Spill Containment Requirements: Your State-By-State Guide

Sep 15, 2021 Posted by Walter Ingles

Would you like to know more about the spill containment regulations for your state? Or are wondering what bunding requirements apply to your workplace? Our helpful guide can help you determine your requirements when it comes to devising a secondary containment strategy for your dangerous goods and hazardous substances.

In this state-by-state guide, we’ve rounded up the relevant spill containment requirements that relate to each of the 8 states and territories of Australia, with details on workplace regulations as well penalties for non-compliance.

But first, let’s look at spill containment and the importance of bunding for effective secondary containment.

What Is Spill Containment?

Spill containment are the measures that your workplace has in place to contain a chemical spill. Whether you’re using and storing hazardous substances such as toxic chemicals, corrosive substances or flammable liquids, your spill containment requirements will be determined by the dangerous goods class that you are carrying onsite.

Portable Containment Bund with IBCsThere are specific spill containment requirements for each dangerous goods class

Bunding & Bunded Storage

A key factor in your spill containment plan will be choosing the appropriate bunding or bunded storage products. Workplace requirements for bunding and secondary containment should be looked at on a site-by-site basis, as each workplace presents its own unique risks and hazards.

Your workplace has a legal obligation to provide chemical spill containment as stated in Section 357 Containing and managing spills, in the Model Work Health Safety (WHS) Regulations.

The regulations state that workplaces must provide a spill containment system that contains any part of the hazardous chemical spill or leak, as well as any resulting effluent.

State-By-State Guide To Spill Containment

The states of Australia harmonised their Work Health and Safety laws in 2008 by developing the Model Work Health and Safety (WHS) Regulation. However, Victoria did not take on the Model WHS Regulation, and instead opted to develop their own regulation. Western Australia hasn’t yet adopted the Model WHS regulation, but is in the process of doing so.

While many of the requirements are quite similar due to the harmonisation of state regulations, the biggest difference is the penalties that each state can impose for non-compliance.

Next, we breakdown the regulations by state — and include details on spill containment and management requirements, as well as the penalties issued for failure to comply.

New South Wales

NSW’s Work Health and Safety Regulation 2017 details the requirements for chemical spills in section 357:

Subdivision 2 Spills and damage

357 Containing and managing spills

(1) A person conducting a business or undertaking at a workplace must ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, that where there is a risk from a spill or leak of a hazardous chemical in a solid or liquid form, provision is made in each part of the workplace where the hazardous chemical is used, handled, generated or stored for a spill containment system that contains within the workplace any part of the hazardous chemical that spills or leaks, and any resulting effluent.

Maximum penalty—
(a) in the case of an individual—70 penalty units, or
(b) in the case of a body corporate—345 penalty units.


(2) The person must ensure that the spill containment system does not create a hazard by bringing together different hazardous chemicals that are not compatible.

Maximum penalty—
(a) in the case of an individual—70 penalty units, or
(b) in the case of a body corporate—345 penalty units.


(3) The person must ensure that the spill containment system provides for the cleanup and disposal of a hazardous chemical that spills or leaks, and any resulting effluent.

Maximum penalty—
(a) in the case of an individual—70 penalty units, or
(b) in the case of a body corporate—345 penalty units.


(4) In subclause (2), compatible, for 2 or more substances, mixtures or items, means that the substances, mixtures or items do not react together to cause a fire, explosion, harmful reaction or evolution of flammable, toxic or corrosive vapour.

How to segregate incompatible substancesYou must not mix incompatible substances due to hazards including fire, explosion, and toxic vapour

Victoria

In Victoria, businesses can refer to Section 163 Control of risk in the Occupational Health and Safety Regulations 2017.

163 Control of risk

(1) An employer must, so far as is reasonably practicable, eliminate any risk associated with hazardous substances at the employer's workplace.

(2) If it is not reasonably practicable to eliminate a risk associated with hazardous substances at the employer's workplace, the employer must reduce the risk so far as is reasonably practicable by—

(a) substituting the substance with— (i) a substance that is less hazardous; or (ii) a less hazardous form of the substance; or

(b) isolating the source of exposure to the hazardous substance; or (c) using engineering controls; or

(d) combining any of the risk control measures referred to in paragraphs (a), (b) and (c).

(3) If the employer has complied with subregulations (1) and (2) so far as is reasonably practicable and a risk associated with a hazardous substance at the workplace remains, the employer must reduce the risk so far as is reasonably practicable by using administrative controls.

(4) If the employer has complied with subregulations (1), (2) and (3) so far as is reasonably practicable and a risk associated with a hazardous substance at the workplace remains, the employer must reduce the risk so far as is reasonably practicable by providing appropriate personal protective equipment to employees at risk.

