A safety shower being tested
of more information
Glossary of terms and definitions
State enforced laws, though varying in detail, all require employers to provide as far as reasonably practicable;
|a safe working environment;|
|a safe system of work;|
|materials and equipment in safe condition with adequate facilities; and|
|information, instruction, training and supervision to enable the safe performance of work.|
|workplace safety aims and policies;|
|information, procedures, safety signs and posters;|
|skills relative to the tasks; and|
|safe plant, equipment and materials relative to documented safe working procedures.|
This legislation aims to reduce risk in two broad ways, by;
|defining assessments, controls and procedures; and|
|identifying information systems to communicate the risks to other persons enabling correct response to reduce risk.|
The legislation will therefore provide for more clearly defined rules for work practice, and information and responsibility where `hazardous substances' are used in the workplace.
Broadly, a substance is a `hazardous substance' if it has the potential through being used at work to harm the health or safety of persons in the `workplace' and includes substances which may be produced in the workplace (eg. from welding rods, plastics processing etc.). To reduce ambiguity, a listing of substances is provided by Worksafe in Lists of Designated Hazardous Substances and for non listed substances and mixtures, by health effect criteria in Approved Criteria for Classifying Hazardous Substances available from the Australian Government Publishing Service.
The implications if hazardous substances are used (meaning the production, handling, storage, transport or disposal) in the workplace are substantial.
An assessment requires the identification of the;
An assessment is required for each process or operation and job category, (including those persons apblankly not directly involved) where hazardous substances are used or produced in the workplace and where there is potential exposure to the substance. The assessment must be suitable and sufficient for all risks to health created by the work. Only retailers and retail warehouse operators need not undertake assessments under specified conditions.
Broadly, there are two levels of assessments;
|Simple if an insignificant level of risk is anticipated (such as in the retail sector) and with reasonable certainty; or|
|Detailed assessment if the risk is potentially substantial or uncertain.|
New assessment is required for a range of reasons, and always with review at intervals not exceeding 5 years.
It is useful to note that generic (ie. collective) assessments are allowed for which creates opportunities for industry associations to reduce costs for their members.
Monitoring is required by the National Model Regulations when;
|indicated by an assessment;|
|evaluating introduced control measures; or|
|the level of atmospheric exposure is close to exposure standards.|
|a significant risk to health by exposure to certain substances listed in Schedule 3 in the National Model Regulations for Control of Workplace Hazardous Substances; or|
|other hazardous substances for which there is;|
|an identifiable disease or health effect that may be related to the exposure; and|
|a reasonable likelihood that the disease or health effect may occur under the particular conditions of work; and|
|valid techniques for detecting indications of the disease or the effect; or|
|valid biological monitoring procedure is available and a reasonable likelihood that accepted values may be exceeded.|
|As far as practicable control exposure to hazardous substances in the workplace to minimise risk to health and safety;|
|Ensure no employee is exposed to hazardous substances at levels above the relevant exposure standards listed in the Exposure Standards for Atmospheric Contaminants in the Occupational Environment; and|
|Effectively maintain all engineering controls, safe working practices and personal protective equipment.|
. Information is a key aspect addressed with a key source of information being the Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS).
The MSDS is a structured document which provides information about a specific substance for general application. It describes the identity, health hazards, precautions for use, safe handling, storage and disposal information. An MSDS is required to be available for all hazardous substances that may be used (ie. handled, stored or transported) in the workplace.
The MSDS has to comply with the National Code of Practice for the Preparation of Material Safety Data Sheets.
The National Model Regulations require the MSDS;
|to be reviewed and re-issued at intervals not exceeding 5 years, or when there are changes in detail or information;|
|to be provided by manufacturers or importers; and|
|provided before, or with the first supply of the substance.|
|substances not intended for use in the workplace (eg. the home);|
|suppliers to retailers and for retail warehouse operators, for substances in consumer packages which hold less that 30 kilograms or 30 litres and which are not intended to be opened;|
|laboratories, for preparations, samples or reaction intermediates; and|
|for hazardous substances produced and used within the workplace, or for by-products, wastes or fugitive emissions.|
. Labels often represent the first source of information about chemicals in the workplace with more comprehensive information available from the MSDS (ie. if the contents is a hazardous substance). The labelling of substances used in the workplace is described in the National Code of Practice for the Labelling of Workplace Substances.
With exceptions and some additions, workplace labels are required for containers for;
|decanted and not consumed immediately (though the label need only have the product name and risk and safety phrases);|
|articles (and substances) which can produce hazardous substances during use (eg. welding rods); and|
|containers not cleaned (until no longer containing the hazardous substances).|
Also excluded are; tanks and bulk stores (to be placarded); and enclosed systems, such as pipes, process vessels and reactor vessels (marked according to AS 1345, Identification of the Contents of Piping, Conduits and Ducts).
Suppliers of workplace substances and employers have primary responsibility to ensure workplace hazardous substances are correctly labelled.
|Suppliers assume the responsibility for correct labelling of hazardous substances supplied to others.|
|Employers must ensure all containers of hazardous substances are appropriately labelled|
Information on the workplace label includes prescribed risk and safety phrases, first aid details, emergency procedures and reference to the MSDS.
As also specified for the MSDS, there is specific guidance for the commercially sensitive topic of ingredient disclosure on the label.
First the ingredients may be identified by a prescribed percentage range if commercially confidential.
Second commercially confidentiality is recognised by allowing the ingredients
to be classified to three types. Hazardous substances, other
than certain harmful substances (that may be identified by a generic
name for which guidelines are provided), must be identified by the chemical
name. For other substances, a statement, other ingredients determined
no to be hazardous is allowed.
More detailed information on the workplace label.
The minimum requirement for a register is a MSDS for all the hazardous substances used in the workplace. A register can also record the result of an assessment completed steps in the assessment process, date MSDS is reviewed and record control measures are in place.
Other information which may be included on the register for each substance are; date, or date of commencement, of introduction; product name; CAS registry number; name (and synonyms); ingredients, or (as a minimum) the ingredients which are hazardous substances; maximum quantities (of the product and ingredients, or hazardous ingredients); locations; and, date of withdrawal or cessation of production or manufacture.
The register should be kept current to record the withdrawal of substances including the cessation of production. As a minimum, the register, detailing the names of hazardous substances used in the workplace, must be maintained and held for five years from the date each substance is no longer used.
Training is a key feature of the National Model Regulations premised that information is only useful if understood and capable of use.
Training, whether by the employer or a nominated consultant, is required to;
|relate to the risk associated with the work activities for which the workplace assessment provides guidance;|
|reflect the level of skill, language and literacy and previous training of the employees;|
|be evaluated in terms of its original objective;|
|be repeated as required with the need reviewed at least every 12 months but more frequently if there are changes to;|
|- information on the hazards,|
|- work practices,|
|- control measures, or|
|- operations, locations or other variables which influences the risks.|
|General, (not specific to substances);|
|theory of hazards, risks, controls, safety procedures etc;|
|information sources, including the MSDS, labels, placards, manifests, registers etc. and in terms of purpose, interpretation, access, etc;|
|controls (engineering and procedural), practices, routine measures etc;|
|personal protective equipment and clothing, including selection, maintenance, decontamination and use;|
|participation procedures and rights of employees, in terms of reasons for;|
|data interpretation, and|
|new substance requirements, including controls, assessment and employee rights.|
|emergency procedures, including;|
|fire, spills and disposal,|
|first aid, and|
|Hazards, risks to health, the degree of exposure and routes of entry, symptoms, etc; and|
|Controls, work practices and procedures relating to the safe use, storage, transportation, clean up and disposal of the substance.|
As also for transport, storage regulations are generally based on the hazard characteristics as indicated by the class of dangerous goods class, Sub-Risk, packaging group and UN number. These information elements indicate the nature of the hazards and should be available from the relevant Material Safety Data Sheet.
