NCEC Newsletter – May 2020

NCEC Newsletter – May 2020

Welcome to NCEC's May 2020 newsletter.

In this edition, we're taking a look at the resources we can offer your organisation to help you not just survive but thrive in the face of COVID-19. We will be then reporting on updates to some of the regulatory legislation deadlines and discuss the newly released SCIP database prototype. We will also discuss how NCEC is maintaining service delivery during COVID-19. 

We are also hosting a number of webinars on topics including business recovery in the face of coronavirus, ensuring your safety datasheets are complaint and the new SCIP database.  

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

NCEC's update on coronavirus (COVID-19)


Under the current environment of COVID-19, we at NCEC wanted to provide an update on how we are keeping your emergency response (ER) provision and our other services functioning at the normal level of excellence, while ensuring the wellbeing of our staff. 

Our emergency response, crisis consultancy, regulatory services along with all other business administrative services continue to provide our clients and customers the same level of service as before, with most of the staff working from home and with utmost level of safety provided to those working from the office.

Read how we aim to maintain 'zero harm from incidents' at this time

In addition, our colleagues across Ricardo are directly supporting organisations and communities affected by COVID-19 with the manufacturing and donation of purpose-designed protective face shields along with helping healthcare companies to scale up production of patient monitoring systems, as well as analysing the effect of COVID-19 on UK air pollution.

Read more on how Ricardo is supporting those on the frontline

COVID-19 – adapting in an uncertain world


The most obvious impact of COVID-19 is how people and organisations are affected by it. And whether infected or not, the associated preventive measures to this outbreak have fundamentally changed our social and professional working practices. 

Organisations are feeling pressurised to adapt quickly – not only to protect their staff and customers, but also to ensure they can protect their financial viability and the livelihoods of employees.

Find out how you can maintain business continuity

Ricardo’s crisis management experts, Evie Whatling and Gareth Black, recently contributed to the Crisis Response Journal with their view on how planning assumptions can be used to help organisations prepare effective forecasts and start scenario planning to establish a resilient and adaptive culture that will thrive alongside COVID-19.

Read more about surviving and thriving alongside COVID-19

To help your your business adapt to the “current normal” world we currently inhabit, learn about the adaptive measures you can take now to minimise further business disruption and help you to begin planning for the “new normal”; a world beyond COVID-19, Ricardo will be hosting a free webinar on 'COVID-19: business recovery and long term planning in an uncertain world' on 20 May, 14:00 (BST).

Register for 'COVID-19: business recovery and long-term planning in an uncertain world'


Ricardo’s business continuity specialists have also developed an easy-to-use toolkit that can be used to create a business continuity and recovery plan. The completion of this toolkit will provide organisations a series of intervention activities to mitigate the potential impacts that arise during a pandemic and a plan to manage the ongoing continuity of your business. We also have a free checklist which includes clear, concise and practical actions that an organisation should look to complete to create business continuity plans

Find out more about the toolkit here

Download the checklist here

Under the current circumstances, one of our sales executives, Chris Toon, provided us with some useful advice on how to adapt to working at home and how to ‘home educate’ children alongside it. It was so insightful, that we thought we should share it with our customers.

Read more on how Chris survives working from home

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]

NCEC's best practice guidance note on COVID-19 for UK fire and rescue services

Over the past two months, we have received a number of calls on our dedicated Chemsafe 24/7 emergency response helpline from the UK fire and rescue services (FRS) relating to best practice when operating in the COVID-19 atmosphere. While every incident is unique, we have pulled together some consistent recommendations on how to minimise risk to deployed FRS personnel in the UK in this guidance note, based on information from safety organisations around Europe.

FRS personnel are advised to use this note in conjunction with the advice provided by their respective governing bodies. We will continue to monitor the situation and update this if, and when, new information becomes available. We hope you find this information useful.

Read here for control measure considerations during COVID-19 incidents


Nearly 60% of organisations need to improve their telephone emergency response arrangements

Polling during our recent webinar ‘Best practice in telephone emergency response’ hosted in partnership with Cefic and BASF revealed that almost 60% of attendees thought they needed to make adjustments to their telephone emergency response provision. 

Unnecessary downtime caused by confusion over how to respond appropriately to an incident or an overestimation of the potential hazards can exacerbate emergency situations - leaving your business open to prolonged risk and disruption. Information-only services have many limitations and only actionable, proportionate advice can really change the impact of an incident, and ultimately reduce harm (and associated costs). This is especially relevant if hazardous substances are involved. 

