New Zealand Health and Safety at Work (Hazardous Substances) Regulations 2017

8 November 2017

On 1 December 2017 new regulations come into effect throughout New Zealand, which dictate the way businesses must manage hazardous substances. The New Zealand Health and Safety at Work (Hazardous Substances) Regulations 2017 concern the handling, storage and disposal of the substances and include measures designed to protect the safety of those who work with them.

These regulations sit under the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 (HSWA) and replace the previous Hazardous Substances and New Organisms (HSNO) Act. Whilst many requirements remain the same as per under the previous Act, there are some important changes to note:

Inventory

All hazardous substances used, handled, manufactured or stored at your workplace must be recorded in an inventory which details:

The product or chemical name and UN number; maximum quantity likely to be at the workplace; location of the substance; any specific storage or segregation requirements; and a current safety data sheet.

The inventory must also include any hazardous waste at your workplace, detailing:

The hazards of the waste (e.g. flammable, corrosive, chlorinated solvent waste); maximum quantity waste likely to be at the workplace; location on the worksite; and specific storage or segregation requirements.

Safety Data Sheets (SDSs)

Required for all hazardous substances, to be obtained from the manufacturer or supplier when they supply a substance to you for the first time, for the first time in 5 years, or for the first time after a change in the SDS.

Labelling

Hazardous waste and hazardous substances that have been manufactured and used on site (eg blended or mixed in a vat), or decanted or transferred at the workplace must be labelled. You must also ensure, as far as practicable, that the manufacturer or importer label remains intact.

Information, Training and Instruction

You must make sure your workers have received and understood the information, training and instruction required to complete their work safely, including details of hazardous substances in their work areas, where to find information about them, how to safely handle, store and dispose of them and the risks involved.

Emergency Management

Emergency response plans must be prepared and are to include any special training required, the inventory, and a site plan showing the locations of the hazardous substances in the workplace.
The Regulations now also dictate that fire extinguishers have a minimum rating of 30B, and must be clearly visible and readily accessible. Inventories and SDSs must be readily accessible to any emergency service worker attending the workplace.

Certified Handlers and Tracking Requirements

‘Certified handlers’ replace ‘approved handlers’, and are required only for acutely toxic (class 6.1A and 6.1B) substances and those requiring a controlled substance licence, such as most explosives, fumigants and vertebrate toxic agents.

Tracking requirements continue for highly hazardous substances. The following substance classes are no longer tracked: 6.1C, 9.1A, 9.2A, 9.3A, 9.4A.

Hazardous Substance Locations (HSLs), Transit Depots and Storage Requirements

Tracked hazardous substances above the threshold quantity held for longer than 24 hours (previously 18 hours) need to be held in an HSL or transit depot. The time limit remains at two hours for tracked substances.
An HSL must be established for class 6.1A, 6.1B, 6.1C, 8.2A and 8.2B substances. All HSLs for solid or liquid class 6 or 8 substances require a location compliance certificate.

Penalties

A person conducting business or undertaking (PCBU) who contravenes any of the regulations regulation commits an offence and is liable on conviction. For individuals the maximum fine ranges from $2,000-$10,000. For any other person, the maximum fine ranges from $10,000-$50,000.

Hentys Lawyers is a premier adviser on all facets of employment law and occupational health and safety with over 40 years of experience, operating in New Zealand, Australia and the greater Asia Pacific.

Hentys offers a ranges of services including comprehensive advice, workplace audits, risk assessments and the development of OH&S Management Systems, and can assist with ensuring your workplace is compliant with all statutory and regulatory requirements.