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Are you a possible major hazard facility?

Major Hazard Facilities (MHFs) are locations such as oil refineries, chemical plants and large fuel and chemical storage sites where large quantities of hazardous materials are stored, handled or processed.

Under section 536 of the WHS Regulation, the operator must notify WHSQ. The facility may be an existing site, a modification to an existing site or a facility under construction. Such workplaces are referred to as a possible major hazard facility and are subject to a determination process to assess whether the workplace should be licensed as a major hazard facility.

The table below provides a selection of MHF thresholds, the 10% threshold and example of the types of workplaces that may need to notify as a possible MHF.

Material MHF threshold (schedule 15) 10% threshold quantity Possible facilities captured
Ammonia, anhydrous, liquefied, UN1005 200 tonne 20 tonne Larger meatworks, Big N sites for rural industry
Arsenic pentoxide UN1559 10 tonne 1 tonne Timber treatment chemical/ fungicide manufacturer/supplier
Chlorine UN1017 25 tonne 2.5 tonne Larger water treatment plants
LP gases 200 tonne 20 tonne LPG distribution centres
Methane or natural gas 200 tonne 20 tonne LNG plant
(greater than 90%)
50 tonne 5 tonne Manufacturing
Hydrogen UN 1049 50 tonne 5 tonne Power generators
Liquids that meet the criteria for class 3 packing group II or III 50 000 tonne 5000 tonne Regional fuel depots/distribution facilities- e.g. regional port areas
Toxic solids and liquids (classified as toxic e.g. Oral LD50 5-50 mg/kg 200 tonne 20 tonne Agricultural and veterinary product distributors and related transport depots
Toxic solids and liquids (classified as very toxic e.g. Oral LD50 < 5 mg/kg 20 tonne 2 tonne
1 tonne = 1000 kilograms

Why do I have to notify?

The intent of notification is to ensure that all possible major hazard facilities are made known to the Regulator.

What does the determination process involve?

The determination decision is based on the potential for a major incident to occur at the facility having regard to any relevant matter, including:

  • the quantity and combination of schedule 15 chemicals present or likely to be present at the facility
  • the type of activity at the facility that involves the schedule 15 chemicals
  • land use and other activities in the surrounding area.

The Regulator may also hold an inquiry if a notification discloses, or if for some other reason the Regulator reasonably suspects, that the operator of the facility may not be a suitable person to operate the facility.

Proposed facilities

A facility that anticipates having chemicals in excess of the threshold quantity should notify in sufficient time to comply with the Regulation. For example, if the facility is at the early design stage, plans for the facility may not be available and the number of workers and the types/amounts of schedule 15 chemicals may not be accurately known. The initial notification information may simply comprise design options under consideration, indications of the number of workers and estimates of the quantities of schedule 15 chemicals likely to be present. Dates that should be included are the:

  • earliest date for introduction of schedule 15 chemicals
  • earliest date for beneficial production
  • earliest date that the facility may exceed the MHF threshold quantities.

Early notification facilitates the safety case and licensing processes.

Find out more about development applications for possible major hazard facilities.

More information

More detailed information on the notification and determination process including examples of calculating the quantity of schedule 15 chemicals is available in Safe Work Australia's guideline, Guide for Major Hazard Facilities: Notification and Determination.

Additional national major hazard facility guides are available from Safe Work Australia.

View further information about major hazard facilities.