Flammable Liquids Compliance Obligations (Part 1) legislative framework in Australia 

Dec 2, 2019 Posted by Walter Ingles

Many business owners, managers and supervisors get a little uneasy when they hear the words ‘legislation’ or ‘compliance’. Not because they are doing anything wrong — running a complex operation that requires the use of large quantities of hazardous chemicals or Dangerous Goods is challenging enough — but add chemical safety compliance and it can suddenly feel totally overwhelming. This blog is the first in a 6-part series on assessing your WHS compliance obligations as they relate to Class 3 Flammable Liquids. 

PLEASE NOTE: Even though we’ve related the content to flammable liquids, you could apply the concepts and requirements to any hazardous substance of Dangerous Goods Class. 

The legislative framework in Australia 

To fulfil your legal requirements and ensure that the way you use, store or handle flammable liquids at your workplace is 100% safe, first you must understand the way work health and safety laws are structured in Australia. 

Every state and territory in Australia has a Work Health and Safety Act and a set of Regulations. The WHS Act and Regulations in each jurisdiction are harmonised to a national consistency. What this means is that no matter where you operate in Australia, you must provide the same level of safety protection for your workers and in the workplace generally. 

 WHS Act 

The Work Health and Safety Act in your state or territory is the foundation of all WHS legislation in Australia. It is based on the Model WHS Act developed by Safe Work Australia. The WHS Act in each state defines the underpinning safety obligations (and duties) of organisations, office holders and individuals in every workplace. Its main obligation — to provide a workplace that is free of risk to workers, other people and the surrounding environment. 

COMPLIANCE: Mandatory 

WHS Regulations 

The WHS Regulations outline the specific ways that organisations and people with WHS obligations must carry out their duties to keep their workplace safe. Regulations mandate things like licences, administrative records, warning signs, chemical labels, fire and emergency planning and banned substances. WHS Regulations are issued in each state and territory and are based on the Model WHS Regulations developed by Safe Work Australia.  

COMPLIANCE: Mandatory 

 

Codes of Practice 

Codes of practice are practical guides and give specific instructions for minimising certain hazards and reducing risk. Codes of Practice are issued by the WHS Regulator in each state or territory and are based on a corresponding Model Code of Practice developed by Safe Work Australia.  

There are a number of Codes of Practice which impact how you use, handle and store flammable liquids. These include (but there are more): 

 You should implement the requirements of a Code of Practice issued by your WHS Regulator unless you have another proven method that delivers an equivalent level of harm minimisation.  

COMPLIANCE: recommended unless another method (not listed in the Code) provides the same (or greater) level of WHS protection. 


Standards 

Standards are formal documents that provide guidance about a specific installation, issue, or substance. They contribute to product and service performance, consistency and reliability (as well as workplace safety) by detailing the specification of physical goods, storage systems, structures and maintenance.  

Standards exist on many levels and can be in the form of Industry Standards (eg, food standards), Australian Standards (eg dangerous goods standards) and International Standards (ISO standards). Specific Standards that may apply to the Class 3 Flammable Liquids at your workplace include: 

  • Workplace Exposure Standards for Airborne Contaminants (mandatory
  • AS1940:2017 –- The storage and handling of flammable and combustible liquids 
  • AS4775:2007 — Emergency eyewash and shower equipment 
  • AS3833:2007 — The storage and handling of mixed classes of dangerous goods, in packages and intermediate bulk containers 

Even though Australian Standards are not laws, it is recommended that you implement their practices and recommendations. In some cases a Standard may be specified in legislation making it compulsory (eg, Workplace Exposure Standards for Airborne Contaminants). 

COMPLIANCE: mandatory if specified in a law, otherwise recommended best practice. 

 

Other Guidance Material 

There is other guidance materials issued by varying government bodies and private organisations. many of these are also referenced in the WHS Regulations. These include: 

  • Australian Dangerous Goods Code (ADG Code) — issued by the Federal Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Cities and Regional Development. 
  • Safety Data Sheets (SDSs) — issued by each chemical manufacturer or importer. 
  • National Code of Practice: Storage and Handling of Workplace Dangerous Goods - issued by the National Occupational Health and Safety Commission. 

COMPLIANCE: mandatory if specified in a law, otherwise recommended best practice. 

 

Next steps 

Do you need more information about ensuring your flammable liquids are stored legally and safely? Why not download our free eBook Essential Considerations When Storing Flammable Liquids Indoors? We walk you through every action you need to take to choose, purchase and install a Class 3 Flammable Liquids cabinet that will assist you in meeting your legal obligations under the WHS Act, Regulations and Australian Safety Standards.

 

Essential Considerations when Storing Flammable Liquids Indoors download Free eBook

Read the whole series 

Part 2 - Flammable Liquids Compliance (Part 2) applying the WHS Act 

Part 3 - Flammable Liquids Compliance (Part 3) navigating the WHS Regulations 

Part 4 - Flammable Liquids Compliance (Part 4) using Codes of Practice 

Part 5 - Flammable Liquids Compliance (Part 5) meeting Australian Safety Standards 

Part 6 - Flammable Liquids Compliance (Part 6) other guidance materials 

 

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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