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Hazchem and the law

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Classification of workplace hazardous chemicals

Under the Work Health and Safety Regulation 2011 (PDF, 2.53 MB), hazardous chemicals must be classified according to the globally harmonised system for the classification and labelling of chemicals (GHS).

Safety obligations that existed under previous legislation for hazardous substances and dangerous goods at workplaces are now incorporated into the safety obligations for hazardous chemicals. The GHS/ADG quick guide (PDF, 2218.52 KB) provides an example of GHS and ADG Code labelling, comparable symbols and a quick reference to dangerous goods and compatibility in storage.

Safety duties

Chapter 7.1 of the WHS regulation regulates hazardous chemicals and imposes duties on manufacturers, importers and suppliers of hazardous chemicals in relation to classification, packing and labelling, safety data sheets, and disclosure of chemical identities. In addition, it prohibits the supply of certain carcinogenic substances.

Person conducting a business or undertaking

    A person conducting a business or undertaking (PCBU) at a workplace, which uses, handles, stores or generates hazardous chemicals, must ensure that:
    • all hazardous chemicals are correctly labelled
    • safety data sheets applying to hazardous chemicals are obtained, updated as necessary and made accessible
    • a register of all hazardous chemicals at the workplace is provided and maintained
    • health monitoring is conducted where there is a significant risk of exposure for a worker using, storing or handling specific hazardous chemicals in a workplace
    • information, training, instruction and supervision is provided to workers who may be exposed to hazardous chemicals.

    A PCBU must also implement risk control measures to:

    • contain risks of a leak or a spill
    • protect containers and pipes from damage
    • keep hazardous chemicals stable
    • manage any risks of physical or chemical reactions
    • prevent fire and explosion
    • control risks from storage and handling systems (e.g. packages, tanks and vessels)
    • ensure that an emergency plan and safety equipment is provided
    • ensure that atmospheric concentrations of substances or mixtures do not exceed the exposure standard
    • manage risks from hazardous atmospheres particularly where the concentration of flammable vapour exceeds 5% of the lower explosive limit
    • keep the amount of flammable and combustible substances at the lowest practicable quantity.

    A PCBU at a workplace which stores, handles or processes hazardous chemicals above the manifest quantity in schedule 11 must:

    Manufacturers, importers and suppliers

    Manufacturers, importers and suppliers of hazardous chemicals must:

    • ensure that all such goods are safe for their use, storage and handling
    • provide information regarding safe use, storage and handling with the hazardous chemicals, as well as safety data sheets for each type of goods supplied
    • provide a label on all containers.

    Major hazard facilities

    Major hazard facilities (MHF) are locations that store above threshold quantities of chemicals listed in schedule 15 of the Work Health and Safety Regulation 2011, or are determined as a major hazard facility after an inquiry process.

    Manifest quantity workplaces

    Workplaces that use, handle, store or generate hazardous chemicals above the manifest quantities specified in schedule 11 of the Work Health and Safety Regulation 2011 (PDF, 2.53 MB) are required to notify the regulator in writing.

    A workplace that stores, handles and uses hazardous chemicals in excess of manifest quantities is referred to as a manifest quantity workplace (MQW).

    Notification is required:

    • immediately after it is known that schedule 11 hazardous chemicals are to be used, handled or stored at the workplace or at least 14 days beforehand
    • immediately after it is known that there will be a change in the risk of using, handling or storing schedule 11 hazardous chemicals or at least 14 days beforehand
    • as soon as practicable after schedule 11 hazardous chemicals are no longer used, handled or stored at the workplace.

    You only need to re-notify if there is a significant change in the risk (e.g. change in the quantity and/or processes).

    Workplaces that are required to notify as an MQW under the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 (PDF, 833 KB) must provide information under section 348 includes:

    • a description of the hazardous chemical related activities
    • a copy of the manifest, which must be compliant with schedule 12.

    This additional information can be provided using Form 73 – Notification of a manifest quantity workplace (Smart Form) to assist workplaces in making this notification to WHSQ. An Example manifest for hazardous chemicals (DOC, 345.5 KB) is provided to help workplaces.

    Additionally all MQWs must submit a copy of their emergency plan which addresses incidents involving hazardous chemicals (e.g. leaks, spills, fires and explosions) to the Queensland Fire and Emergency Services via a central email address of QFESEMPlaning@qfes.qld.gov.au.

    Flammable and combustible liquids licence abolished

    The safe storage and handling of flammable and combustible liquids is covered by requirements in Chapter 7.1 of the WHS Regulation (hazardous chemicals). Flammable and combustible liquids (FCL) licences administered by local governments was abolished in 2011.

    Information on environmentally relevant activities is still provided by the Department of Environment and Heritage Protection or the relevant local authority.

Last updated
12 September 2017

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