This blog is for business owners, operators and HSE Managers who are responsible for Dangerous Goods compliance at workplaces in Western Australia. Most Australian states and territories follow the Model WHS Legislation released by Safe Work Australia in 2012, however the government of WA issues and enforces their own legislation. This blog will help you understand your compliance obligations as they relate to Class 3 Flammable Liquids and other Dangerous Goods.
IMPORTANT: The state of Western Australia is currently in the process of updating their WHS legislation to bring it in line with the legislation developed by Safe Work Australia. The legislation is still under review by the DMIR.
Work health and safety regulation in WA
Work health and safety laws in Western Australia are administered and enforced by WorkSafe WA, a division of the Department of Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety. There are two key pieces of legislation that relate to Class 3 Flammable Liquids:
The state legislation sets out the duties of a business owner or operator to provide a safe workplace, as well as identifying and controlling risks and hazards. Some key responsibilities (unique to WA) that relate to Class 3 Flammable Liquids include:
- Assessing the risks of exposure to chemicals and creating formal assessment reports to outline the severity of the risk, and the actions that have been taken to either eliminate or control them. These reports must be updated at least once every 5 years and be available during WorkSafe Inspections.
- Specific requirements for inducting and training anyone likely to exposed to hazardous substances during the course of their work, or when visiting the site.
- Ongoing monitoring of risks associated with hazardous substances and sharing the results with the workers and contractors who are actually handling (or working near) the chemicals.
Worksites who use and store Class 3 Flammable Liquids also have additional obligations under Dangerous Goods legislation. In Western Australia, Dangerous goods are regulated by the Department of Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety (Dangerous Goods branch).
- Dangerous Goods Safety Act 2004 — outlining the duty of all persons who are involved in storing, handling or transporting dangerous goods to take all reasonable measures to minimise the risk to people, property and the environment from the goods. Fines start at $50,000 for non-compliance.
- Dangerous Goods Safety (Storage and Handling of Non-explosives) Regulations 2007 — outlining duties relating to chemical spills, segregation, licensing a dangerous goods site, placarding, manifest and Dangerous Goods site plan, fire control equipment, impact protection for Dangerous Goods stores, underground petroleum and fuel storage, ventilation, record keeping and emergency planning.
- Dangerous Goods Safety (Major Hazard Facilities) Regulations 2007 - assessing and controlling risks of Dangerous Goods at workplaces classed as major hazard facilities. This includes quantity thresholds and safety reporting.
Approved guidance materials
To assist you manage and control risks associated with flammable liquids, WorkSafe WA has a range of approved Codes of Practice and guidance materials. We suggestion familiarising yourself with the following:
Approved Codes of Practice
- Control of Workplace Hazardous Substances - duty to carry out chemical risk assessments and implement ongoing chemical controls.
- First aid, Workplace Amenities, Personal Protective Clothing - duties to provide first aid equipment, safe showers, eyewash units and PPE for workers using flammable liquids.
- Labelling of Workplace Substances - ensuring fuels, solvents, paints and other flammable liquids are correctly labelled.
- Spray painting - fire safety when using flammable paints and solvents.
- Assessment of Health Risks Arising from Hazardous Substances - duty to assess chemical exposure risks to your workers and contractors.
- Empty drums - potential bombs - safely disposing of empty fuel drums.
- Local exhaust ventilation - managing vapours from fuels and solvents.
- Agricultural safety and health workbook - fire and chemical safety, Dangerous Goods storage on farms and agricultural sites.
- Provision of information on hazardous substances at workplaces Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) - duty to obtain MSDSs and use them for HAZCHEM registers, risk assessments, training, and health surveillance.
- Dangerous Goods Safety Guidance Note: Manifest and site plan requirements for dangerous goods sites - details how to set out a manifest and site plan and fulfil duties under the DG Regulations.
Australian Safety Standards
To fulfil all your Dangerous Goods compliance obligations in the state of Western Australia, we also recommend making Australian Standard AS1940:2017 – The storage and handling of flammable and combustible liquids the foundation of site handling and storage practices.
Australian Standards are practical by nature and give you technical specifications and detailed guidance. Follow their guidance for:
- Purchasing and installing flammable liquids cabinets.
- Creating firewalls and vapour barriers.
- Understanding and managing ignition sources.
- Understanding manifest and aggregate quantities.
- Managing leaks and spills.
- Transferring and decanting chemicals.
- Training your workers and contractors.
- Introducing safe operating procedures.
- Developing housekeeping standards and procedures.
Storing even small quantities of Class 3 Flammable Liquids inside a compliant safety cabinet is one of the best ways to reduce the risk of fires, explosions, and accidental spills. This also reduces your compliance risk. To learn more about Flammable Liquids safety and compliance, please download our free eBook Essential Considerations When Storing Flammable Liquids Indoors.