Does your workplace hold or use hazardous substances?

Many businesses and organisations are not aware of their obligations in relation to the storage, use and handling of hazardous substances in their place of work.

Health and Safety Consultant Kelvin Sparks says that Worksafe estimates that around one in every three businesses in New Zealand manufacture, use, handle or store hazardous substances.

“Since hazardous substances are so prevalent across New Zealand workplaces, it is really important that those responsible for health and safety in the workplace understand the risks and know how to protect people from harm,” Kelvin says.

“The statistics are pretty frightening with hazardous substances contributing to an estimated 600 to 900 deaths and 30,000 cases of serious ill health from work-related disease each year in New Zealand,” Kelvin says.

The Health and Safety at Work (Hazardous Substances) Regulations 2017 set out the rules for work-related activities involving hazardous substances and Kelvin and the team at Health and Safety at Work NZ can help organisations meet their obligations under this legislation.

“The range of workplaces that contain hazardous substances is very extensive and includes farms, factories, paint and panel shops, construction businesses and even schools,” Kelvin says.

According to Kelvin, the first step for any organisation is to create an inventory of all hazardous substances that are manufactured, handled, used or stored at the workplace.

“Quantities are very important, particularly when it comes to potentially flammable or corrosive substances that could cause a fire, explosion or chemical spill,’ Kelvin says.

For example, if you have more than 100kg of LPG or more than 50 litres of petrol stored in a single location, you will need a location compliance certificate. Kelvin and the team at HSWNZ are able to assist with certification for you, as well as arranging certification of stationary containers and process containers.

If you need help understanding your organisation’s obligations in relation to hazardous substances in your workplace, Kelvin and the HSWNZ team recommend getting in touch via phone or email.

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