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Chemsafe

Chemsafe is the UK chemical industry’s voluntary scheme for providing expert advice to the emergency services in the event of a chemical emergency.

The scheme is administered by the Chemical Industries Association and is designed to deliver a rapid and co-ordinated response following a chemical incident that minimises the risks to people, the environment, assets and reputation. Under the chemical industry’s Responsible Care initiative, companies must ensure that information and practical assistance (if possible) is always available for their products during transport and distribution incidents.

Chemsafe sets out performance standards for responding to emergencies based on the following response levels:

  • Level 1 - Provision of information remote from the incident scene

  • Level 2 - Provision of technical advice at the incident scene

  • Level 3 - Provision of practical assistance at the incident scene

Chemsafe and the National Chemical Emergency Centre (NCEC)

Funded by the Department for Transport and Chemical Industries Association, the National Chemical Emergency Centre has delivered the Level 1 emergency response component of Chemsafe for over forty years through a dedicated telephone number, free at the point of use and provided only to the emergency services and other nominated organisations. The service is permanently operational.

To help operate this service, the National Chemical Emergency Centre maintains a database of company contact details and product information such as safety data sheets for all chemicals, not just those classified as hazardous. In addition, the Centre provides training to the emergency services in hazardous materials response and how to use the Chemsafe scheme. Although Chemsafe was primarily intended to cover distribution incidents, the emergency responders at the National Chemical Emergency Centre will provide advice to the emergency services on any incident involving chemicals from minor spillages in homes and workplaces to major disasters.

Chemsafe provides:

  • Free scientific advice at the point of use, available by phone 24/7/365
  • Rapid access to chemical information
  • Access to a team of chemical experts and a large database of chemical product information, including products no longer manufactured
  • Access to information on products manufactured in other European countries due to the National Chemical Emergency Centre’s association with other national response centres across Europe (Cefic's International Chemical Transport Emergency (ICE) programme)
  • Activation of product specific mutual aid schemes where applicable

Eligible responders can obtain the Chemsafe number by contacting the National Chemical Emergency Centre. For more information contact Chemsafe@ricardo.com.

Additional resources available through Chemsafe

A number of Chemsafe member companies have operate a Chemsafe Response Network that will provide Level 2 assistance to the emergency services on behalf of another Chemsafe member company that is not at the scene. Normally, this assistance is available only in the event of a road transport incident and where the owner/supplier of the goods is a Chemsafe member company. The scheme can be activated directly between companies or by the Chemsafe Longstop centre.

For certain chemicals that may pose particular problems, or for details on the special equipment that may be required at an incident, there are a number of product specific mutual aid schemes. These schemes may be activated by the owner/supplier of the goods, or by the Chemsafe Longstop centre. For more information on products covered by these schemes, contact the Chemsafe Longstop centre.

The NCEC Chemsafe Longstop centre can obtain information and advice on products originating outside the UK via the International Chemical Environment (ICE) scheme, which includes a network of chemical emergency response centres across Europe.

For further information see Chemsafe or email ncecer@ricardo.com or fax 01235 753657