Have you been reading our new blog series on flammable liquids compliance? We’re walking you through the different pieces of legislation and government documents that create a legal obligation when you use, store or handle Class 3 Flammable Liquids. In today’s blog we look at government issued Codes of Practice and your legal responsibility to follow them.
IMPORTANT: Always check if a Model Code of Practice has been approved and adopted by the WHS Regulator in your state or territory.
Laws vs WHS Codes of Practice
In Australia safety laws are underpinned by the WHS Act and Regulations. These two pieces of legislation outline the obligations and responsibilities of each (and every) person who owns, works or interacts at a workplace.
And because the modern workplace is filled with a complex range of risks and hazards, the WHS Regulators in each state and territory issue official Codes of Practice to help organisations meet the requirements of the WHS Act and WHS Regulations.
Codes of practice outline specific issues, but it is beyond their scope to cover every risk or hazard that could arise in your workplace when carrying flammable liquids. Always use them as the basis of your risk assessment but you may need to carry out further research if their scope is limited.
REMEMBER: Codes of Practice that are approved under section 274 of the WHS Act, can be used as evidence during court proceedings to demonstrate whether WHS laws have been met. Plus, they can be referred to by a WHS Inspector when issuing a prohibition or improvement notice.
Do I have to comply with a Code of Practice?
Yes, and no.
You must comply with the requirements of a relevant Code of Practice unless you can find another method which provides the same (or higher) level of safety protection. As we mentioned previously, it is not possible for a Code of Practice to cover every single hazard you might encounter on a job site. By their nature, chemical hazards and your capacity to implement control measures can vary due to:
- Regional considerations. Climate, location, site access, supply availability, cultural and indigenous issues, state and local government restrictions.
- Chemical quantities.
- Environmental impacts.
Just remember that if you do decide to deviate from an approved Code of Practice, prepare enough documentation (eg, Risk Assessment) to explain your reasoning and justification.
Example: You are following the Spray painting and powder coating Code of Practice which recommends using a gantry or lift to avoid overspray in the spray booth. But you find an alternative method (accepted and in practice overseas) not mentioned in the Code or Practice that minimises overspray and eliminates the need for the operator to work at height.
CODE OF PRACTICE: Managing risks of hazardous chemicals in the workplace
This Code of Practice is essential reading for anyone who carries hazardous chemicals at the worksite. It walks you through the full requirements of the WHS Regulations and provides specific advice including:
- Applying the risk management process to hazardous chemicals.
- Relevant sections of the WHS Regulations and how they apply to chemicals.
- Suggested control measures and best practices for specific chemical hazards including flammable liquids.
- Suggested resources for further hazard research.
Other relevant Codes of Practice
There are a number of Model Codes of Practice that provide guidance on controlling the hazards associated with flammable liquids. They are approved under section 274 of the WHS Act in most states and territories and include:
1. Labelling of workplace hazardous chemicals
Use this Code of Practice to better understand your responsibilities to ensure chemical containers are correctly labelled. The Code specifically explains:
- Information required on the label. Eg, written in English, expiry date.
- How to interpret label data. Eg, hazard statements and signal words.
- Special labelling requirements. Eg, small and portable containers, hazardous waste.
2. Spray painting and powder coating
Use this Code of Practice to find safer work methods and reduce chemical exposure and fire risk. The Code includes instructions for:
- Applying risk management to spray painting and power coating operations.
- Understanding specific hazards.
- Industry accepted control measures.
3. First Aid in the workplace
Outlines the requirement to provide appropriate First Aid equipment, facilities and training. This Code also outlines the requirements for installing eye wash and shower equipment if your flammable liquids have skin and eye contact hazards.
4. Managing the work environment and facilities
Outlines the essential requirements for ensuring the physical aspects of your workplace are safe and properly ventilated. If you are storing flammable liquids indoors or have large quantities onsite this Code may help you ensure that workers are not exposed to hazardous vapours and fumes.
If you need help and advice on how to store your flammable liquids safely (and more efficiently) please download our free eBook Essential Considerations When Storing Flammable Liquids Indoors. It will help you meet your legislative requirements when storing flammable liquids in warehouses, laboratories and workshops. Download it now by clicking on the image below:
Read the whole series
Part 6 - Flammable Liquids Compliance (Part 6) other guidance materials