Federal Register of Legislation - Australian Government

Primary content

Codes & Codes of Practice as made
This Code provides practical guidance to persons with a duty of care under the Occupational Health and Safety Act 1991 and associated regulations.
Administered by: Education, Employment and Workplace Relations
Made 02 Jun 2008
Registered 11 Jun 2008
Tabled HR 16 Jun 2008
Tabled Senate 16 Jun 2008
Date of repeal 01 Jan 2012
Repealed by Repeal of the enabling legislation by Work Health and Safety (Transitional and Consequential Provisions) Act 2011
Table of contents.

 

Occupational Health and Safety Code of Practice 2008

 

 

I, The Hon Julia Gillard MP, Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations, approve the following Code of Practice under subsection 70(1) of the Occupational Health and Safety Act 1991.

 

 

 

Dated: 2 June 2008

 

 

 

 

 

 

[Signed]

 

The Hon Julia Gillard MP

Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations

1        Name of Code of Practice

This instrument is the Occupational Health and Safety Code of Practice 2008

 

2        Application

Pursuant to paragraph 70(4) (a) of the Occupational Health and Safety Act 1991, this Code of Practice is to apply generally.

 

3        Commencement

This Code of Practice commences the day after it is registered.

 

 

 

4          Revocation

            This instrument revokes all current Approved Codes of Practice.

 

Approved Codes of Practice for Revocation

item

Notice/Registration  No

Description

Gazette/Registration

 

1

F2006L02336

Approved Code of Practice for the Storage and Handling of Dangerous Goods.

13/7/06

2

F2005L01441

Approved Code of Practice for Noise.

10/6/05

3

1/2004

Approved Code of Practice for Control of Work-related Exposure to Hepatitis and HIV viruses in the Australian Government Employment.

GN 34

25/8/04

4

3/1999

Approved Code of Practice for First Aid in the Commonwealth Workplaces.

GN 45

10/11/99

5

2/1999

Approved Code of Practice on the Control and Safe Use of Inorganic Lead in Commonwealth Employment.

S190

7/5/99

6

1/1999

Approved Code of Practice on the Control of Scheduled Carcinogenic Substances in Commonwealth Employment.

S190

7/5/99

7

1/1995

Approved Code of Practice on Confined Spaces.

GN49

13/12/95

8

1/1995

Approved Code of Practice on Limiting Occupational Exposure to Ionizing Radiation.

GN49

13/12/95

9

1/1995

Approved Code of Practice on the Control of Workplace Hazardous Substances.

GN49

13/12/95

10

1/1994

Approved Code of Practice on Occupational Health and Safety Competency Standards for the Operation of Loadshifting Equipment and Other Types of Specified Equipment

 

GN2

18/1/95

Approved Codes of Practice for Revocation

Item

Notice/Registration 

Description

Gazette/Registration

 

11

2/1994

Approved Code of Practice on the Prevention of Occupational Overuse Syndrome.

GN1

11/1/95

12

2/1993

Approved Code of Practice on Workplace Injury and Disease Recording.

GN29

28/7/93

13

2/1993

Approved Code of Practice for the Safe Use of Ethylene Oxide in Sterilisation and Fumigation Processes. 

GN29

28/7/93

14

1/1993

Approved Code of Practice on Protection of Workers from Ultraviolet Radiation in Sunlight.

GN3

27/1/93

15

2/1992

Approved Code of Practice on Indoor Air Quality.

GN37

16/9/92

16

2/1992

Approved Code of Practice for the Transport of Dangerous Goods

GN37

16/9/92

17

2/1992

Approved Code of Practice on Non Ionizing Radiation.

GN37

16/9/92

18

2/1992

Approved Code of Practice on Vibration.

GN37

16/9/92

19

2/1992

Approved Code of Practice on Safety in Laboratories.

GN37

16/9/92

20

2/1992

Approved Code of Practice on Interior Lighting.

Amended: by Notice 1/1995- GN49-13/12/95

GN

16/9/92

21

2/1992

Approved Code of practice for Visual Display Units

Amended: by Notice 1/1995- GN49-13/12/95

GN15

15/4/92

22

1/1992

Approved Code of Practice on Asbestos.

GN15

15/4/92

23

1/1992

Approved Code of Practice for the Safe Handling of Timber Preservatives and Treated Timber.

GN15

15/4/92

Approved Codes of Practice for Revocation

Item

Notice/Registration  Number

Description

Gazette/Registration

Number

24

1/1992

Approved Code of Practice on Vinyl Chloride.

