The duty to submit safety reports was imposed on firms operating "top-tier" hazardous installations by the Control of Industrial Major Accident Hazard (CIMAH) Regulations 1984, which implemented the 1982 EEC "Seveso" Directive. The reports should evaluate the on- and off-site risks posed by the installations and spell out the accident prevention and mitigation measures adopted by operators.
The reports were due in by July 1989, and a total of 331 were submitted to the HSE by August 1989. Last May, a parliamentary answer revealed that only 86 had by then been accepted by the HSE as satisfying the full information requirements prescribed by the CIMAH regulations (ENDS Report 196, pp 31-2).
By the end of 1991, however, the number of reports held to satisfy these requirements had increased over the intervening seven months by just 18 to a total of 104, according to Mr Jackson. This suggests either that the HSE lacks the resources to complete a detailed scrutiny of the outstanding reports, or that it is struggling to get companies to provide supplementary information, or both. As reported last May, HSE officials have revealed that serious deficiencies are common to many reports.