Queensland


The Queensland Government’s Work Health and Safety Regulation 2011 stipulates how businesses should contain and manage chemical spills:

Subdivision 2 Spills and damage
357 Containing and managing spills

(1) A person conducting a business or undertaking at a workplace must ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, that where there is a risk from a spill or leak of a hazardous chemical in a solid or liquid form, provision is made in each part of the workplace where the hazardous chemical is used, handled, generated or stored for a spill containment system that contains within the workplace any part of the hazardous chemical that spills or leaks, and any resulting effluent.

Maximum penalty—60 penalty units.

(2) The person must ensure that the spill containment system would not create a hazard by bringing together different hazardous chemicals that are not compatible.

Maximum penalty—60 penalty units.

(3) The person must ensure that the spill containment system provides for the cleanup and disposal of a hazardous chemical that spills or leaks, and any resulting effluent.

Maximum penalty—60 penalty units.

(4) In this section— compatible, for 2 or more substances, mixtures or items, means that the substances, mixtures or items do not react together to cause a fire, explosion, harmful reaction or evolution of flammable, toxic or corrosive vapour.

Spillage Penalties apply if the spill containment system does not allow for the cleanup and disposal of hazardous chemicals

South Australia

South Australia’s Work Health and Safety Regulations 2012 outlines the regulations pertaining to spills and damages:
Subdivision 2—Spills and damage
357—Containing and managing spills

(1) A person conducting a business or undertaking at a workplace must ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, that where there is a risk from a spill or leak of a hazardous chemical in a solid or liquid form, provision is made in each part of the workplace where the hazardous chemical is used, handled, generated or stored for a spill containment system that contains within the workplace any part of the hazardous chemical that spills or leaks, and any resulting effluent.

Maximum penalty:
(a) In the case of an individual—$6 000.
(b) In the case of a body corporate—$30 000.

(2) The person must ensure that the spill containment system does not create a hazard by bringing together different hazardous chemicals that are not compatible.

Maximum penalty:
(a) In the case of an individual—$6 000.
(b) In the case of a body corporate—$30 000.

(3) The person must ensure that the spill containment system provides for the cleanup and disposal of a hazardous chemical that spills or leaks, and any resulting effluent.

Maximum penalty:
(a) In the case of an individual—$6 000.
(b) In the case of a body corporate—$30 000.


(4) In subregulation (2) - compatible, for 2 or more substances, mixtures or items, means that the substances, mixtures or items do not react together to cause a fire, explosion, harmful reaction or evolution of flammable, toxic or corrosive vapour.

Western Australia

For organisations operating in Western Australia, the Occupational Safety and Health Regulations 1996 provides general guidelines for workplace safety requirements.

Part 3 – Workplace safety requirements

Division 1 — General duties applying to workplaces

3.1. Identification of hazards, and assessment and reduction of risks, duties of employer etc. as to
A person who, at a workplace, is an employer, the main contractor, a self-employed person, a person having control of the workplace or a person having control of access to the workplace must, as far as practicable —
(a) identify each hazard to which a person at the workplace is likely to be exposed; and
(b) assess the risk of injury or harm to a person resulting from each hazard, if any, identified under paragraph (a); and
(c) consider the means by which the risk may be reduced.
Penalty: the regulation 1.16 penalty.

In Division 5 – Hazardous substances generally, it goes on to explain:

5.15. Risk from exposure to hazardous substance, duties of employer to assess etc.
Without limiting regulation 3.1, a person who, at a workplace is an employer, the main contractor or a self-employed person must assess the risk of injury or harm occurring to a person as a result of the person being exposed to a hazardous substance at the workplace.
Penalty applicable to subregulations (1), (2) and (4): the regulation 1.16 penalty.

Australian Capital Territory

The ACT’s Work Health and Safety Regulation 2011 details the regulations for workplace spills and damage:

Subdivision 7.1.5.2 Spills and damage

357 Containing and managing spills

(1) A person conducting a business or undertaking at a workplace must ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, that where there is a risk from a spill or leak of a hazardous chemical in a solid or liquid form, provision is made in each part of the workplace where the hazardous chemical is used, handled, generated or stored for a spill containment system that contains within the workplace any part of the hazardous chemical that spills or leaks, and any resulting effluent.

Maximum penalty:
(a) in the case of an individual—$6 000; or
(b) in the case of a body corporate—$30 000.
Note: Strict liability applies to each physical element of each offence under this regulation, unless otherwise stated (see s 6A).

(2) The person must ensure that the spill containment system does not create a hazard by bringing together different hazardous chemicals that are not compatible.