GN15

15/4/92

25

1/1992

Approved Code of Practice for Synthetic Mineral Fibres.

GN15

15/4/92

26

1/1992

Approved Code of Practice for a Chemical Database for Emergency Services.

GN15

15/4/92

27

1/1992

Approved Code of Practice on Manual Handling.

Amended: by Notice 1/1993-GN3-27/1/93

Amended: by Notice 1/1995- GN49- 13/12/95

GN

15/4/92

 


FOREWORD

The Safety, Rehabilitation and Compensation Commission (SRCC) oversee the operation of the Occupational Health and Safety Act 1991 (the Act). The functions of the Commission include:

·                develop occupational health and safety policies and strategies and ensure compliance with the Act

·                advise the Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations on matters relating to the Act.

Comcare is a statutory body established by the Australian Government to lead and promote efforts to prevent and reduce the incidence of occupational injury and disease as well as promote safety by producing a healthy and safe work environment.

Comcare undertakes a number of functions on behalf of the Commission. Comcare’s activities include education, regulation, enforcement, research and the provision of relevant policy advice to both the Commission and persons covered by the Act. 

Comcare developed this Code of Practice on behalf of the Commission.

 

 


CONTENTS

 

INTRODUCTION.. 18

THE COMMONWEALTH OCCUPATIONAL HEALTH AND SAFETY LEGISLATIVE FRAMEWORK   18

LEGAL STATUS AND APPLICATION OF THIS CODE OF PRACTICE.. 18

CODE TO BE READ IN CONJUnCTION WITH THE ACT AND REGULATIONS. 19

consultation provisions. 19

PART 1 – RISK MANAGEMENT.. 20

INTRODUCTION.. 20

PURPOSE.. 20

SCOPE.. 20

DEFINITIONS. 21

Responsibilities of manufacturers, suppliers, erectors and installers  22

RESPONSIBILITIES OF EMPLOYERS. 22

Responsibility to consult 23

Identify hazards. 23

Assess the risks. 24

Implement risk control measures. 28

Substitution controls. 29

Isolation controls. 29

Engineering controls. 29

Administrative controls. 30

Provide personal protective equipment (PPE) 30

Monitor and review the risk management program.. 30

Keep records. 31

RESPONSIBILITIES OF EMPLOYEES. 31

PART 2 – FIRST AID.. 32

INTRODUCTION.. 32

PURPOSE.. 32

SCOPE.. 32

DEFINITIONS. 33

RESPONSIBILITIES OF EMPLOYERs. 34

Identify vaccination needs. 34

Identify workplace groups. 34

Provide first aid kits. 34

Determine locations for first aid kits. 35

Supply contents for first aid kits. 36

Determine the need for additional first aid equipment or supplies. 37

Undertake maintenance and replenishment of first aid kits. 38

Allocate first aid officers. 38

Provide training for first aid officers. 39

Provide and maintain first aid rooms where required. 39

Develop and implement a first aid policy. 40

Provide information to employees on first aid procedures. 41

Retain records on first aid incidents. 42

EMPLOYERS IN CONTROL OF HIGH–RISK WORK.. 42

Identify hazards in high–risk workplaces. 42

Assess the risks. 42

Provide additional first aid arrangements for high-risk work. 43

RESPONSIBILITiES OF EMPLOYEES. 43

PART 3 – NOISE.. 44

INTRODUCTION.. 44

PURPOSE.. 44

SCOPE.. 44

DEFINITIONS. 44

RESPONSIBILITIES OF MANUFACTURERS, SUPPLIERS AND INSTALLERS. 47

Design and construct plant with safe noise levels. 47

RESPONSIBILITIES OF EMPLOYERS. 48

Identify hazards. 48

Assess the risks. 48

Implement risk control measures. 49

Use engineering controls. 49

Use administrative controls. 51

Develop a noise control policy and program of action. 51

Provide audiometric testing. 53

Provide training. 55

Provide personal hearing protectors. 56

RESPONSIBILITIES OF EMPLOYEES AND CONTRACTORS. 58

Use personal hearing protection provided. 58

Report defective noise control equipment 58

