Chemical companies in Europe are strongly advised – and often legally obliged – to include a telephone number on supply and transport documentation for hazardous goods which can be called to provide emergency response advice during a chemical incident.
The new CEFIC guidelines, which have been adopted by all National Intervention in Chemical Transport Emergencies (ICE) Centres in Europe, detail the fundamental requirements of an emergency response service. They aim to help companies enhance their internal emergency response provisions or guide the procurement of a professional third-party supplier.
Among the core requirements specified by CEFIC is the need to provide robust and reliable telephone infrastructure that can receive and handle calls 24/7, with fast connection to a chemical expert. This restricts the use of mobile phone networks as the sole or primary means of contact.
The guidelines state that the emergency responder should have access to the relevant safety data sheets (SDS) and be able to provide proportional advice tailored to the circumstances of the incident. According to the new guidelines, this should be provided by a trained technical expert, typically a university graduate chemist, who has knowledge and tactical awareness of chemicals, chemical behavior and hazards across a range of incident types.
Advice should be provided in the local language, which is already required by law in many European regions, and connection with local language interpreters must be straightforward. The emergency responder should be able to provide initial advice in the local language in under 10 minutes and further detailed advice in 30 minutes if required.
The guidance also includes features for best practice beyond immediate telephone response, including the recommendation that SDS should be notified with the relevant poison centres. This is already a regulatory obligation in most EU regions.
Daniel Haggarty, head of emergency response for the UK’s National Chemical Emergency Centre (NCEC) led the CEFIC group generating the guidance. Speaking about this, he said:
“In publishing its new guidance, CEFIC and the ICE National Schemes have defined best practice for emergency response in Europe. By following this guidance when implementing or procuring an emergency response service, companies can be confident that a caller will receive immediate advice from a trained professional on how to mitigate the impact of a chemical incident and protect people, the environment, assets and reputation.”
Download the CEFIC Guidance Document
For more than 40 years, NCEC has been the chosen chemical emergency response provider for UK Government emergency services. It also provides 24/7, multilingual emergency response services for over 500 private sector organisations across the world, including 50% of the world’s top 100 chemical companies.
NCEC is running a free online Q&A with Daniel Haggarty on to explain what the new CEFIC guidelines mean for industry and what companies can do to deliver best practice in the emergency response.