Find out more on what Cefic, BASF and NCEC recommended

We urge you to assess if your telephone emergency response provision is fit for purpose and if you have any concerns on how to do this assessment, best practice for emergency response or how we can provide proportionate advice to your staff and customers, please don't hesitate to contact us.

NCEC to launch online training courses

To continue supporting the UK FRS as best as we can in the current circumstances, we are working to move our training courses to an online environment so that emergency services, globally, can access them. Our team of chemists and hazmat specialists is producing a library of interactive online learning packages that will be available to host on various devices. We fully understand the time constraints placed on fire officers, so we are ensuring that learning is offered in bitesize chunks, usually less than 15 minutes with a 5-minute summative assessment at the end. This online learning can be used by hazmat advisers as continual professional development (CPD) or by first responders as introductory material.

We will also be developing a recruit-level ‘introduction to hazmat’ package to complement these. All learning packages will be in line with the National Operational Guidance and aligned with best practice. We will also be providing updated modules for the emergency services on, but not limited to, the hazards of batteries, cylinders involved in fires, waste fires and chemical properties.

If you want to be the first to know when these online modules are launched, please email us at [email protected]. Please do indicate the topics you are interested in.

Why should tank terminals review their emergency response preparedness?

In this article, Rudi Stalmans, Managing Director of ener8 limited, an independent consulting business specialising in the liquid bulk and chemical supply chain, takes a look at the challenges faced by the bulk logistics industry when it comes to chemical incidents and emergency response. 

He mentions that tank terminals are likely to experience at least one medium-sized incident every three years and discusses the need for the tank terminal industry to do a critical review of their current emergency response preparedness and implement a crisis management plan and an efficient incident notification process.

Read more on why tank terminals need to review their ER provisions

ECHA releases the SCIP database prototype

Image copyright: European Chemicals Agency


The first prototype for the Substances of Concern In articles, as such or in complex objects (Products) (SCIP) database has been released by the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA). The SCIP database will come into effect from 5 January 2021, when ECHA will require companies to submit information on any Substance of Very High Concern (SVHC) that are used in articles/complex products that an organisation places the European Union (EU) market. 

A check of your article 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. We maintain 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.

Find out more on SCIP database requirements

Save your spot at our free webinar on ‘SCIP database: what does it mean for your organisation?’ on 9 June, 2PM (BST). The webinar will help you understand what the SCIP database is and how to begin preparing for your submissions now. 

Save your spot at the SCIP database webinar

Upcoming regulatory deadlines


Due to coronavirus, a few regulatory deadlines have now been extended and some are under review. Below is a list of all upcoming regulatory legislation deadlines, as at 19 May 2020, 11am (BST), that a stakeholder in the chemical supply chain should be aware of:

  1. Poison centre notification deadlines under Annex VIII harmonised rules
    • Consumer-use and professional-use mixtures – 1 January 2021
    • Industrial-use mixtures – 1 January 2024
    • Notifications made under Member States – 1 January 2025

  2. Substances of Concern In articles, as such or in complex objects (Products) (SCIP) database deadline – 5 January 2021. You can find more information about this database and the necessary requirements here.

  3. Russian Inventory deadline – Extended from 1 May 2020 to 1 August 2020

  4. Turkey REACH 
    • Pre-registration deadline (>=1 tonne/year) – 31 December 2020
    • Registration deadline – 1 January 2024

  5. Nanoform REACH deadline – The deadline passed on 1 January 2020. If you have not submitted your registration dossier as part of this deadline yet, please read here on how we can help. 

To enable our customer's regulatory compliance and equip them with the most up-to-date information on these legislations, we will be hosting free webinars on the SCIP database and Poison centres with our regulatory expert Caroline Raine. You can register for these webinars below. 

Register for 'SCIP database: what does it mean for your organisation?''

Register for 'Poison centres: how can you remain compliant with the new regulations'

If you need any help with any of these legislations or any other regulatory query, please don’t hesitate to contact us

Have you submitted your registration dossier for nanomaterials?


The European Commission's Regulation 2018/1881 mandated the effective characterisation and requirements of new and registered substances, and those that may contain nanomaterials and as of 1 January 2020, businesses manufacturing and importing nanoforms of substances must have a REACH registration that complies with the new requirements.

However, as of 24 February 2020, ECHA had received only 10% of the registration dossiers for nanomaterials that had been expected. Organisations with nanomaterials placed on the market that fall under REACH and who do not have a valid registration dossier are considered to be non-compliant by the ECHA.

Find out what you can do if you haven't submitted your dossier yet

Derogations for disinfectants in response to COVID-19

The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has increased the need for access to disinfectant products for healthcare professionals and EU citizens. To increase the manufacture and supply of these products, ECHA and the European Commission are supporting EU Member States and the UK HSE to apply derogations from the normal authorisation requirements of biocidal products.

