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Nuclear site health and safety

The Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR) is Great Britain’s (GB) regulator for health and safety at GB nuclear licensed sites.

This core ONR purpose, defined in The Energy Act 2013 part 3 as nuclear site health and safety (NSH&S), has been commonly referred to as conventional health and safety (CHS). ONR is also the enforcing authority for fire safety at licensed sites in accordance with the Energy Act and the provisions for fire safety contained within the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 (FSO) and the Fire (Scotland) Act 2005 (FSA).

ONR regulates NSH&S at the 35 licensed nuclear sites in GB. This includes operating reactors, fuel cycle facilities, waste management and decommissioning sites, as well as licensed and, in part, authorised defence sites (where we regulate the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974).

We also regulate the design and construction of new nuclear facilities, including the supply chain. 

The relevant statutory provisions for NSH&S are contained within the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 and associated statutory instruments (SIs). Many SIs have associated approved codes of practice (ACoP), which are free to download from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).

Working with other regulators

ONR works closely with HSE, which is the national regulator for workplace health and safety (excluding nuclear licensed sites). HSE sets the strategy, policy and legal framework for health and safety in GB.

We also work collaboratively with other regulators, agencies and government departments to ensure the most appropriate organisation intervenes. We do this by setting arrangements, where laws overlap, to:

  • promote cooperation
  • minimise duplication
  • coordinate on joint regulatory activities
  • share information and intelligence

Our role as part of a competent authority

Under the Control of Major Accident Hazards Regulations 2015 (COMAH) we regulate major hazards on nuclear facilities by working jointly, as a competent authority, with:

  • HSE
  • The Environment Agency
  • The Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA)
  • Natural Resources Wales (NRW)

Details of this cooperation can be found in our joint Memorandum of Understanding.

Activities of ONR's NSH&S and fire safety teams

As a regulator, we aim to prevent workplace death, injury or ill health in the nuclear industry. We achieve this by using a variety of methods to influence change and help people manage risks at work. These include:

  • Providing advice, information and guidance;
  • Raising awareness in workplaces by influencing and engaging;
  • Operating permissioning and licensing activities across major hazard facilities;
  • Carrying out targeted compliance inspections against UK health, safety and fire relevant statutory provisions, associated ACoPs and guidance;
  • Undertaking investigations; and
  • Taking enforcement action to prevent harm and hold those who break the law to account.

What guides us?

The fundamental principle of health and safety law is that those who create risks are best placed to control them. We take into account the wider impacts of our regulation and ensure any action we take is proportionate, targeted, consistent, transparent and accountable.

Contact us

Please see our Notify ONR page for details on how to:

  • Report a nuclear site RIDDOR;
  • Make an asbestos or construction project notification;
  • Liaise with the COMAH Intervention Manager;
  • Correspond with ONR regarding explosives licensing; or
  • Report statutory examination defects/Adverse Inspection Reports (LOLER, PSSR).

We also provide details on how to report any health and safety concerns, complaints or whistleblowing about the nuclear sector.

For all other topics check ONR's general Contact us page.