New Zealand’s System for the Management of Hazardous Substances in the Workplace is Changing.
The Health and Safety at Work (Hazardous Substances) Regulations will come into force in December 2017, and are aimed at reducing both immediate harm and longer-term illness that can result from the work-related use of hazardous substances.
If yours is one of the 150,000 businesses across New Zealand that manufacture, use, handle, store or transport hazardous substances, note that the rules that govern the use of hazardous substances in the workplace are moving from the Hazardous Substances and New Organisms (HSNO) Act (administered by the EPA) into a new Health and Safety at Work (HSW) Act (administered by WorkSafe).
Hazardous chemicals are substances, mixtures and articles that can pose a significant risk to health and safety if not managed correctly. They may have Health hazards, Physical hazards and/or Environmental hazards.
Examples of chemical that can cause adverse health effects in the Workplace include:
- toxic chemicals
- substances that cause burns or skin and eye irritation
- substances that may cause cancer (carcinogens)
Examples of chemicals that can immediately injure people or damage property include:
- flammable liquids
- compressed gasses
Many hazardous substances are also classed as dangerous goods.
As soon as the changes come into force, WorkSafe New Zealand will become solely responsible for compliance in the handling, storage, disposal, use and manufacturing of hazardous substances in workplace. Also included is the supervision of the Test Certification process for handling, storage and the location of the hazardous substances. As a result of these changes WorkSafe will also become accountable for enforcing environmental controls for hazardous substances in workplaces.
The EPA (Environmental Protection Authority) under whose umbrella hazardous substances currently fall, will continue its role in controlling the issue outside the workplace. It will still receive the applications for hazardous substances, assess their risks and decide whether they should be approved for use in New Zealand. The EPA will also continue to be responsible for setting the rules for classification, labelling, safety data sheets, packaging and the protection of the environment and public health.
In future, the EPA will be responsible for making sure importers and manufacturers:
- have a HSNO approval
- have the right label, packaging and safety data sheets for their substances
- comply with the rules around the allowable limits of certain hazardous substances within products
- comply with the bans on persistent organic pollutants.
- comply with information requirements.
WorkSafe New Zealand outlines a number of steps to follow to ensure your site is compliant with regards to managing hazardous substances. The first step is to find out what hazardous substances you have on your site and prepare an inventory. List all of the substances on your site and create a site plan that shows where they are stored. The inventory should show the name of the substance, its hazard classification, strength of (liquid) solution and amount held for each separate location where it is held.
myosh HSEQ Software System assists companies with this compliance. The Chemical Register module allows all workplace hazardous substances to be listed, classified and linked to the applicable Safety Data Sheet. It also meets the requirements of the new Globally Harmonised System for the Classification and Labeling of Chemicals (GHS).
EPA – Your Practical: Working Safely with Hazardous Substances will lead you to a very useful guide with regards to Hazardous Substances in New Zealand.