In Australia, all workplaces must fulfil criteria specified by law in order for businesses to keep their employees, contractors, visitors, or any person in their establishments safe. Breaking compliance endanger lives, and it also comes with severe legal penalties.
The laws covering workplace health and safety compliance are often complex. It is a fact that no two workplaces are exactly alike. This also translate that they will not share the same risk factors and compliance issues.
Workplace safety compliance is structured around being aware of and assessing risk factors and safety issues that are unique to a specific workplace. By knowing this, they can now develop a plan for how to mitigate these safety issues and handle them.
While each workplace has unique compliance issues, they share many common strategies for planning, handling, mitigation, and legal responsibilities of workplace health and safety. Work Health and Safety laws vary by state and territory. It also depends on the degree of severity or liability involved.
Here, we will discuss Top 5 ways for businesses that handle chemicals and hazardous substances to stay compliant, along with some strategies for the implementation of safeguards.
Ensuring Workplace Safety Compliance.
As a business owner, you have a legal responsibility to manage health and safety in the workplace. It is therefore important to understand which health and safety requirements apply to your business type and location.
At Wholesale Safety Storage Australia, we are all about providing safety storage devices to our clients. We help ensure that hazardous chemicals and materials stored in your workplace remain safe and comply with Australian WHS laws.
Create a comprehensive list of the hazardous chemicals and substances you are using.
Knowing which chemicals, substances, and materials you work with is the first and the most important step you have to undertake in storing these items safely. It is pertinent to identify each substance you have onsite. Gain a comprehensive understanding of their properties and the hazards they pose.
In the case of chemicals, are they:
Additionally, it is also vital to note if these substances are self-reactive or does it react to sunlight or the air. Are these substances incompatible with other substances? Can these substances affect the immediate environment and/or aquatic life negatively?
Review the substance’s Safety Data Sheet (SDS) provided by the supplier, manufacturer, importer and study them closely. The substance’s SDS should specify the storage requirements that the chemical/substance/material may require.
Along with this, the SDS should also specify which substances are incompatible with it and detail which environmental impact that may cause adverse reaction if they are accidentally released.
Chemical Risk Assessment.
The next step you have to undertake after identifying the chemicals and their properties is to conduct a risk assessment why these chemicals or substances are dangerous. Intently inspect at each risk associated with each chemical’s use.
Consider the following:
- Can it cause fire and possible explosions?
- Can workers be asphyxiated in the event of leaks or accidental release?
- Are the substance’s carcinogenic and cause cancer from long term exposure>
- Are they corrosive that may react with metals or damage your building or plant?
- What is their toxicity level?
Creating a master list of these materials/substances/chemicals you use onsite that you can make by collating all of these substances SDSs. Note every hazard and risk for each substance/chemical and which compliant storage device they can be safely stored in.
Control Each Risk Factor Systematically.
WHS Managers and Professionals an international standard known as the Hierarchy of Control, which you can use and implement too.
Five control measures can be considered when using this hierarchy of control and must be performed in the order presented below.
- Elimination – is it possible to stop the chemical?
- Substitution – are there other chemicals you can use that poses less harm?
- Engineering Controls – Is it possible for you to design/implement a policy to lessen the number of employees that will be exposed to the chemical/substance.
- Administrative Controls – what safe work methods can you implement?
- PPE – what protective equipment will be required when working to protect workers?
The aim in risk control is to completely eradicate any untoward risk wherever possible. The use of PPE should be the last resort and only be considered for use once all other control measures have already been assessed fully.
Anyone working with chemicals know that these substances may cause harm. It is therefore vital not only knowing the specific risks they pose, in having them at your worksite.
With this information, it is good practice to take proactive measures to ensure these hazardous substances are stored safely and in compliance.
When deciding on the best storage method, begin with the chemical’s hazard class as well as their specifications as outlined on the substance’s SDS.
The SDS is your go-to document, which will not only tell you if a specific chemical should be stored indoor or outdoors. The SDS will also tell you whether it needs to be stored away from other substances, including exposure to light, and if it needs proper ventilation.
For us at WSSA, it may look something like this:
Dangerous Goods / Substances / Chemicals
|Summary of Material
|Compliant WSSA Product to Use
|Class 2 – Extremely flammable gas that may explode if heated. May displace oxygen and cause rapid suffocation, and may form explosive mixture with air.
|AEROSOL STORAGE CAGE: ASC12, ASC32, ASC64, ASC132, ASC220, ASC440, ASC850 LPG GAS CYLINDER CAGES: BGBC2, BGBC4, BGBC6, BGBC8, BGBC16 FORKLIFT GAS CYLINDER CAGE: FGBC2 G/G2 HIGH PRESSURE GAS CYLINDER CAGE: HPGCC2, HPGCC4, HPGCC6, HPGCC9, HPGCC18 COMBINATION GAS CYLINDER CAGE: COMBO-HP-FGBC
|Class 3 – Highly Flammable liquid and vapour and can cause serious eye irritation. May cause drowsiness or dizziness
|INDOOR FLAMMABLE LIQUIDS CABINETS: FLC30, FLC60, FLC100, FLC160, FLC250E, FLC350, FLC250LL, FLC250SL, FGC205V, FLC450, FLC650, FLC850, FLC850P
|Class 8 – Flammable liquid and vapour that can cause severe skin burns and eye damage.
|INDOOR CORROSIVE CHEMICAL STORAGE CABINETS: CSC30, CSC60, CSC100, CSC160, CSC250, CSC350, CSC450
Do note that it does not stop once these items are safely stored compliantly. It is warranted to conduct another risk assessment and revisit all your safety control measures to ensure no new hazards have been introduced to the workplace.
Set up a comprehensive system to maintain compliance.
Workplaces are a constant beehive of activity, and as such they are also in a constant state of change. New chemicals may be introduced to the worksite, operating procedures are amended, and work areas are relocated.
As it is vital to sustain a safe workplace and in compliance to WHS, it is essential to review your safety control measures. By doing so, you may be able to curb and arrest administrative controls that may be ineffective.
Any business that handles hazardous chemicals and substances needs to know what goes into quality, regulation compliant, storage equipment. In case of untoward incidents, it is your first point of defence. To ensure the safety of your business, it is always best to do your homework and abide by the proper safety regulations.
Our team at Wholesale Safety Storage Australia is pleased to offer Australian made, regulation compliant, and reasonably priced storage equipment in various sizes and configurations to meet the needs of any company. Visit our articles page to learn more about safety storing chemicals/materials and meeting Australian safety regulations.