If your business operates out of the Northern Territory and you carry Class 3 Flammable Liquids, read this blog. It’s a quick compliance guide and lists the applicable legislation, Standards, Codes and Guidelines for NT workplaces. Use it as a starting point when carrying out a risk assessment on the flammable liquids held at your worksite.
PLEASE NOTE: We use a number of simulated examples in this blog, they are for demonstration purposes only and not intended to represent practical hazard controls.
NT Work health and safety laws
In the Northern Territory, work health and safety legislation and compliance is administered and enforced by NT WorkSafe. The state WHS Act and Regulations follow the harmonised legislation developed by Safe Work Australia and are:
- Work Health and Safety (National Uniform Legislation) Act 2011 - identifies the key principles and objectives of WHS legislation, and sets the legal obligation and rights of duty holders.
- Work Health and Safety (National Uniform Legislation) Regulations 2011 - sets the duty of business owners and operators to assess and control risk, and has requirements for licencing, spill control and storage practices, labelling, signage and documentation.
PLEASE NOTE: There is also a Dangerous Goods Act and a set of Dangerous Goods Regulations effective in the Northern Territory, but this legislation mostly relates to explosives and fuel gases. There are responsibilities not to allow flammable liquids in proximity of these substances.
Implementing the WHS Act and Regulations
One of the most important obligations under WHS legislation is your duty to manage and control risk (Sections 32-38 WHS Regulations). If we had to sum up WHS compliance into one duty, it would be risk management — as this duty applies to every facet of your workplace including Class 3 Flammable Liquids.
Let’s apply the requirements of the Regulations to flammable liquids (simulated example) to explain what we mean:
- Identify hazards. Formally identify all reasonably foreseeable hazards that present a risk to the health and safety of people, the physical and digital assets of the workplace, and the wider community — including the natural environment. Eg, you use toluene at your workplace and identify that it is highly flammable, explosive at certain temperatures and concentrations, reactive with oxidisers, AND capable of causing death and serious injury if inhaled, ingested, or absorbed through the skin and eyes.
- Eliminate and control hazards. Do all you can to eliminate the hazards, and if this can’t be reasonably achieved, take steps to minimise the harm associated with each hazard. Eg, you use outdoor tools and landscaping appliances that are powered by unleaded petrol, to eliminate the need to carry petrol onsite you switch to electric lawnmowers and brush-cutters.
- Hierarchy of Controls. It’s not always possible to completely eliminate a chemical from the worksite. If you are unable to eliminate a hazard, you must look for hazard control measures using the Hierarchy of Controls (ie, substitute, engineer, isolate, administrate or use PPE). Eg, you have a pallet at the back of the warehouse that contains fuel drums, paints and solvents. You install a series of Class 3 Flammable Liquids cabinets to store the flammables and place them in a suitable location away from ignition sources and loading vehicles.
- Review and maintain hazard controls. Once you have implemented a hazard control measure, you must carry out a review to ensure it has been installed correctly and remains fit-for-purpose, and used properly. Eg, after installing a flammable liquids cabinet in the laboratory you notice it is installed away from the emergency decontamination showers and eyewash, and the cabinet is being overloaded. You have the cabinet moved to a location within a 10 second reach of the safety shower/eyewash and conduct a training and counselling session with lab staff and supervisors about correct loading of the cabinet.
The WHS Regulations have more than 500 pages of compliance obligations but if you systematically follow your duty to eliminate or control hazards, you’ll eventually find ways of addressing each and every hazard and issue of compliance.
Essential Standards, Codes and Guidelines
To support your risk management and compliance efforts in NT, use the following essential Standards, Codes and Guidelines.
- Australian Safety Standards - formal documents that provide information about specific classes of Dangerous Goods and safety equipment. As a minimum you should consult AS1940:2017- The storage and handling of flammable and combustible liquids and AS4775:2007 — Emergency eyewash and shower equipment.
- Code of Practice: Managing risks of hazardous chemicals in the workplace - is an approved Code of Practice by NT WorkSafe and walks you through every duty under the WHS Act and Regulation when carrying flammable liquids and other hazardous chemicals.
- Workplace Exposure Standards for Airborne Contaminants - documents the mandatory chemical concentration limits in the breathing zones of workers.
- Australian Dangerous Goods Code (ADG Code) — mandatory labelling, placarding, and segregation requirements for all Dangerous Goods including Class 3 Flammable Liquids.
- Safety Data Sheets (SDSs) — documents issued by the chemical manufacturer, containing critical safety and handling information about individual chemicals.
This was written as a quick introduction to flammable liquids compliance in the Northern Territory. To learn more about how to manage your compliance obligations why not download our free eBook Essential Considerations When Storing Flammable Liquids Indoors. Keeping Class 3 Flammable Liquids inside a safety cabinet manufactured to Australian Standard AS1940:2017 is a critical step in reaching 100% chemical safety compliance. Download it today by clicking on the image below: