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One should not fear the substance, only the ignorance that leads to its mishandling.” 

Theodore Gray.

Chemical Management in the workplace

Chemical safety is probably one of the most misunderstood and neglected areas of WHS yet, it one of the most important areas of WHS.  The team at Lisa J Stevens and Associates Pty Ltd can help you with your chemical management storage and handling of hazardous chemicals and/or Dangerous Goods that can assist with meeting legislative and safety compliance.  We can also review the chemical management systems including,

  • policies and procedures,
  • chemical inventories and hazardous chemical registers
  • identify signage,
  • training,
  • and emergency procedures required on site to minimise the risk to people, assets and environment.
Hazardous Chemicals vs Dangerous Goods 

Broadly, chemicals can be catagorised into 4 different groups 

Non Hazardous

Hazardous - are those chemicals, classified under the GHS, which which meet the definition of hazardous chemical in accordance with the WHS and OHS Regulations as (note in under the OHS Regulations 2017 (Vic)  Hazardous Chemicals are called Hazardous substances). Hazardous chemicals have properties with the potential to do harm to human or animal health, the environment, or capable of damaging property.

Dangerous Good - Classified under the Australian Dangerous Goods Code as a Chemical that has physical properties which make the substances corrosive, flammable, combustible, explosive, oxidising or water-reactive or have other hazardous properties.

Hazardous Chemical and dangerous good. – which means that you must not only consider the human and environmental health but follow the rules in respect of how chemicals are transported and stored.
Regulatory Requirements

Under the relevant WHS/OHS Requirements organisations have a responsibility to manage chemical within the workplace.  The first duty is to 'eliminate risks arising from hazardous chemicals in the workplace, or if that is not reasonably practicable, minimise the risks so far as is reasonably practicable". Both the OHS and WHS regulations provide details in respect of labelling, warning placards, having a hazardous chemical register and manifest(where relevant), ensuring exposure standards are not exceeded, monitoring the health of workers, providing information, training, instruction and supervision to workers, have the necessary system in place for spill containment, and making sure that you have current  manufacturer, importer or supplier's SDS available readily available to all staff.  

Chemical Risk Assessments 

Under the current WHS/OHS legislation, organisations have a reasonability to eliminate the risk of working with chemicals, and if not eliminate the risk, minimise the risk though identification of the hazard, assess the risk and implement suitable controls. In other words undertake a risk assessment. When undertaking a risk assessment, it is important that to consider the following aspects of working with chemicals:

  • the hazardous properties of the hazardous chemical;
  • any potentially hazardous chemical or physical reaction between the hazardous chemical and another substance or mixture, including a substance that may be generated by the reaction;
  • the nature of the work to be carried out with the hazardous chemical;
  • any structure, plant or system of work:
  • that is used in the use, handling, generation, or storage of the hazardous chemical; or
  • that could interact with the hazardous chemical at the workplace.

To help you understand your responsibilities, we can help you with training in relation to 

  • Chemicals in laboratories and schools
  • Understanding workplace chemical hazards
  • In-house tailored training provided