Dangerous Goods

Dangerous goods are substances that are corrosive, flammable, explosive, spontaneously combustible, toxic, oxidising or water-reactive. Petrol, LPG, paints, pesticides and acids are examples of commonly used dangerous goods.

Incidents involving dangerous goods typically result in explosions or fires and have the potential to cause serious or fatal injuries as well as large-scale damage to property and the surrounding environment.

Unsafe use of dangerous goods can also cause poisoning, chemical burns and other serious health problems.

These types of goods are widely used in industry, so it's vital that they are stored, handled and transported safely.

The Dangerous Goods Act

The Dangerous Goods Act 1985 sets out the general duties for the manufacture, storage, transport, transfer, sale and use of dangerous goods and the import of explosives into Victoria. The Act also enables regulations to be made about dangerous goods.

Dangerous goods are defined in the Dangerous Goods Act 1985 and are classified in the Australian Code for the Transport of Dangerous Goods by Road and Rail (ADG 7.3 Code) according to their common hazardous properties.

Some dangerous goods, such as explosives, high consequence dangerous goods and asbestos, have particular risks and are dealt with under specific legislation.

There are also specific regulations governing the transport of dangerous goods.

The Dangerous Goods Storage and Handling Regulations

They are defined in the Dangerous Goods Act 1985 and are classified in the Australian Code for the Transport of Dangerous Goods by Road and Rail (ADG 7.3 Code) according to their common hazardous properties.

Some dangerous goods, such as explosives, high consequence dangerous goods and asbestos, have particular risks and are dealt with under specific legislation.

The key dangerous goods storage and handling regulations detail the requirements regarding:

  • classification and labeling
  • preparation of a Material Safety Data Sheet
  • worker consultation and training
  • risk assessment and review
  • design of new premises, plant, processes and systems of work
  • fire protection systems
  • external placarding
  • registers
  • incidents, and
  • notification of quantities in excess of manifest quantities.

More information on the key changes introduced by the Dangerous Goods (Storage & Handling) Regulations 2012, can be found here.

Information about selling dangerous goods in consumer packages is available here.

Information about Incident reporting is available here.

Code of Practice for the Storage and Handling of Dangerous Goods

On 11 October 2013, the Code of Practice for the Storage and Handling of Dangerous Goods 2013 came into effect. It replaces the old version of this Code (published 8 December 2000).

The new Code provides practical guidance on how to comply with the Dangerous Goods (Storage and Handling) Regulations 2012 (DG (S&H) Regulations 2012) for manufacturers, suppliers and occupiers. It should be read in conjunction with the Dangerous Goods Act 1985 and the DG (S&H) Regulations 2012.

View the Dangerous Goods Storage and Handling Code of Practice here.

What has changed?

Some old content has been updated to reflect the changes introduced by the DG (S&H) Regulations 2012. For more information on these changes, see Key changes to dangerous goods storage and handling requirements.

A number of changes relate to structure and improved layout, for example several practical examples and diagrams have been added as appendices to help demonstrate what compliance looks like. The parts on retailers' duties and minor storages of dangerous goods have been removed. Separate additional guidance is being developed for retailers of dangerous goods.

Important legal information

The practical guidance in this Code is not mandatory. That is, a person may choose to comply with their duties in some other way, provided the method used also fulfils the requirements of the DG (S&H) Regulations 2012. A person cannot be prosecuted simply for failing to comply with the new Code. However, in legal proceedings, failure to observe the new Code can be used as evidence that a person has contravened or failed to comply with the DG (S&H) Regulations 2012. If a person has not adopted the method described in the new Code, it is up to that person to show the legal requirement in the DG (S&H) Regulations 2012 has been met by an alternative method. Therefore, the practical guidance in the new Code should be followed unless there is an alternative course of action that would also fulfil the requirements of these Regulations.

The new Code was developed in consultation with employer, employee and industry group representatives, consultants, and government agencies. It was released for a 28 day public comment period starting 4 April 2013 and ending 2 May 2013. Download a summary of public comment and WorkSafe's response here (pdf 169kb).

How Are Dangerous Goods Different To Hazardous Substances?

Dangerous goods and hazardous substances are classified according to different criteria. Dangerous goods are classified on the basis of immediate physical or chemical effects – such as fire, explosion, corrosion and poisoning – on property, the environment or people. They are covered by the Dangerous Goods (Storage and Handling) Regulations 2012.

Hazardous substances are classified only on the basis of health effects, both immediate and long-term. They are covered by the Occupational Health and Safety Regulations 2007.

Many substances are both hazardous substances and dangerous goods, and in these cases, both sets of laws will apply.

However for some duties, complying with one set of regulations will be enough to ensure compliance with the other.

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