Interview with David Hughes, Chair of the Major Hazards Network


After working in industry for 38 years, David Hughes, chair of our Major Hazards Network group,  talks about the networks achievements and why companies find the network a valuable resource in keeping up to date with COMAH requirements.

Tell us a little about yourself:
I am a retired chemical engineer who has spent 38 years in the oil refining and marketing environment with a major oil company. In that time I have had senior management roles in Engineering, Operations Technical Services and Safety Health and Environment in the UK and the USA. My responsibilities included liaising with the HSE, Emergency Services, UK Security Services and Insurance Companies. I was a member of the United Kingdom Petroleum Industries Working Group on Process Safety and represented the Company at the CATCH Major Hazards Network.
On retiring I ran a Training Course for the HSE in Bootle and as one of the founder members of the IOSH Hazardous Industries Group I organised speakers and chaired events.  Soon after, I was asked by Katie Hedges if I would chair the Major Hazards Group as the incumbent John Rowley was leaving the area.

I also represented CATCH at the Chemical Industries Association West Yorkshire Responsible Care Cell and I am also a member of the Energy Institute.

For those that have not heard of the Major Hazards network, please tell us about the network and its objectives:
The CATCH Major Hazards Group comprises Process Safety Specialists from the local industries that are covered by the COMAH Regulations. There are over 30 Upper Tier sites in the local Area .These cover all types of installations for example refineries, Steel Works, Natural Gas producers, liquified gas producers companies, docks and installations that fall under the regulation due to the volume of materials they keep in Warehouses.

What are the networks biggest achievement(s) so far?
We realised that the topics were becoming so diverse that it was necessary to split the group and so the Human Factors Network was formed along with one on Fire and Security which involves the local emergency services.
We have been recognised by the HSE as an influential organisation and they willingly support or Network events and the annual conference with speakers .One of our members assisted the HSE in testing the requirement for companies to enter their data into the COMAH 2015 software which was based on the CATCH STAY IN TUNE IN website.

Why should companies get involved?
Our Annual Conference is attended by 80+ delegates. At this conference we ask our members what topics we should cover and from that list Katie Hedges and I organise speakers .The advantage to our members is that the topics we cover are relevant to them.  Our members predominately work within 1 hour of the CATCH facility and so travelling is not excessive .Not all are members are members of Trade Associations and so are not necessarily getting the advice they need in order to comply in a timely manner .Our networking over a buffet lunch, with other members and speakers, including the HSE is a useful exercise. During the meetings attendees are encouraged to raise topics and other members are more than willing to provide helpful advice.

What are the most common challenges companies face at the moment and how does attending this network help?
For COMAH companies nothing stands still, with resubmissions of Safety Reports and changes in the HSE focus as they learn from their interventions, the Major Hazards Group is one important (and cheap) way to keep up to speed.

If you would like to find out more about the network or CATCH membership pleases email

Lisa Buck


Head Office

Redwood Park Estate
DN41 8TH
Company no. 03837010



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