How to decide if you need a dangerous goods safety adviser (DGSA) and what their role is.
This applies to businesses that transport dangerous goods by road, rail or inland waterways.
It helps you to understand:
- if you need to appoint a dangerous goods safety adviser (DGSA)
- the responsibilities of the DGSA
- how to train the DGSA
Do you need to appoint a dangerous goods safety adviser (DGSA)?
You must appoint a DGSA if your business regularly transports, packs, fills, loads or unloads dangerous goods. This applies to goods sent by:
- inland waterway
DGSAs are not expected to monitor procedures related to the carriage of dangerous goods by sea or air.
There are exemptions to the requirement to appoint a DGSA, depending on how often your business handles dangerous goods and in what quantities.
Exemptions from the requirement to appoint a DGSA
In Great Britain and Northern Ireland there are some exemptions from the requirement to appoint a DGSA.
The exemption applies if:
- a business is involved in the carriage of dangerous goods in quantities per transport unit that are smaller than those referred to in 188.8.131.52, 184.108.40.206, and in chapter 3.3, 3.4 and 3.5
- if the main or secondary activities of the undertaking are not the carriage or related loading or unloading of dangerous goods, but the undertaking does occasionally engage in the national carriage or the related loading or unloading of dangerous goods posing little danger or risk of pollution
- if that carriage operation complies with the conditions specified in the Road Derogation 11 (RO-bi-UK-1) The crossing of public roads, as set out in the Carriage of Dangerous Goods: Approved Derogations and Transitional Provisions document 2012
- if that carriage operation complies with the conditions specified in 1.1.3
The exemptions do not apply to international carriage.
Consignors only exemption
The rules that applied until 31 December 2018 said that you didn’t have to appoint a DGSA if you only acted as a consignor of dangerous goods.
This has now changed and businesses that only act as consignors have until 31 December 2022 to appoint a DGSA.
This doesn’t apply if you have a derogation from DfT.
The current national legislation containing this requirement is the Carriage of Dangerous Goods and Use of Transportable Pressure Equipment Regulations 2009 as amended. Separate but similar legislation has been made available in Northern Ireland.
Who to appoint as a DGSA
It is up to the employer to decide whether to train one of their own staff to be a DGSA or to contract a third party to act as a DGSA.
The DGSA must have the time and resources to undertake their functions properly. A business that operates on several sites or deals with large or complex operations may need more than one DGSA.
Responsibilities of the DGSA
The responsibilities of the DGSA include:
- monitoring compliance with the requirements governing the carriage of dangerous goods
- advising undertakings on the carriage of dangerous goods
- preparing an annual report about the performance of the undertaking in transporting dangerous goods
- investigating any accidents or infringements of regulations and preparing reports
- monitoring the provision of training and advice to other staff
- reporting of incidents and accidents to the Department for Transport
You can find a full list of responsibilities in chapter 220.127.116.11.
DGSA training and certification
DGSAs must pass written examinations. On passing the examination a DGSA certificate, valid for 5 years, is issued specifying the mode(s) of transport (road, rail, inland waterway) and the classes of dangerous goods that the DGSA is qualified to monitor and advise on.
A DfT approved examination and certificate-issuing regime applies throughout the United Kingdom. DGSA certificates are mutually recognised in all EU member states and in any non-EU states which are signatories to RID, ADR or ADN.
There is no legal requirement for DGSAs to undertake training, and DfT does not keep a list of recommended DGSA training providers. The form and type of training undertaken is a matter for the individual candidate and the employer to decide, based on the candidate’s knowledge and experience.
Training courses for DGSAs are run by independent providers and trade associations and course lengths vary from 2 to 5 days. They are not required to be approved by the DfT. The fees charged are a matter for the training provider.
Obtaining a DGSA certificate
The DfT has appointed the Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA) as its agent to organise, set and mark the examinations and issue the DGSA certificates in the UK. A DGSA certificate is issued to a candidate on successfully passing DfT approved examinations.
The examinations relate to one or more specific modes of transport – road, rail or inland waterway – covering the classes of dangerous goods and would be recognised by all countries that have signed up to either RID, ADR or ADN.
Scottish Qualifications Authority
The Optima Building
58 Robertson Street
Tel: 0345 270 0123
Renewing a DGSA certificate
A DGSA certificate must be renewed every 5 years. This is done by the holder passing relevant examinations which can be taken in the last year of the certificate’s validity.
The new certificate will be valid for 5 years from the date of expiry of the previous certificate.
DGSA certificates are only issued or revalidated after successful completion of the approved examinations and not in relation to previous knowledge or experience in the field of the transport of dangerous goods.
It is the view of the UK competent authority that certificate holders seeking to revalidate their certificates must successfully undertake the case study specified in 18.104.22.168.4 (b) as part of the revalidation process.
Renewal should not be left until the last minute – candidates will receive their certificates no later than eight 8 weeks after the exam date.
The European Commission's and the Department for Transport's interpretation of the term 'transport related unloading' found in regulations (note 25).
This note sets out the interpretation of ‘transport-related unloading’ and the requirement for those carrying it out to have a dangerous goods safety adviser.
