Under work health and safety regulation you must prepare an emergency plan to reduce the effects of an emergency involving hazardous chemicals at your place of work.
The purpose of emergency planning is to reduce the effects of an emergency that occurs at a workplace involving hazardous chemicals.
An emergency may involve:
- an explosion
- the harmful reaction or the evolution of flammable, corrosive or toxic gases and vapours
- the escape, spillage or leakage of a hazardous chemical.
The Work Health and Safety Regulation 2011 (WHS Regulation) has specific duties in regard to emergency plans at workplaces.
Under section 43 of the WHS Regulation, all workplaces have an obligation to prepare, maintain and implement an emergency plan that provides for the following:
- emergency procedures including an effective response to an emergency
- evacuation procedures
- notifying emergency service organisations at the earliest opportunity
- medical treatment and assistance
- effective communications
- testing of the emergency procedures including the frequency of testing
- information, training and instruction to relevant workers in relation to implementing the emergency procedures.
Preparing an emergency plan
When preparing an emergency plan, the PCBU must consider all relevant matters including:
- the nature of the work being carried out at the workplace
- the nature of the hazards at the workplace
- the size and location of the workplace
- the number and composition of the workers and other persons at the workplace.
Section 43 applies to all workplaces and is not related to quantity of hazardous chemicals.
Under section 359 of the WHS Regulation, a PCBU must ensure the workplace is provided with fire protection and firefighting equipment that is designed and built for the types of hazardous chemicals at the workplace:
- in the quantities in which they are used, handled, generated or stored, and
- the conditions under which they are used, handled, generated or stored, having regard to:
- the fire load of the hazardous chemicals
- the fire load from other sources
- the compatibility of the hazardous chemicals with other substances and mixtures at the workplace.
Fire protection and firefighting equipment
In Queensland, fire protection and firefighting equipment must be compatible with equipment used by the Queensland Fire and Rescue Services. It must be properly installed, tested and maintained with a dated record kept of the latest testing results and maintenance until the next test is conducted (refer to section 359).
If a part of the equipment provided at the workplace becomes unserviceable or inoperative, the implications must be assessed and alternative measures are to be taken to manage the risks. Affected equipment must be returned to full operation as soon as practicable.
Section 360 of the WHS Regulation requires that equipment is always available at the workplace for use in an emergency.
Manifest quantity workplaces
Section 361 of the WHS Regulation requires manifest quantity workplaces to provide a copy of the emergency plan prepared under part 3.2, division 4 for the workplace to the primary emergency service organisation (i.e. Queensland Fire and Rescue Service). A manifest quantity workplace is a workplace that uses, stores or handles hazardous chemicals in quantities exceeding the prescribed manifest quantity in column 5 of schedule 11.
This is in addition to the requirements to:
- provide an emergency services manifest and site plan at the workplace (refer to Manifest requirements for hazardous chemicals (PDF, 0.83 MB) )
- notify the regulator.
The Queensland Fire and Rescue Service (QFRS) provides further details on:
- emergency plans for manifest quantity workplaces
- the process for providing a copy of the emergency plan for review
- locating the manifest in a suitable location for emergency services.
Major hazard facilities
Major hazard facilities also have specific duties for emergency planning under the WHS Regulation.
- Chapter 6 Emergency preparedness in Managing risks of hazardous chemicals in the workplace code of practice 2021 (PDF, 1.21 MB)
- Emergency planning: A guideline for hazardous industry (PDF, 4.56 MB)
- Emergency Management sections of the various Australian Standards for dangerous goods
- AS3745: Planning for emergencies in facilities.