Flammable liquids compliance and the 5-year strategic plan for WHS in QLD (2019 -2023)

Jul 8, 2020 Posted by Walter Ingles

This blog discusses some of the key goals — as they relate to Class 3 Flammable Liquids — of the Five Year Strategic Plan for work health and safety in Queensland. If your business carries any quantity of flammable liquids and operates out of Queensland, please take 3-5 minutes to read this blog and learn more about your compliance obligations. 

WHS legislation and enforcement

Workplace Health and Safety Queensland (WHSQ) is the WHS Regulator in Queensland and is responsible for all WHS compliance, enforcement, advisory and support services. WHS legislation in the state of Queensland is aligned with the model legislation developed and issued by Safe Work Australia and consists of the: 

But during 2018 and 2019, amendments to the WHS legislation in Queensland came into effect. There are now additional requirements in the state of Queensland for work health and safety representatives to complete approved training. Queensland workplaces may also appoint an official Work Health and Safety Officer (WHSO) to mitigate health and safety risks. The WHSO must complete approved training and hold a WHSO certificate of authority. 

IMPORTANT: Like all Australian states, Queensland workplaces must comply with any approved code of practice that applies to the risks and hazards at their job site. There are approximately 50 Codes of Practice that may apply to your workplace and we recommend visiting the WHSQ website for more information. 


State strategic plan for WHS in Queensland 

In 2018 WHS Queensland issued a five-year strategic plan to improve the overall culture and attitude toward safety at QLD workplaces. The key goals of the strategic plan focus on safe work design and we explain them briefly below (as they related to flammable liquids and other hazardous chemicals): 

1. High industry awareness (and uptake) of healthy and safe work design

One of the primary goals of the state strategic plan is for workplaces to implement the principles of healthy and safe work design. Safe work design is more than creating a written procedure, it considers three important factors: 

  • The Work - the complexity and physical demands of the actual task to be performed. 
  • The Physical Working Environment - the chemical hazards, ventilation, working temperature, noise, equipment, machinery, PPE, distractions, vehicles and other aspects of the working environment where the task will be performed. 
  • The Workers - the skills, training, experience, capacity, fatigue and stress levels of the people required to undertake the task. 

2. Gap between work as done and as imagined is closed

The HSE Manager orders a new flammable liquids cabinet to address a series of paint tins, solvents, and spray cans often left lying around the job site. But 3 weeks after the cabinet has been installed, the paint tins are still lying around, and the cabinet is being used to store mower fuel and grease. What the HSE Manager imagined, is nothing like what is being done. 

To meet this goal, your workplace should have audit checks and review mechanisms in place to ensure that equipment and control measures are implemented correctly, and workers are properly supervised. 

3. A culture/mentality that identifies and implements controls that make a difference.

This goal directs a workplace to implement risk and hazard controls that improve safety at the workplace — rather than just look good on paper. A clear example that we see here at STOREMASTA is when purchasing a flammable liquids safety cabinet, decanting equipment or PPE.  

Sometimes the purchase of safety equipment is reactive, instead of the outcome of a risk assessment that has correctly identified and evaluated each chemical hazard. Conducting a risk assessment will ensure the equipment you purchase is compatible with the hazard class, chemical quantities and considers the other Dangerous Goods held onsite. 

4. Higher order controls are the norm.

Another goal of the QLD strategic plan is to focus on higher order controls when looking for ways to address chemical hazards. A ‘higher order control’ is a hazard control measure within the Hierarchy of Controls that seeks to control a hazard at its source.  

These are elimination, substitution, isolation, and engineering controls. For example: 

  • Substitute - find a non-flammable (or other safer) alternative to the chemical. 
  • Isolate/Engineer - keep the chemical in an isolated area inside safety cabinets manufactured to Australian Safety Standards. 

Lower order controls require workers to change their behaviour or follow a procedure — because of this they are vulnerable to error and misinterpretation. They are most effective when implemented to support higher order controls.  

Lower order controls are administration and PPE controls. For example: 

Next steps 

Keeping Class 3 Flammable Liquids in a safety cabinet manufactured to AS1940:2017 –- The storage and handling of flammable and combustible liquids is a higher order hazard control that helps you minimise your compliance risk in Queensland (and all Australian states and territories). For more information about how to select and correctly install a flammable liquids cabinet, please download our free eBook Essential Considerations When Storing Flammable Liquids Indoors. Download and read it today for the next step in Dangerous Goods safety and compliance. 

Essential Considerations when Storing Flammable Liquids Indoors download Free eBook

Walter Ingles

Walter Ingles Compliance Specialist

Walter is STOREMASTA’s Dangerous Goods Storage Specialist. He helps organisations reduce risk and improve efficiencies in the storage and management of dangerous goods and hazardous chemicals.

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