides clients with the skills to mitigate corporate risk, and respond to increasing regulatory burdens. 

Find out more about the crisis team 

Crisis training and consultancy services go from strength to strength

Over the last few months, our crisis management team has been very busy delivering on-site training exercises and consultancy services to our ever-increasing client base. This article takes a look at what the crisis team have been involved in over the past couple of months. 

In addition to continuing to deliver world-class crisis consultancy, training and exercise programmes in 2020, we are developing a range of new and exciting service offerings for crisis management consulting, emergency and crisis response support, and business continuity planning.  

If you have any crisis consultancy enquiries, want to book a training course or are interested in discussing how our crisis management services can support your organisation in mitigating risk and achieving corporate objectives, please don’t hesitate to contact us. 

Read more here

NCEC welcomes hazmat expert Ed Sullivan

NCEC is pleased to announce that Ed Sullivan has recently joined the team in a new role as the Hazmat Lead.

Ed brings a wealth of experience gained through working for a local authority fire and rescue service (FRS) for 17 years and the last 2 years as the hazardous materials (hazmat) lead at the Fire Service College.

For over 45 years, NCEC has been providing support to the UK’s emergency services through Chemsafe, the UK chemical industry's voluntary scheme for providing expert advice in the event of a chemical emergency, and Chemdata®, NCEC’s chemical hazard database.

With Ed’s arrival, NCEC will be expanding its services to include more online learning, and training courses in wet chemistry field testing and hazardous materials adviser revalidation.

Find out more here 

Hazmat training at NCEC benefits emergency services

Using our expertise and experience, we have developed a hazmat training course specifically for the emergency services. Recently, Nigel Blumire, NCEC’s lead hazmat trainer, delivered the course to fire officers to help them prepare for incidents that they do not deal with on an everyday basis. Nigel received very positive feedback about the course: 

‘Thanks Nigel, your input was very well received.’
‘The input that you provided was good and interesting.’

Following the success of the recent hazmat course and the benefits it provides to the emergency services, we are working to move our training to an online environment so that emergency services, globally, can access it. If you want to be the first to know when these online modules are launched, please email us at nc[email protected]. Please do indicate the topics you are interested in.

Find out more about the training

Are you prepared for net zero emissions?

In June 2019, the UK Government led the way in committing the country to a net zero emissions target by 2050. But what does this mean for UK businesses?

Ricardo has launched a net zero webinar series aimed at private companies which will help your organisation prepare for success in a low carbon economy.

Webinar 1 – Strategy 
View on-demand

Webinar 2 – Planning (19 March, 11:00 GMT)
Register here

Webinar 3 – Implementation (14 May, 11:00 BST)
Register here


Hazmat 2020 – a sneak preview

Our annual Hazmat conference, now in its 13th year, is returning to the Crowne Plaza, Stratford-upon-Avon, on 13-14 May. Using delegate feedback gathered at previous conferences, the format for Hazmat 2020 will again include a range of case studies and interactive exercises. The conference brings together expert speakers and trainers to share best practice and new developments within the hazmat community.  This year’s programme will include speakers from the National CBRN Centre, National Ambulance Resilience Unit, AstraZeneca and London Fire Brigade. Registrations close on 27 April, secure your place at the event today.

Secure your place now

Read the full preview here

As the conference continues to grow, an exciting new addition for 2020 is a poster display and competition. The deadline for final poster submissions is 1 April 2020. The winner of the best poster will be awarded £100 worth of Amazon vouchers and one free delegate place for Hazmat 2021

Find out how you can submit your poster 

For organisations wishing to exhibit/sponsor, we are now offering a range of packages – bronze, silver, gold and platinum – to meet different exhibitors’ requirements and the exposure they wish to get from the event. Exhibitors will also have the opportunity to sponsor the workshop sessions and pre-conference barbeque. Our sponsorship opportunities will all involve clear recognition of your involvement, special mention throughout the event and display of sponsors details where appropriate.

Book an exhibitor spot today 

Back for Hazmat 2020: pre-conference workshop

'Understanding the dynamics of emotional response' is based on our emotional resilience and response training course and has received overwhelmingly positive responses in the past. This workshop will help you to learn to recognise and identify stress overload, apply stress management techniques during crisis situations and manage the impact of stress on mental health.

Find out more about this workshop by viewing this short video –


Reserve your place at the workshop

Please note: This is a separate registration process to that for Hazmat 2020 and you don’t have to be Hazmat 2020 attendee to book this workshop.


Coral decontamination

Chemical incidents can be caused by a wide variety of materials. These include naturally occurring sources of toxins that, if mishandled, can be hazardous to health.

A tenant of a local authority property suffered breathing difficulties and chest pains while cleaning aquarium coral at home. The tenant was taken to hospital for treatment. However, the local authority had concerns regarding further potential exposures at the property, so they contacted the fire and rescue service (FRS) for advice on how to properly decontaminate it.

A member of the FRS contacted us for advice. One of our Emergency Responders had previously dealt with an incident involving toxins released from a coral, so knew that some species of coral can release palytoxin (one of the most poisonous non-protein substances) when agitated, which can cause respiratory problems. We recommended that breathing apparatus be worn during decontamination of the property and that all potentially contaminated surfaces be thoroughly cleaned before allowing the tenant to return home.

Chemical spill clean-up

Hydrofluoric acid is extremely hazardous and can produce toxic and corrosive vapours. Consequently, its use is strictly regulated in industry. Incidents involving hydrofluoric acid often require the involvement of the emergency services and it is not uncommon for NCEC to receive multiple calls from different organisations dealing with these incidents. 

We initially received a call from a member of staff at a freight depot regarding an incident involving a product containing hydrofluoric acid and nitric acid that had leaked from an intermediate bulk container inside a shipping container. Our Emergency Responder provided depot staff with advice on the hazards of the product. 

After the FRS arrived, we then received a call from the fire officer in charge of the incident to discuss remediation tactics. We provided contact details for companies that would be able to attend the scene and clean up the spill. We were also contacted by the spill remediation company after they arrived at the scene and we supplied them with specific product information, which enabled them to carry out a risk assessment prior to cleaning up the spill. 

Motorway lorry fire

Goods vehicles often carry consumer goods and small containers of chemicals together as a mixed load. If an incident involving one of these vehicles occurs, it can result in reactions taking place if the products come into contact with each other, which can cause severe complications for the emergency services.

We were contacted by an FRS crew member who was attending a major incident involving a lorry fire on a motorway which had resulted in the complete closure of that stretch of the motorway. The initial information indicated that the lorry was carrying a large quantity of nitrogen capsules. However, it was later revealed that it was carrying a mixed load of chemicals including, but not limited to, a range of flammable chemicals and other gas cartridges. The FRS crew member was seeking advice on the hazards of the chemicals involved in the fire and any relevant information that would help to protect the environment as it was likely some of the chemicals would escape onto the grass verge.

We were able to advise on the hazards of all the chemicals in the lorry and their behaviour in a fire. We were also able to identify chemicals with a potential environmental impact, order them by the severity of the impact, and provide advice on methods and personal protective equipment required to clean up any spills of the products.

We then received subsequent calls for advice from the FRS attending the incident and a spill remediation company that attended to cleaning up the spill.

Get in touch

If you would like further information on any of the topics covered, have any questions on how to maintain business continuity in the face of a pandemic, Brexit's impact on your organisation or on any other wider chemical emergency response, regulatory compliance or crisis management matters, then please do not hesitate to contact us.

Kind regards

Jon Gibbard
Director – NCEC