A particularly useful source of information are Safe Storage and Handling Guides available from Standards Australia which is also part of their CHEMCARD software system.
Worksafe Australia is developing a National Regulatory Model Storage and Handling of Dangerous Goods. It will be adopted by the States to achieve national uniformity in the storage and handling of dangerous good by replacing current regulations.
. State enforced regulations cover the transport of dangerous goods which call up the Australian Code for the Transport of Dangerous Goods by Road and Rail (ADG Code) with only minor variations. IATA accreditation applies to the transport by air and specific State regulation applies to explosives (including flares, ammunition etc). The codes are generally consistent with international practices and applies to dangerous goods moved outside the premises.
The regulations address procedures for managing and packaging chemicals as well as a system of diamond-shaped placarding and labels and other information-based actions designed to encourage appropriate response by other persons. It is a key document and its principles are reflected in current storage regulations.
Whereas occupational health and safety legislation address product-related injury in the workplace, Part VA of the Trade Practices Act 1974 covers injury related to the use of the product by the consumer. A deceptive conduct statute is described in section.
The Act primarily addresses defective (unsafe) products that are not as safe as persons in the community are generally entitled to expect. It supplements existing laws for negligence for defective products under;
|breach of contract; and|
Three types of defects are recognised;
|Manufacturing defects that are inadvertent and unplanned (as a result of production, transport or storage). These are normally one-off in a product or production-run.|
|Design or formulation defects that occur at the beginning of design or formulation. These are repeated defects and inherent in the product.|
|Informational defects from information conveyed or not conveyed (ie. information that should have been conveyed, whether deliberate or inadvertently). Labelling, literature, guarantees, advertising and promotion and information media. Included is a failure to identify a risk whether known or should have been known.|
|Importers, where the manufacture is overseas;|
|Persons, who apply their own names or marks;|
|Manufacturers of components of the finished goods; and|
|Producers of raw materials.|
Claimants may be product purchasers, consumers, bystanders, workplace employees, consumer groups etc., if these have suffered;
|Loss through injury to another person, or|
|other goods that are for personal, domestic or household use; or|
|land, buildings or fixtures that are ordinarily acquired for personal use.|
|Product was defective or unsafe, and|
|Loss or damage was caused by the defect.|
|Manner of marketing;|
|The presentation, including markings;|
|Warnings and instructions on harmful products.|
|Failure to warn at time of supply of known and discoverable risks (including known or should have been known including for regulations and foreseeable misuse of the product);|
|reasonably expected uses, including misuses; and|
|times at which the goods were supplied.|
Since March 1992, class action may be used when there are more than seven persons with common claims.
Part VA provides for joint and several liability (ie. two or more parties may be held collectively and individually liable).
Damage may be for;
|Damage to real property; and, under certain circumstances|
|A statute of repose that places a limit of ten years after supply for which a claim must be commenced;|
|A limit of three years from the date of becoming aware of the defect or injury;|
|The product was delivered at a state of art knowledge about the ability to detect the defect or the injury (ie. not able to detect the defect). Therefore one must be able to claim the product was tested to detect all defects according to current state of knowledge of technology and awareness of all risks of injury.|
|The defect arose after supply (and not reasonably anticipated etc); and|
|Defective due to compliance with legislation;|
|defect is attributable to the design of the finished goods; or|
|relates to the markings instructions or warnings of the finished goods.|
Measures to minimise claims and costs include;
|Regular process and product testing (quality control including of containers),|
|Legal review of;|
|warnings and instructions on products,|
|promotional material and advertising,|
|guarantees and warranties,|
|contracts for the;|
|purchase of raw materials/components (including packaging),|
|supply of goods,|
|literature and research to maintain awareness of risks, and|
|legislation related to occupational health and safety,|
|product recall from market, and|
Guide to Chemicals in Australia -Volume 2, Using, Moving and Storing Chemicals. ISBN 0-646-03992-X, published by Chemlink Pty Ltd, Perth WA.