part 4 – MANUAL TASKS. 59

PART 5 – VIBRATION.. 60

INTRODUCTION.. 60

PURPOSE.. 60

SCOPE.. 60

DEFINiTIONS. 60

RESPONSIBILITIES OF MANUFACTURERS, SUPPLIERS, ERECTORS AND INSTALLERS OF PLANT and equipment. 61

Prevent risks of vibration. 61

Provide information. 61

RESPONSIBILITIES OF EMPLOYERS IN CONTROL OF PLANT. 62

Identify hazards. 62

Assess the risks. 62

Implement risk control measures. 63

Establish limits for exposure to whole–body vibration. 63

Establish limits for exposure to hand/arm vibration. 64

Select and provide appropriate tools. 64

Implement safe systems of work. 65

Provide personal protective equipment (PPE) 66

Provide information, training and supervision. 66

Monitor and review control measures. 67

Keep Records. 67

RESPONSIBILITIES OF EMPLOYEES. 67

PART 6 – Human Immunodeficiency Virus and Hepatitis B & C.. 69

INTRODUCTION.. 69

PURPOSE.. 69

SCOPE.. 69

DEFINITIONS. 70

RESPONSIBILITIES OF EMPLOYERS. 70

Identify hazards. 70

Assess the risks. 71

Implement risk control measures. 72

Eliminate the risk. 72

Use engineering controls. 72

Use administrative controls. 73

Use personal protective equipment (PPE) 73

Implement standard precautions. 73

Implement HBV vaccination protocol 74

Provide education and training. 75

Develop safe work procedures. 76

Implement procedures for storage, transport and disposal of clinical waste. 76

Implement post-exposure procedures. 76

Implement procedures for the provision of counselling. 77

Implement guidelines for testing, monitoring and informed consent 78

Develop guidelines for notification and record keeping. 79

Implement program of regular monitoring and evaluation. 79

RESPONSIBILITIES OF EMPLOYEES. 79

Comply with risk control measures. 79

part 7 – CONFINED SPACES. 81

INTRODUCTION.. 81

PURPOSE.. 81

SCOPE.. 81

DEFINITIONS. 82

RESPONSIBILITiES OF MANUFACTURERS and importers. 82

Eliminate risks in the design. 82

Ensure entry and exit is not affected. 82

RESPONSIBILITiES OF EMPLOYERS. 82

Identify hazards. 82

Assess the risks. 84

Generic risk assessments. 86

Review of risk assessments. 86

Implement risk control measures prior to entry. 86

Ensure the confined space is isolated from any hazardous services. 86

Withdrawing a confined space from use. 87

Establish safety precautions. 87

Prevent contamination. 87

De-energise equipment and devices in a confined space. 88

Establish cleaning and disposal procedures. 89

Use of the purging process. 90

Implement risk control measures when entering a confined space. 90

Provide for effective ventilation in a confined space. 90

Ensure safe atmospheric conditions are maintained. 91

Conduct atmospheric testing and evaluation. 91

Evacuate or monitor when there are flammable contaminants. 92

Provide written approval for entry to a confined space. 92

Provide a stand-by person. 93

Develop effective communication. 94

Use appropriate signs and barriers. 94

Provide suitable safety equipment 95

Provide respiratory devices. 95

Provide safety harnesses. 95

Ensure safe use of electrical equipment 95

Establish emergency and rescue procedures. 96

Provide education and training. 96

Establish record keeping procedures for training and entry permits. 97

responsibilities of employees. 98

part 8 – INDOOR AIR QUALITY.. 99

INTRODUCTION.. 99

PURPOSE.. 99

SCOPE.. 99

DEFINITIONS. 100

RESPONSIBILITIES OF MANUFACTURERS, SUPPLIERS AND ERECTORS/INSTALLERS  100

Ensure the air-handling system is designed and installed correctly. 100

RESPONSIBILITiES OF EMPLOYERS WITH CONTROL OF THE AIR handling SYSTEM    100

Identify hazards. 101

Assess the risks. 101

Implement risk control measures. 101

Develop effective procedures for the operation, maintenance and testing of the air – handling system. 101