Maximum penalty:
(a) in the case of an individual—$6 000; or
(b) in the case of a body corporate—$30 000.
Note: Strict liability applies to each physical element of each offence under this regulation, unless otherwise stated (see s 6A).

(3) The person must ensure that the spill containment system provides for the cleanup and disposal of a hazardous chemical that spills or leaks, and any resulting effluent.

Maximum penalty:
(a) in the case of an individual—$6 000; or
(b) in the case of a body corporate—$30 000.
Note: Strict liability applies to each physical element of each offence under this regulation, unless otherwise stated (see s 6A).

(4) In this section:

compatible, for 2 or more substances, mixtures or items, means that the substances, mixtures or items do not react together to cause a fire, explosion, harmful reaction or evolution of flammable, toxic or corrosive vapour.

BundingBunding and spill containment must be provided in any area where a hazardous chemical is used, handled, generated or stored

Tasmania

For Tasmanian businesses, the Work Health and Safety Regulations 2012 details the spill containment regulations:

Subdivision 2 - Spills and damage

357.   Containing and managing spills

(1) A person conducting a business or undertaking at a workplace must ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, that where there is a risk from a spill or leak of a hazardous chemical in a solid or liquid form, provision is made in each part of the workplace where the hazardous chemical is used, handled, generated or stored for a spill containment system that contains within the workplace any part of the hazardous chemical that spills or leaks, and any resulting effluent.

Penalty:  In the case of –
(a) an individual, a fine not exceeding $6 000; or
(b) a body corporate, a fine not exceeding $30 000.

(2) The person must ensure that the spill containment system does not create a hazard by bringing together different hazardous chemicals that are not compatible.

Penalty:  In the case of –
(a) an individual, a fine not exceeding $6 000; or
(b) a body corporate, a fine not exceeding $30 000.

(3)  The person must ensure that the spill containment system provides for the cleanup and disposal of a hazardous chemical that spills or leaks, and any resulting effluent.

Penalty:  In the case of –
(a) an individual, a fine not exceeding $6 000; or
(b) a body corporate, a fine not exceeding $30 000.

(4)  In subregulation (2), compatible, for 2 or more substances, mixtures or items, means that the substances, mixtures or items do not react together to cause a fire, explosion, harmful reaction or evolution of flammable, toxic or corrosive vapour.

Northern Territory

If your workplace is located in the Northern Territory, the Work Health and Safety (National Uniform Legislation) Regulations 2011 applies to you:

Subdivision 2 Spills and damage

357 Containing and managing spills

(1) A person conducting a business or undertaking at a workplace must ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, that where there is a risk from a spill or leak of a hazardous chemical in a solid or liquid form, provision is made in each part of the workplace where the hazardous chemical is used, handled, generated or stored for a spill containment system that contains within the workplace any part of the hazardous chemical that spills or leaks, and any resulting effluent.

Maximum penalty:
(a) in the case of an individual – $6 000.
(b) in the case of a body corporate – $30 000.
Note for subregulation (1) Strict liability applies to each physical element of this offence. See section 12B of the Act.

(2) The person must ensure that the spill containment system does not create a hazard by bringing together different hazardous chemicals that are not compatible.

Maximum penalty:
(a) in the case of an individual – $6 000.
(b) in the case of a body corporate – $30 000.
Note for subregulation (2) Strict liability applies to each physical element of this offence. See section 12B of the Act.

(3) The person must ensure that the spill containment system provides for the cleanup and disposal of a hazardous chemical that spills or leaks, and any resulting effluent.

Maximum penalty:
(a) in the case of an individual – $6 000.
(b) in the case of a body corporate – $30 000.
Note for subregulation (3) Strict liability applies to each physical element of this offence. See section 12B of the Act.

(4) In subregulation (2):
compatible, for 2 or more substances, mixtures or items, means that the substances, mixtures or items do not react together to cause a fire, explosion, harmful reaction or evolution of flammable, toxic or corrosive vapour

Chatoyer XR5 Portable Containment Bund with IBCs 2Compliant bunding is a key component of your secondary containment system

Solutions For Secondary Containment

If you want to create a safe and compliant workplace, you have a legal obligation to provide chemical spill containment and management measures. Through the implementation of compliant bunding products as part of your secondary containment strategy, your workplace can minimise the real risks associated with the storage of dangerous goods — including flammable liquids. If you’d like to find out more about preventing chemical spills in your workplace, you can access our FREE eBook. Essential Considerations When Storing Flammable Liquids Indoors will help you better understand your compliance obligations, with handy tips on how to select, install and maintain a compliant safety cabinet. Click on the image below to access it now.

Essential Considerations when Storing Flammable Liquids Indoors download Free eBook

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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