To Civil Explosive Economic Operators

Leaving the EU with a deal remains the Government’s top priority; this has not changed. However, we must prepare for every eventuality. As you are aware, the Government has been making extensive preparations for two years for a potential no deal exit.

The UK is strongly committed to the effective and safe management of civil explosives. This will not change after Brexit. HSE’s priority is to maintain an effective regulatory system, which ensures the safe and secure management of civil explosives. We have amended the Explosives Regulations 2014 to ensure the legal framework will remain operable if there is a no-deal Brexit. These amendments are set out in the Product Safety and Metrology etc (Amendment etc.) (EU Exit) Regulations 2019 which will come into force on exit day, should we leave the EU without an agreement.

The civil explosive product safety landscape will not change significantly. This legislation keeps important elements of the current approach. For example, it retains the requirements for conformity assessment and retains the use of standards that give rise to presumptions of conformity with the legislative requirements. However, a no deal exit would have an impact on several areas. These were set out in the government’s technical notices published last summer and we have highlighted some of the key areas, again, below. It is important that you see whether you are affected and consider the steps you would need to take in the event of a potential no deal exit:

Placing civil explosives on the UK market
Civil explosives are ‘placed on the market’ when they are made available on the market for the first time. If you have already placed a civil explosive on the UK market before exit day it can continue circulating after Brexit.

If you manufacture, import or distribute civil explosives that meet the relevant EU regulatory requirements and bear the CE marking you can still place them on the UK market after exit day. This arrangement will be for a limited time. The government will give businesses notice before this period ends.

A new UK framework for conformity assessment will come into effect after exit day. The underlying rules and regulations set out the requirements for conformity assessment for each civil explosive will stay the same. The UKCA mark, a new UK conformity marking will indicate that a product complies with UK regulations and can be placed on the UK market. The UK Explosive Notified Body will become the UK Explosive Approved Body.

Details of the UK conformity mark can be viewed here

UK Distributors and Importers
A UK based economic operator who used to act as a ‘distributor’ may legally, now, be considered an ‘importer’ and may acquire additional legal responsibilities for checking civil explosive product compliance.

If you bring civil explosives into the UK from the EU or EEA and want to place them on the market after exit day your status will change from a ‘distributor’ to an ‘importer’.

You’ll need to:

  • label the civil explosive with your company’s details, including your company’s name, registered trade name or trademark and a contact address (There will be an 18-month transitional period after exit day allowing importers importing civil explosives from the EU or EEA to provide their details on the accompanying documentation rather than on the product itself)
  • make sure that the correct conformity assessment procedures have been carried out for any civil explosives you import
  • make sure that any civil explosive you import carries the correct conformity markings
  • make sure that the manufacturer has drawn up the correct technical documentation and complied with their labeling requirements
  • make sure you do not place a civil explosive you import on the market if you have reason to believe it does not conform with the relevant essential requirements
  • monitor products that you have made available on the market

If you are a distributor whose status does not change, your legal obligations will remain largely unchanged after exit day.

Further guidance is available here

Transfers of civil explosives into GB (or NI)
Any transfers (now imports) of civil explosives into the UK will need a standalone approval from a UK competent authority (Great Britain or Northern Ireland depending on where the transfer ends in the UK) before the civil explosives are imported. Transfers which originate or pass through the EU will still require an Intra Community Transfer (ICT) to transfer explosives for that part of the journey. Applications for a UK transfer document and an EU ICT may be made in parallel as they are independent of each other. ICT documents issued prior to exit for multiple transfers will continue to be recognised by the UK until they expire. Businesses may wish to ensure they have appropriate approvals in place to enable transfers after exit. As the approval of all Member States who are involved in the transfer is required before an ICT is issued it cannot be guaranteed that applications still in process at the time of exit will be issued. In these circumstances, businesses should contact HSE and a GB transfer document may be issued using the information previously provided, subject to the provision of some additional information eg traceability details. The new GB transfer form will be available on HSE’s website in the event of a ‘No Deal’ Brexit.

Traceability of civil explosives in GB (or NI)
The UK will recognise existing site codes on civil explosive products imported to the UK where the site code has been issued by another EU Member State. The UK will not require importers to add a new code. However, to continue effective traceability through the supply chain, all importers will need to contact a UK competent authority (Great Britain or Northern Ireland depending on the place of import) to notify them of any existing site code on the civil explosives being imported. This notification can be done as part of the GB (or NI) Transfer approval form or as a standalone notification. The competent authority will then link this existing code to the UK based importer. Details of the new notification of codes process will be available on HSE’s website in the event of a ‘No Deal’ Brexit.

In the event of the UK leaving the EU with ‘No Deal’ in place, to ensure that UK authorities have access to relevant information relating to the traceability of explosives already on the UK market before exit day, we will be requesting details of all site codes and related traceability information from importers of civil explosives to the UK market before exit day. This information will be requested, as necessary, in due course.

Placing civil explosives on the EU market
All civil explosives placed on the EU internal market after we leave the EU will need to conform to EU goods regulations. Civil explosives are ‘placed on the market’ when they are made available on the EU market for the first time. If you have already placed a civil explosive on the EU/EEA market before exit day then it can continue circulating after Brexit.

The EU Commission has issued guidance on what they consider ‘placed on the market’ to be: https://ec.europa.eu/info/sites/info/files/qa_brexit_industrial_products_en.pdf

After the UK leaves the EU the results of conformity assessment carried out by UK conformity assessment bodies will no longer be recognised in the EU. This is the case even if the assessment was carried out before the exit day. If you are placing a civil explosive on the market after exit day you will need to use an EU-recognised conformity assessment body.

If your civil explosives were assessed by a UK-based notified body, then you could arrange for them to be reassessed by an EU-recognised conformity assessment body before placing on the EU internal market. You can find a list of EU-recognised bodies on the NANDO database. Alternatively, you could arrange for the files to be transferred to an EU recognised body before the UK leaves the EU.

Further guidance is available here

Import and export of civil explosives from the UK
Although we cannot know exactly what each member state will do with respect to checks on the EU border, we need to prepare for the potential impacts that the imposition of third-country controls by member states could have. These impacts are likely to be felt mostly on the Short Straits crossings, where the frequent and closed-loop nature of these mean that both exports and imports would be affected. The Government’s latest analysis indicates that there is a material risk of a period of disruption and therefore delays at the border which could impact on the supply of goods, such as civil explosive consignments, through the channel routes.

Please ensure you have plans in place in the event of any disruption at the border to ensure that civil explosives continue to be safely and securely transported and stored.

HMRC has put in place transitional simplified procedures to make it easier for you to import goods from the EU, which you may find helpful: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/register-for-simplified-import-procedures-if-the-uk-leaves-the-eu-without-a-deal

If you have any enquiries, please contact explosive.enquiries@hse.gov.uk

Yours sincerely

Alison Wellens
Head of Explosives Policy
Health and Safety Executive

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