Conduct air-handling system quality tests. 102

Establish accurate and up to date record procedures. 103

RESPONSIBILITIES OF EMPLOYERS WITHOUT CONTROL OF THE AIR HANDLING SYSTEM    103

Establish tenancy agreements and procedures for the air handling system.. 103

Develop procedures within the agreement for maintenance and testing. 104

Control air pollutants. 104

Respond to air quality issues. 104

RESPONSIBILITIES OF EMPLOYEES. 105

part 9 – Safety in Laboratories. 106

INTRODUCTION.. 106

PURPOSE.. 106

SCOPE.. 106

DEFINITIONS. 107

RESPONSIBILITiES OF EMPLOYERs. 107

Ensure appropriate design and construction. 107

Identify hazards. 108

Assess the risks. 108

Implement risk control measures. 108

Control chemical risks. 108

Control biological risks. 109

Control radiation risks. 109

Control mechanical risks. 109

Control electrical risks. 110

Control risks associated with fumes. 110

Provide Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) 110

Develop written safety procedures for the laboratory. 111

Provide training. 111

Implement appropriate emergency and rescue procedures. 112

responsibilities of employees. 112

part 10 – ASBESTOS IN SITU.. 113

part 11 – STORAGE AND HANDLING OF DANGEROUS GOODS. 114

INTRODUCTION.. 114

PURPOSE.. 114

SCOPE.. 114

DEFINITIONS. 117

RESPONSIBILITIES OF MANUFACTURERS, IMPORTERS AND SUPpLIERS OF DANGEROUS GOODS. 117

RESPONSIBILITIES OF EMPLOYERS. 117

Design safe facilities. 117

Identify hazards. 118

Consider other hazard sources. 119

Assess the risks. 120

Implement risk control measures. 120

Control hazards at the design stage. 121

Control hazards in the workplace. 121

Eliminate hazards. 122

Eliminate the activity. 122

Substitute or modify the hazards. 122

Isolate the hazard. 123

Use engineering methods to control the hazard. 123

Use administrative controls. 124

Provide Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) 124

Monitor and review controls. 125

Specific risk control measures. 126

Separate dangerous goods from people, protected places, and other property. 126

Separate dangerous goods from incompatible substances. 127

Keep dangerous goods stable. 127

Protect structures and plant from impact 128

Protect containers for bulk dangerous goods from impact 128

Protect the environment 128

Ensure the integrity of containers. 129

Contain spills of dangerous goods. 129

Eliminate risks when transferring dangerous goods. 130

Provide fire protection in the workplace. 131

Develop and implement emergency procedures. 134

Develop and implement emergency plans. 134

Provide safety equipment to control risks. 136

Provide emergency equipment for spills. 136

Eliminate ignition sources in hazardous areas. 137

Prevent static electricity. 138

Control hazardous atmospheres. 139

Use purging. 140

Provide sufficient lighting for the workplace. 140

Implement security measures. 141

Dispose of plant, equipment and containers. 141

Provide information. 142

Provide information for health and safety procedures. 142

Provide an MSDS. 143

Ensure risk assessments are made available to employees. 144

Provide information for plant and structures. 144

Maintain a manifest register for emergency purposes. 145

Maintain a register of information for dangerous goods. 145

Provide a diagram of the site plan. 146

Review and revise risk assessments. 146

NOTIFICATION OF STORAGE AND HANDLING OF DANGEROUS GOODS. 147

Mark containers on receivable dangerous goods. 148

Mark containers at the workplace. 148

Provide placards for the workplace. 149

Calculate the quantities of dangerous goods. 149

