Managing Hazardous substances

July 1st, 2011

Making sure the right procedures are observed when dealing with hazardous substances is important for both the safety of workers and the health of the environment. Knowing what is expected when dealing with hazardous materials, what to do in an emergency and who to notify of an accident, is paramount for keeping risks surrounding the use of hazardous material to a minimum.

OHS issues

The best way to avoid accidents is to clearly label all hazardous materials, ensuring everyone will know exactly how to deal with the contents. Where practical, the label must contain information about intrinsic health, physical and environmental hazards of the chemical. Additional information about hazards, first aid and emergency could be available on a separate sign where space permits. Under the draft Work Health Safety Regulations a hazardous chemical is correctly labelled if in English and including the following information:

  1. Product name
  2. The proper shipping name and UN number if the chemical is a dangerous goods and the ADG code requires the label to include the proper shipping name and UN number
  3. Contact details of either the Australian importer or manufacturer
  4. Ingredients
  5. Any hazard pictograms consistent with the correct classification of the chemical or a class label that complies with the ADG Code
  6. Any hazard statement, signal word and precautionary statement that is consistent with the correct classification of the chemical
  7. The expiry date of the chemical, if applicable
  8. Label that says: ‘Additional information is listed in the Safety Data Sheet’.


Environmental issues

For general enquiries, advice and to report incidents of pollution, businesses dealing with hazardous materials should call the Environmental Line. This line also has a 24 hour emergency response link, should a dangerous situation arise. If you suspect someone of incorrectly or dangerously handling, storing or using hazardous materials, visit secureNSW. This site also provides chemical security information. If unsure of any chemical properties or related resources and equipment, visit the OEH hazmat register, which contains information direct from suppliers. If an enquiry relates directly to asbestos issues, visit the website for more information on risks and removal procedures.

For information about uniform national requirements for transporting hazardous materials, see the Dangerous Goods (Road and Rail Transport) Act 2008. This will ensure the proper classification, packaging, labelling and transport of goods is observed, reducing risk to people, property and the environment. It’s important to note that dangerous goods licenses are required for certain levels of bulk dangerous goods transportation. To understand where licensing of vehicles and drivers is required, visit the dangerous goods register. Radiation is also common concern when dealing with hazardous materials, and issues are dealt with in the Radiation Control Act 1990in NSW, (refer to relevant legislation in your state)which aims to protect people from exposure to ionizing and non-ionising radiation. For more information about regulation of the use of radioactive substances and radiation equipment, ┬árefer to the relevant agency in your state.