15 Jan A Guide To Emergency Preparedness for Gas-Related Incidents
The UK has a well-maintained and robust energy supply system, and serious incidents and accidents are fortunately rare. However they can occur, and gas-related incidents can pose a serious threat to the health and safety of workers, residents, and the local community.
It is therefore crucial for businesses to mitigate risks and have an effective emergency response procedure in place. Here’s a look at the key steps to maintaining safety standards and the actions to take if a gas supply emergency should occur.
Establish who is responsible for emergency planning
For commercial gas pipelines In the UK, the pipeline operator has a responsibility and duty to prepare emergency procedures for dealing with a major incident involving a pipeline. The local authority also has a duty to prepare an emergency plan for dealing with a major accident in its area.
The emergency plan should not only be drawn up, but tested to ensure that it will be rolled out smoothly in the event of an accident. Furthermore, the local authority and pipeline operator may choose to involve specific groups, such as hospitals, schools, and care homes in their emergency plans.
The plans should include specific information about how all potentially affected people will be warned about the incident.
Industrial premises and sites including factories, mines, quarries, farms, construction sites and sewage works must comply with the general duties of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 in relation to gas fittings.
Commercial, public and domestic sectors including shops, restaurants, schools, hospitals, and private homes must comply with the Gas Safety Regulations 1998 to comply with work on gas fittings, including an up to date CP17 Gas Certificate.
In the event of an emergency, the gas supply should be turned off and the premises evacuated. The relevant authorities should be notified, including the police and the National Gas Emergency Service. Larger organisations and businesses should also have a more detailed emergency response plan in place as best practice.
Make a risk assessment
A site specific risk assessment should be carried out to identify hazardous areas that could be the source of a potential gas leak. This includes areas where natural gas is stored, gas pipework and all gas-fired appliances such as boilers, cookers, heaters, and industrial machines.
This allows you to tailor the plan to address specific concerns, such as warning signs and wayfinding to the nearest emergency exits.
Develop and test a detailed emergency response plan
Create a detailed emergency response plan that sets out step by step instructions and nominates a chain of command. It should include a method of alerting staff to the emergency situation, correct evacuation procedures, safe outdoor meeting points, and a list of emergency contacts.
All staff, including new starts, and regular visitors to the premises should be familiar with the plan, through training sessions and practice drills. Managers and maintenance staff should be familiar with their specific roles and responsibilities, and who they should immediately report to during an emergency scenario.
Establish clear lines of communication
There should be clear communication protocols in place to ensure that all relevant parties are promptly informed of the situation. This includes gas suppliers, emergency services, staff and visitors, service users, and any potentially affected nearby businesses and residents.
Larger premises should have a mass notification system in place, including alarms, digital communications, and internal communications. The relevant contact details should be regularly reviewed to ensure that they are up to date.
All employees should have regular training sessions to keep them up to date with the latest gas safety protocols. This includes following the correct procedures when operating gas appliances, recognising warning signs of gas leaks and reporting any potential issues.
They should also be familiar with emergency warning signals, and the need to respond to instructions in a calm and timely manner. All staff should keep their personal emergency contact details up to date should they be adversely affected by an incident.
The premises should be fitted with approved safety equipment, such as gas leak detectors, smoke alarms, fire extinguishers and first aid kits. There should be nominated staff members who are trained in the safe use of such equipment and the application of first aid. All equipment should be regularly checked to ensure that it is in good working order.
Share the response plan with relevant third parties
Make sure that you work with the local authority, emergency services, and ensure any neighbouring facilities or residents are aware of your emergency plans. This will ensure that they are familiar with the specifics of the situation and can make any contributions or suggestions if necessary.