Use placards. 149

Placard bulk dangerous goods. 149

Provide placards to the perimeter or access points to the workplace. 150

Locate placards correctly within the workplace. 150

Ensure the accuracy of placards. 151

Provide education, training and supervision. 151

Consult with employees. 151

Provide induction and training. 152

Provide supervision. 153

Ensure the safety of visitors. 153

RESPONSIBILITIES OF AN EMPLOYER WHO BUILDS, OWNS OR OPERATES A PIPELINE   154

Notify dangerous goods transferred through pipelines. 154

RESPONSIBILITIES OF EMPLOYEES. 155

part 12 – HAZARDOUS SUBSTANCES. 156

INTRODUCTION.. 156

PURPOSE.. 156

SCOPE.. 156

DEFINITIONS. 156

RESPONSIBILITIES OF MANUFACTURERS and suppliers. 157

RESPONSIBILITIES OF EMPLOYERS. 157

Identify hazards. 157

Obtain MSDS and make available to employees. 158

Ensure containers are labelled. 158

Assess the risks. 159

Implement risk control measures. 161

Eliminate the hazard. 161

Use substitution control measures. 161

Use isolation control measures. 162

Use engineering controls. 162

Use administrative controls. 162

Provide Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) 163

Control hazardous atmospheres. 164

Maintain register of all hazardous substances used at the workplace. 165

Record monitoring results. 165

Notify Employees. 166

Provide health surveillance. 167

Provide biological monitoring. 168

Provide instruction and training. 169

Provide structured induction training programs. 169

Maintain records and provide information. 171

Inform persons about enclosed hazardous substances. 171

Produce assessment report when required. 171

Maintain health surveillance records. 172

Provide information to emergency services. 172

RESPONSIBILITIES OF EMPLOYEES. 173

part 13 – SYNTHETIC MINERAL FIBRES. 174

INTRODUCTION.. 174

PURPOSE.. 174

SCOPE.. 174

DEFINITIONS. 175

RESPONSIBILITIES OF MANUFACTURERS. 175

RESPONSIBILITIES OF EMPLOYERS. 176

Identify hazards. 176

Assess the risks. 176

Implement risk control measures. 176

Provide facilities for personal hygiene. 177

Control the removal of waste products. 177

Control the removal of SMF products. 178

Personal protective equipment (PPE) 178

RESPONSIBILITIES OF EMPLOYEES. 178

part 14 – VINYL CHLORIDE.. 179

INTRODUCTION.. 179

PURPOSE.. 180

SCOPE.. 180

DEFINITIONS. 180

RESPONSIBILITIES OF EMPLOYERS. 180

Identify hazards. 180

Assess the risks. 181

Implement risk control measures. 181

Control work in confined spaces. 182

Performing maintenance work. 182

Provide personal protective equipment (PPE) 183

Establish a monitoring program.. 183

Provide education and training. 183

Maintain records. 184

RESPONSIBILITIES OF EMPLOYEES. 184

part 15 – CARCINOGENIC SUBSTANCES. 185

INTRODUCTION.. 185

PURPOSE.. 185

SCOPE.. 185

DEFINITIONS. 186

RESPONSIBILITIES OF EMPLOYERS. 186

Identify scheduled carcinogenic substances. 186

Assess the risks. 186

Implement risk control measures. 187

Control the risk. 187

Health surveillance. 187

Maintain records. 187

Notify Comcare. 188

Apply for exemption on use. 188

RESPONSIBILITIES OF EMPLOYEES. 189

part 16 – TIMBER PRESERVATIVES. 190

INTRODUCTION.. 190

PURPOSE.. 190

SCOPE.. 190

definitions. 191

RESPONSIBILITIES OF SUPPLIERS. 191

RESPONSIBILITIES OF EMPLOYERS. 191

Identify hazards. 191

Assess the risks. 191

Implement risk control measures. 191

Implement safety procedures for timber preservatives. 192

Provide personal protective equipment (PPE) 192

Implement procedures for safe storage of treated timber and timber treatment chemicals  193

