Working Safely with Hazardous Substances

Hazardous Substance Signs

Were you aware that on 1 December 2017, the rules around managing hazardous substances in the workplace transferred from the Hazardous Substances and New Organisms Act (HSNO) to the Health and Safety at Work (Hazardous Substances) Regulations? If not, or if you’ve been continuing to follow old regulations regardless, it’s time to catch-up – fast!

There are 5 steps that can be followed to ensure that you are adhering to the new requirements:

  1. Make an inventory list of all the substances at your workplace, and the quantities on-hand of each;
  2. Do a risk assessment of the substances, and then apply the controls for the substance listed.  Ensure you consider worker exposure to hazardous substances, where possible, and eliminate or substitute hazardous substances in your workplace.  If you cannot eliminate or substitute the hazardous substances, minimise people’s exposure to them by isolating them or applying engineering controls. If the risk still exists, put administrative controls in place and, if the risk then still exists, make sure personal protective equipment (PPE) is provided and used;
  3. Use and store your substances safely, and store only what you need.  Hazardous substances should be stored in labelled, leak-proof containers. Store incompatible substances separately, and gas cylinders and oxidisers safely. Be aware that flammable vapour can build up and accidentally ignite;
  4. Get ready for an emergency by having an annual emergency drill (not just a fire drill). Make sure workers are trained about the substances they use, and  know how to use the safety equipment, personal protective equipment, and how to give first aid. Also, always be prepared for a spill;
  5. Have key controls in place, such as certified handlers, emergency response plans, fire extinguishers, hazardous area maps, location compliance certificates, secondary containment (bunding), secured substances, signage,system compliance certificates, and tracking.

Sound like hard work? Not with Working Wise! The team can help you develop policies and procedures, assess your risks, identify and control hazards, and develop safe systems of work.  Contact the team today, by phoning 04 499 0710, or completing our online contact form.

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