One-Third of NZ businesses use hazardous substances. Does yours?

Tuesday January 30, 2018 15:43

...  What the changing rules mean for you

Hazardous substances are any product or chemical that has explosive, flammable, oxidising, toxic, corrosive or ecotoxic (harmful to the environment) properties.

Is your business in one of the following 5 categories that are commonly using hazardous substances?

  1. Manufacturing & Factories
  2. Farmers & Growers
  3. Small retail businesses such as nail bars, hairdressers, printers, screen-printing, painters
  4. Automotive businesses such as mechanics, fibreglassing, spray painting, collision repairers, fuel storage
  5. Warehousing & Storage of substances such as aerosols, peroxides, pool chemicals, painting supplies, printing supplies

On 1 December 2017 the new WorkSafe Hazardous Substance Regulations came into effect. The changes are part of the Government’s determination to improve health and safety for New Zealand workplaces that use hazardous substances, including reducing long term occupational health issues and reducing illness.

“The reforms target a reduction in immediate harm and longer term illness caused by the work-related use of hazardous substances. Each year in New Zealand there are an estimated 600-900 deaths and 30,000 cases of serious ill health from work-related diseases. Many of these are due to exposure to hazardous substances. This is in addition to the cases of immediate harm caused by accidents and the improper use of these substances.”
Source: Worksafe

Even if your type of business is not in one of the categories listed above, take a moment to read the rest of this article, particularly the following checklist.

Does Your Business Have Hazardous Substances? Your 9 Step Checklist

  1. Itemise: Develop a list of all substances on site
    • Whether they are hazardous or not, inventory them all in a master list
    • Note whether the substances are hazardous
    • If you have the same substance in different pack sizes, a separate line is required on the inventory register for each pack size
    • Provide the controls that you need to apply
    • Note the location of each hazardous substance
    • How?:
      • If you are a Securo client, simply use Securo Form #31
      • Otherwise, you can do it online via the WorkSafe website (you get a PIN number to keep your data safe - don’t forget your PIN!)
  2. Safety Data Sheet: Ensure you have a Safety Data Sheet for each hazardous substance.
    • For each hazardous substance in your Hazardous Substances Register:
      • Enter the classifications and United Nations (UN) number
      • Enter the HSNO HSR (Hazardous Substances Register) number which tells you that it’s legally allowed in the country
    • Your chemical supplier is legally required to give you an up-to-date NZ compliant Safety Data Sheet (SDS) for those substances you purchase
  3. Risk Assessment: Perform a risk assessment of the substances based on the hierarchy of controls
    • Eliminate? Can you change the process and eliminate the use of the substance?
    • Substitute? Can you substitute the substance for a less hazardous one?
    • Isolate? Can you change the way you use the substance?
    • Provide Administrative Controls, i.e. written procedures for use, dealing with spills (Securo SMP 043) and other incidents, etc.
    • PPE (Personal Protective Equipment): This control is usually the last resort
    • Controls: The WorkSafe Hazardous Substances Register printout will indicate what controls are required for your list of hazardous substances.
  4. Training: Determine what training staff need to have to enable them to handle the substance safely
    • Include emergency procedures
    • Include a plan for disposal of the substance
  5. Storage: Must be suitable for the chemical
    • Eg “bunded” with a lip around it to contain it in a bunker, eg with bulk containers. Threshold quantities classes 2, 3, 4, 5.
    • Test location certificates last a year. 6.1a, 6.1b, 6.1c, 8.2a, 8.2b need a location compliance certificate which lasts 3 years which certifies that “yes, those substances are stored appropriately”
  6. Signage: Are warning signs in place?
    • Ensure you have warning signs where the hazardous are stored, and at the entry points for the sites (HAZCHEM signs with pictograms)
    • Provide instructions on what to do in an emergency
    • Best practice is to also include the HAZCHEM code for the fire service (eg LPG would be 3YE)
  7. Labelling: Is your labelling accurate?
    • Ensure that containers are correctly labelled
    • If you decant into another container, ensure that container is labelled
    • Hazardous waste containers must be labelled
    • Labels must be legible and clearly visible (eg turn the container around so the label faces outward)
  8. Emergency planning: Check your emergency plan extends beyond fire evacuation
    • Have a plan for “reasonably foreseeable emergencies” such as spills, medical emergencies
    • Include:
      • Site schematic (location on site of hazardous substances)
      • Location of Emergency equipment
        • Fire Extinguishers, First Aid Kits, Spill Kits, etc
      • Location of SDS, Emergency Procedures, eg, spill procedures
  9. Tracking: Do your substances need to be  tracked?
    • Certain hazardous substances must be under the control of a Certified Handler, or under lock and key at all times
    • For certain substances you have a “requirement of records”. For example TDI “Toluene Diisocyanate”, which is a foaming agent is very toxic, and so are embalming fluids

Need more help?

Download the guide from entitled “Working safely with hazardous substances”:

Are you able to answer “Yes” to ALL of the following 5 questions?

  1. Are you aware of any and all of the hazardous substances in your workplace?
  2. Did you know that you cannot store some hazardous substance classes with other classes?
    • For example, fumes from two different substances may mix in the air and combust, or create a poisonous gas, or a liquid chemical dripping from an upper shelf onto a certain chemical on a lower shelf could cause a chemical reaction
  3. Do you have Safety Data Sheets (SDS) for all your hazardous substances?
  4. Are ALL your workers trained to understand the handling and use of the hazardous substances on site?
  5. Are your hazardous substances stored and labelled correctly?

Were you able to answer “Yes” to ALL of the 5 questions? If so, well done!

If not, don’t worry, we are here to help. Call Securo on 0800 55 33 44 or email