Interpretation of 'transport-related unloading'
The Carriage of Dangerous Goods and Use of Transportable Pressure Equipment Regulations 2009 (as amended) directly reference the Dangerous Goods Directive 2008/68/EC and its technical annexes (ADR and RID).
This brings into scope the requirement for those who carry out transport-related unloading of dangerous goods (ADR/RID 22.214.171.124) to have a dangerous goods safety adviser (DGSA). Previous domestic legislation applied the DGSA Directive 96/35/EC which excluded certain unloaders from scope.
This guidance note sets out the Department for Transport’s policy interpretation of the ADR/RID 126.96.36.199 requirements.
2. The European Commission’s view
Some time ago the Commission’s lawyers considered how the meaning of ‘transport related unloading’ may be interpreted when applying Directive 96/35/EC. This was published in document E/3/EMM/mh D(2000) 0188-00, which is included in section 4 below.
Their view was that ‘undertakings which unload dangerous goods at the final destination when such operation does not affect transport safety, such as a supermarket chain which unloads goods, coming into its stores’ do not fall within the definition of transport related unloading. Therefore they do not require a DGSA.
3. The Department for Transport’s interpretation
The Department for Transport agreed with the view of the Commission’s lawyers and believes this interpretation is still appropriate.
Where dangerous goods are unloaded at their final destination, or any final consignee, these undertakings will continue to be out of scope of ADR/RID 188.8.131.52.
‘Hub and spoke’ type operations and commercial warehouses storing dangerous goods will be in scope and 184.108.40.206 will therefore apply.
This decision when considered alongside the existing derogation on retail distribution by road and the exemptions in ADR 220.127.116.11 means the impact of the change brought about by CDG 2009 has, we believe, a small effect on UK industry as a whole.
4. European Commission Document E/3/EMM/mh D(2000) 0188-00
Council Directive 96/35/EC –Scope of Application – Rev. 1
Council Directive 96/35/EC sets minimum requirements for the appointment of safety advisers.
Article 1 of Directive 96/35/EC states that “undertakings the activities of which include the transport, or the related loading or unloading, of dangerous good by road, rail or inland waterway shall each appoint one or more safety advisers….”.
In addition, Article 2(d) defines “activities” as being “the transport….together with the related loading and unloading”.
Article 3 of the Directive 96/35/EC states that “The member States may provide that this Directive shall not apply to undertakings:
b) …the activities of which concern the quantities in each transport unit smaller than those defined in marginals 10010 and 10011 in Annex B to Directive 94/55/EC.
In the record of the Council meeting the Council and the Commission made a statement to the effect that “this Directive covers undertakings involved in the loading and/or unloading of dangerous goods only when such operations affect transport safety; the directive does not cover undertakings which unload the goods at their final destination”.
Given this background, the opinion of the Commission is as follows:
1) The following types of companies do fall within the definition given above:
- a) companies which produce dangerous goods, load and/or transport on own account
- b) companies which produce dangerous goods and fill dangerous goods in container, gas cylinders, other packages, in road tankers, rail tankers, tank vessels but contract out their transport
- c) companies which offer their services for the storage of dangerous goods (since they would presumably also unload the goods for storage)
- d) companies such as port terminal operators which load and unload receptacles containing dangerous goods (containers, tank containers, gas cylinders, other packages) transported or to be transported by road, rail and inland waterway
2) The following types of companies do not fall within the definition given above:
- a) undertakings which unload dangerous goods at their final destination when such operation does not affect transport safety, such as a supermarket chain which unload goods, coming to its stores
- b) undertakings which transport, load or unload small quantities of dangerous good, (smaller then marginal 10010 and 10011) in each transport unit, by road, rail or inland waterway
Finally, member states may require safety advisers to be appointed to the undertakings which are out of the scope of Directive 96/35/EC under the condition that national legislation is in conformity with Directives 94/55/EC and 96/49/EC.
Additional guidance available
- European Agreement concerning the International Carriage of Dangerous Goods by Road (ADR)
- Convention Concerning International Carriage by Rail (RID)
- GOV.UK website for DGSAs
- Emergency Action Code 2019
- Carriage of Dangerous Goods Regulations
Current legal texts
European Agreement Concerning the International Carriage of Dangerous Goods by Road. The Agreement is more commonly known as “ADR” (from Accord Européen Relatif au Transport International des Marchandises Dangereuses par Route): Section 1.8.3 Safety Adviser plus any corrigendum documents.
Annex I of the Convention Concerning International Carriage by Rail (COTIF, from Convention de l’Organisation Intergouvernmentale pour les Transports Internationaux Ferroviaires. It is more commonly known as RID). Annex I is the Regulations Concerning the International Carriage of Dangerous Goods by Rail.
European Agreement concerning the International Carriage of Dangerous Goods by Inland Waterways (ADN)
The Carriage of Dangerous Goods and Use of Transportable Pressure Equipment Regulations 2009 (CDG 2009) as amended by The Carriage of Dangerous Goods and Use of Transportable Pressure Equipment (Amendment) Regulations 2011.
Carriage of Dangerous Goods: Approved Derogations and Transitional Provisions 2012.
Dangerous Goods Emergency Action Code List 2019.
In international carriage Competent Authorities of other States may have a different interpretation of dangerous goods regulations.
Source: Department for Transport
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