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Exemptions to the regulation

The Work Health and Safety Regulation 2011 allows the regulator to grant an exemption from compliance with any provision of the Regulation.

When considering granting an exemption, the regulator will have regard for whether the alternative agreed course of action would provide at least an equivalent level of health and safety to that achieved by complying with the Work Health and Safety Regulation.

The three types of exemptions that may be granted are:

  • general exemptions
  • high risk work licence exemptions
  • major hazard facility exemptions.

The regulator may grant an exemption to a specific person or to a class of persons.

Nationally agreed principles

Australian state and territory regulators have agreed to national principles for granting exemptions from requirements in the WHS Regulation. The principles will guide the granting, refusal, amendment or cancellation of an exemption by Workplace Health and Safety Queensland.

An application for an exemption must be made in writing. For more information about general exemptions, please call 1300 362 128.

Current exemptions

The Globally Harmonised System for the Classification and Labelling of Chemicals (the GHS) commenced in Queensland on 1 January 2017.

A five year period was provided to allow manufacturers and importers to transition to the new labelling system GHS. The previous labelling requirements are outlined in the National Code of Practice for the Labelling of Workplace Substances [NOHSC: 2012 (1994)] (NOHSC) or the Australian Code for the Transport of Dangerous Goods by Road and Rail, 7th Edition approved by the Australian Transport Council (ADG Code).

Due to concerns about non-GHS labelled stock in the supply chain on 1 January 2017 a number of exemptions are required to ensure a safe, fair and smooth transition from the NOHSC and ADG Code labelling requirements to the GHS labelling requirements.

Supplier exemption

This exemption applies to the class of persons to whom section 338 of the WHS Regulation applies (the 'supplier').

Under section 338 of the WHS Regulation the supplier must not supply a hazardous chemical to another workplace if the supplier knows or ought reasonably to know that the hazardous chemical is not correctly labelled under section 335.

Under this exemption suppliers can continue to supply non-GHS labelled hazardous chemicals manufactured or imported before 1 January 2017 provided the chemicals are labelled in accordance with the NOHSC or the ADG Code.

PCBU ('end user') exemption

This exemption applies to the class of persons to whom section 341(2) of the WHS Regulation applies (i.e. the person conducting the business or undertaking who is an 'end user').

This exemption allows PCBUs or end-users to continue to use, store and handle non-GHS labelled hazardous chemicals manufactured or imported before 1 January 2017 and labelled in accordance with the NOHSC or the ADG Code.

Class exemption—notification of licensed asbestos removal work due to flooding or severe weather conditions

The regulator has granted a class exemption to remove the requirement for licensed asbestos removalists to notify the regulator before carrying out licensed asbestos removal work if the work is necessary due to flooding or severe weather conditions (section 466, WHS Regulation).

This class exemption took effect on 16 March 2018 and is in effect until 15 March 2023.

House removal companies seeking to relocate houses containing asbestos may apply to the regulator for an exemption from the prohibition on transportation of asbestos containing material (ACM).

To date, the regulator has granted exemptions to individual businesses with the exemption being subject to strict conditions to ensure the risks are managed properly.

Exemptions granted to businesses relocating houses have been granted subject to the following conditions:

  1. The exemption holder must ensure any ACM or presumed ACM in the structure is identified by a competent person and recorded in a register which must be readily available during work to which this exemption applies.
  2. The exemption holder must ensure any ACM or material presumed to be ACM that is likely to be damaged or disturbed during work to which this exemption applies is removed from the structure before it is transported.
  3. The exemption holder must ensure any friable asbestos or friable ACM installed or fixed in the structure is removed in accordance with the WHS Regulation before the structure is transported regardless or whether it is likely to be damaged or disturbed during the work which this exemption applies.
  4. The exemption holder must ensure controls are used to prevent damage to any ACM, and to prevent any ACM falling out of, or from, the structure during the work to which is exemption applies.
  5. During transportation, the exemption holder must inspect the structure to ensure it has not been damaged and that ACM components have not, or are not at risk, of falling from the structure.
  6. The exemption holder must not re-use, or re-install, any asbestos or ACM that has been removed from the structure.

Example of condition 2

An asbestos cement sheet ceiling or wall must not be cut in half as part of preparing a house to be transported. Instead the entire asbestos cement sheet panel must be removed using proper control measures to minimise exposure to airborne asbestos fibres.

Example of condition 3

Friable asbestos backing on sheet vinyl flooring.

Examples of condition 4

  • A structure that has ACM wall sheeting or cladding must have the sheeting or cladding supported from underneath to prevent it from being damaged.
  • Any holes or cracks in ACM cladding must be sealed prior to transporting the structure.
  • Loosely fitted soffits and veranda ceiling panels must be fixed in place or removed.

Examples of condition 5

  • A structure being relocated at a distance that requires more than one day of travelling time would need to be inspected for any damage at the end of each day.
  • A structure being transported over rough or uneven surfaces would need to be inspected at regular intervals.

The following class exemptions have been converted into a permanent arrangement under amendments made to the WHS Regulation that came into effect on 14 November 2013:

  • Intermediate boiler operators are exempt from upgrading to an advance licence class when performing the same class of high risk work that was previously performed under the intermediate licence class.
  • Certain inflatable amusement devices are exempt from design and item registration and annual inspections.
  • Operators with a bridge and gantry crane (remote) certificate are exempt from holding a dogging licence to sling their own loads.