Companies that wish to place biocidal products on the market that contain already-approved active substances should apply for an emergency permit from a relevant national authority using the ‘derogation from the requirements’ system under Article 55 of the European Biocidal Products Regulation (BPR). 

Read more on this derogation and Article 55 of BPR

Pioneering research to improve persistence assessment of substances – NCEC to work with Cefic on ECO52

NCEC is pleased to announce that it will be working on a project with the European Chemical Industry Council (Cefic) as part of their Long-range Research Initiative (LRI) programme (Cefic-LRI).

The project is titled ECO52: ‘Expanding the conceptual principles and applicability domain of persistence screening and prioritization frameworks, including single constituents, polymers, and UVCBs’, and aims to assess and improve the guidance on persistence assessment of substances. 

Read more about ECO52

You can also watch the video below where our Ecotoxicology Intern, Eleonore Delouvrier, explains the ECO52 project in more detail.

Ricardo provides COVID-19 support


To support those on the frontline, helping to combat the COVID-19 pandemic, Ricardo has assembled and delivered personal protective equipment (PPE) for care homes and the NHS. Ricardo is helping Isansys Lifecare scale up production of its life-saving innovation, Personal Status Engine (PSE), in healthcare. 

Read more on the delivery of Ricardo-assembled PPE

Find out more on how Ricardo helped Isansys scale up production

Ricardo has also published an anaysis of the UK air pollution during COVID-19 lockdown and what we can learn from it for the future. They are also hosting a webinar 'Life after lockdown – exploring what lessons can be learnt from the impact of COVID-19 on air quality worldwide' on 8 June, 11:00 (BST) to discuss these learnings in detail. 

Read more on the effects of COVID-19 lockdown on air pollution 

Register for webinar on 'Life after lockdown' here

Fire involving batteries and electrical equipment


A fire involving batteries can rapidly become a major incident as certain types of battery can emit hazardous, toxic or corrosive gases when involved in a fire. 

A fire and rescue service (FRS) crew contacted us for advice regarding a fire inside a van. The van, which was parked in a metal recycling centre, contained approximately 100kg of waste lithium-ion batteries  and printed circuit boards from laptops and mobile phones. The doors of the van were closed at the time of the call, but a large quantity of smoke was being produced. The FRS crew intended to use dry powder as an extinguishing agent once the van was opened and extract any unaffected boxes, if possible. 

Our emergency responder (ER) advised that, based on the type of battery involved, water would be a more effective extinguishing medium as the lithium-ion batteries involved would not react with water, unlike lithium metal batteries. This would allow the fire to be brought under control more rapidly than if dry powder was used. The ER also advised that the smoke emitted would likely contain corrosive gases and care should be taken to protect those fighting the fire and those nearby. 

Accident at a commercial greenhouse


We received a call from a FRS crew member who was attending an incident at a commercial greenhouse. Five people had been working in the greenhouse, applying two different chemical products to some plants. Four of them were feeling unwell and one had passed out. Their symptoms had to started to subside once they had been moved out of the greenhouse into fresh air. 

Our ER contacted the manufacturers of the products and obtained the relevant product hazard information. Based on this information and the fact that both products were heavily diluted, it was advised that it was unlikely that the chemical products being used were the cause of the symptoms described. We then discussed alternative theories with the FRS crew about the cause, such as an exposure to a potentially toxic plant, food poisoning or an excessively high temperature in the greenhouse. It was agreed that the temperature was the most likely cause of the symptoms, but that the clothing worn by the workers would either be laundered thoroughly or disposed of as a precaution against contamination. 

Industrial cleaner releases gas upon heating


We received a call from an employee of a company who had  been using an industrial cleaner in a plastics moulding factory. It was being used in a way that involved it being heated to 300°C for an hour. The heat had caused the cleaner to decompose, which resulted in a gas be emitted to which several employees had already been exposed. 

Our ER advised that the gases and fumes being produced were likely to be an irritant, and exposed employees should be monitored for symptoms and should seek medical advice as a precaution. The ER then contacted the manufacturer of the product and was given details about the composition of the product and the gases involved. Using this information, our ER was able to further advise the caller on the hazards of the gases and precautionary actions that could be taken to safely remediate the scene. 

In a later call, the employee explained that the product would continue to be used in the same way. Our ER provided guidance on suitable personal protective equipment (PPE) that could be worn to protect workers from further exposure.

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, upcoming regulatory deadlines 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