Using the Australian Dangerous Goods Code (ADG Code) when identifying chemical hazards

Feb 10, 2019 Posted by Walter Ingles
This blog takes a quick look at how to use the Australian Dangerous Goods Code (ADG Code) to gain a better understanding of the chemical hazards at your worksite. Chemical hazards can be extremely complex — especially when the hazardous substances are also classified as Dangerous Goods. To fully understand how chemicals that are Dangerous Goods could harm your workers or damage property you will need to do more research than reading a Safety Data Sheet (SDS) or looking at the product label; we consider the ADG Code to be an essential reference.

Dangerous goods are subject to transport, workplace, storage, consumer and environment protection regulations, to prevent accidents to persons, property or the environment, to other goods or to the means of transport employed.” United Nations

What is the ADG Code?

The ADG Code is mandated by the National Transport Commission (NTC) of Australia and sets out the technical instructions for safely transporting dangerous goods by road and rail. The ADG Code uses the globally harmonised structure, definitions, and hazard classes set by the United Nations and is an important reference in Australian WHS Act and Regulations. Even though the ADG Code relates to the transportation of Dangerous Goods, it has a far reaching relevance to workplaces who use chemicals because all Dangerous Goods require correct labeling, storage, segregation, and packing before they are even loaded onto a truck or railcar.

Determining if your chemicals are Dangerous Goods

It’s essential to know if any of your chemicals are classed as Dangerous Goods. Dangerous Goods present an immediate danger to people, property, and the environment so there is a real sense of urgency to understand the hazards and implement control measures. Plus you will have additional compliance responsibilities in terms of labeling, segregation, and storage.

Look up the name of the hazardous chemical in Section 3.2 Dangerous Goods List of the ADG Code, you can easily download the Code from the NTC website. If you can’t find anything under the chemical’s common name, refer to the Safety Data Sheet (SDS) to see if there are any known synonyms and alternative names.

If the chemical is listed in Section 3.2, it is Dangerous Goods — but even if there is no listing the chemical may (in legal terms) still be Dangerous Goods if it meets the classification criteria based on its physical and chemical properties. If you have any doubts at all about the status of a chemical you should always check with your supplier, or a professional consultant who specialises in Dangerous Goods.

NOTE: you can often determine if a substance is classed as Dangerous Goods from the Transport Section of the Safety Data Sheet.

Identifying incompatible substances and segregation alerts

Once you’ve identified if a substance is Dangerous Goods, use the ADG Code to learn if you have additional legal responsibilities. Even if you don’t transport the chemicals and they always remain onsite, they will still need to be labeled, stored, and segregated according to the Code.

The ADG Code lists each of the substances in a table format. Each substance is assigned a series of codes which indicate the hazard class, any subsidiary risks, labeling and packing requirements. This table will also indicate if there are limitations on the quantity you can carry as well as any special provisions when storing in IBCs, portable containers, or bulk tanks 

You can also check Section 9 of the ADG Code to determine if any of the substances have incompatibility risks. Substances can be incompatible in 3 different ways:

  1. The primary hazard of SUBSTANCE A is incompatible with the primary hazard of SUBSTANCE B

  2. The primary hazard of SUBSTANCE A is incompatible with a subsidiary risk of SUBSTANCE B

  3. A subsidiary risk of SUBSTANCE A is incompatible with a subsidiary risk of SUBSTANCE B

Once you determine if any incompatibilities exist you will then need to check if there are any  instructions for correctly segregating and storing the chemicals. Sometimes there will be limitations on the quantities you can carry or you may require a container made from specific materials.

If incompatibilities exists you may have additional responsibilities outlined in an Australian Safety Standard. For example: if you are using any type of compressed gases you should be referring to  AS4332-2004 - The storage and handling of gases in cylinders for instructions on segregating Class 2.1 Flammable Gases; Class 2.2 Non-flammable gases, non-toxic gases; and Class 2.3 Toxic Gases. The ADG Code can help you identify other Safety Standards relevant to your business operations.

TIP: The ADG Code is not a document that you need to sit down and read every single word, it’s more effectively used it as  reference — like an encyclopedia of chemical risks and hazards. For example: you might use the pictorial guide to help you assess the integrity and safety of fuel or chemical drums that has been dropped and contains dents.

Next Steps

Now you know how to determine if the hazardous chemicals you hold on your premises are also Dangerous Goods you may need to conduct a full risk assessment. Download our free eBook How to manage the risk of Hazardous Chemicals in the workplace and learn the 4-step process for identifying, assessing, and controlling hazards — then sustaining chemical compliance. Download and read it today by clicking on the image below:

How to manage the risk of hazardous chemicals in the workplace

Walter Ingles

Walter Ingles Compliance Specialist

Walter is STOREMASTA’s Dangerous Goods Adviser. He loves helping businesses reduce the risk that Dangerous Goods pose upon their employees, property and the environment through safe and compliant dangerous goods storage solutions.

Like what you’re reading?

Subscribe to stay up tp date with the latest from STOREMASTA®


Recommended Resources

Dangerous Goods Segregation Guide
A PRACTICAL EBOOK

How to segregate incompatible classes of dangerous goods

Segregate the 9 different classes of dangerous goods in a way which will reduce risk to people, property, and the environment.

Learn more

HAZCHEM Safety: when do you need to review your chemical control measures?
From the blog

HAZCHEM Safety: when do you need to review your chemical control measures?

You’ve been through the workplace and identified each of the chemical hazards. You took action to ensure that every ...

Learn more

How to conduct a chemical safety review audit
From the blog

How to conduct a chemical safety review audit

A chemical safety review audit examines chemical hazards — plus the control measures you have introduced to bring the ...

Learn more

Preventative maintenance and integrity testing in your hazardous chemical stores
From the blog

Preventative maintenance and integrity testing in your hazardous chemical stores

As time passes, hazardous chemicals will begin to degrade even the toughest chemical stores. It’s essential to have a ...

Learn more

Sustaining chemical safety compliance with a risk management methodology
From the blog

Sustaining chemical safety compliance with a risk management methodology

100% chemical safety compliance is achieved by having a risk management plan that has regular  review mechanisms in ...

Learn more