Implement procedures for safe handling and carriage of treated timber. 194

Implement emergency procedures. 195

Ensure proper disposal 195

Provide education and training. 195

RESPONSIBILITIES OF EMPLOYEES. 195

part 17 – INORGANIC LEAD.. 196

INTRODUCTION.. 196

PURPOSE.. 197

SCOPE.. 197

DEFINITIONS. 197

RESPONSIBILITIES OF EMPLOYERS. 198

Provision of information to new employees. 199

Criteria for exclusion from a lead–risk job. 199

Identify hazards. 199

Assess the risks. 200

Implement risk control measures. 200

Ensure the containment of lead contamination. 201

Ensure appropriate cleaning of the workplace. 201

Implement safe work practices. 201

Establish air monitoring and health surveillance procedures. 202

Provide appropriate amenities for employees. 203

Provide personal protective equipment (PPE) 204

Provide education and training. 204

Maintain accurate records. 204

RESPONSIBILITIES OF EMPLOYEES. 204

part 18 – ETHYLENE OXIDE.. 205

INTRODUCTION.. 205

PURPOSE.. 205

SCOPE.. 206

DEFINITIONS. 206

RESPONSIBILITIES OF DESIGNERS, MANUFACTURERS AND INSTALLERS. 206

Designers and Installers of chambers and cabinets. 206

Designers and Installers of the Cylinder System.. 206

RESPONSIBILITIES OF EMPLOYERS. 207

Identify hazards. 207

Assess the risks. 207

Implement risk control measures. 207

Fumigation/Sterilisation. 207

Establish safety procedures for chamber operation. 208

Establish safe procedures for the Unit Dose Canister System operation. 209

Control the access to work areas. 209

Provide personal protective equipment (PPE) 209

Ensure safe storage of cylinders. 209

Develop emergency procedures. 210

Provide education and training. 210

Maintain records of atmospheric and health monitoring. 210

Establish a Maintenance Program.. 210

Develop a testing regime. 211

RESPONSIBILITIES OF EMPLOYEES. 211

part 19 – ULTRAVIOLET RADIATION IN SUNLIGHT.. 213

INTRODUCTION.. 213

PURPOSE.. 213

SCOPE.. 213

DEFINITIONS. 213

RESPONSIBILITiES OF EMPLOYERS. 214

Identify hazards. 214

Assess the risks. 214

Implement risk control measures. 215

Provide shade. 215

Schedule work to reduce exposure. 215

Move the job indoors or into a shaded area. 215

Provide personal protective equipment (PPE) 215

Provide sunscreen. 216

Provide information, training and supervision. 216

Monitor and review effectiveness of control measures. 216

RESPONSIBILITiES OF EMPLOYEES. 217

part 20 – OCCUPATIONAL DIVING.. 218

INTRODUCTION.. 218

PURPOSE.. 218

SCOPE.. 218

Definitions. 218

RESPONSIBILITIES OF EMPLOYERS. 220

Identify hazards. 220

Assess the risks. 222

Implement general risk control measures. 223

Ensure medical fitness. 223

Ensure technical qualifications. 223

Implement specific risk control measures. 224

Monitor and review control measures. 226

Keep written records. 226

DIVING SUPERVISOR RESPONSIBILITIES. 226

Implement emergency plans. 227

First aid and oxygen provision. 227

Rescue of a diver procedures. 228

Maintain a dive safety log. 228

RESPONSIBILITIES OF EMPLOYEES. 229

part 21 – SPRAY PAINTING.. 231

INTRODUCTION.. 231

PURPOSE.. 231

SCOPE.. 231

DEFINITIONS. 231

MANUFACTURERS OF BOOTHS. 232

SUPPLIERS OF BOOTHS. 232

RESPONSIBILITIES OF EMPLOYERS. 232

Identify hazards. 233

Assess the risks. 233

Implement risk control measures. 234

Use a Spray Booth. 234

Maintaining a spray painting booth. 234

Ensure that spray painting outside spray booths is safe. 235

Ensure electrical safety. 236

Ensure electrical safety when electrostatic spray painting is used. 236

Provide Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) 237

Provide health surveillance. 237

Provide education and training. 237

Maintain records. 237

RESPONSIBILITIES OF EMPLOYEES. 238

part 22 – ABRASIVE BLASTING.. 239

INTRODUCTION.. 239

PURPOSE.. 239

SCOPE.. 239

DEFINITIONS. 239

RESPONSIBILITIES OF EMPLOYERS. 240

Identify hazards. 240

Assess the risks. 241

Implement risk control measures. 241

Select less hazardous abrasive medium.. 241

Adopt a less hazardous surface preparation method. 242

Isolation of the abrasive blasting process. 242

Use administrative controls. 243

Provide personal protective equipment (PPE) 243

Provide air monitoring and health surveillance. 244

Provide amenities. 244

Provide education and training. 244

Maintain records. 244

Control measures for associated hazards and risks. 244

Part 23 – Construction Induction Training.. 246

part 24 – Falls in Construction.. 247

Part 25 – cash in Transit.. 248

introduction.. 248

purpose.. 248

Scope.. 249

definitions. 249

responsibilities of manufacturers, suppliers and installers of atm machines  250

responsibilities of cit users. 250

responsibilities of employers. 250

Identify hazards. 252

Assess the risks. 253

Implement risk control measures. 254

Develop standard operating procedures. 255

Allocate appropriate resources. 255

Provide communication systems. 255

Select appropriate vehicles. 256

Provide personal protective equipment (PPE) 256

Vary the route and time procedures. 257

Provide education and training. 257

Provide supervision. 258

Provide information. 259

Monitor and review.. 259

Implement incident response procedures. 259

Implement post-hold-up procedures. 259

Keep records. 260

responsibilities of employees. 261

 

 

 


INTRODUCTION

THE COMMONWEALTH OCCUPATIONAL HEALTH AND SAFETY LEGISLATIVE FRAMEWORK

 

The Commonwealth Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) legislative framework consists of the Occupational Health and Safety Act 1991 (the Act) and supporting regulations and this Code of Practice.

The Act

The objective of the Act is to secure the health, safety and welfare at work of employees and to protect other persons at or near workplaces from risks to health and safety arising out of the activities of employees at work. The Act defines the general duties and responsibilities of duty holders and provides for specific OHS consultative arrangements and compliance and enforcement matters.

The Regulations

The Occupational Health and Safety (Safety Arrangements) Regulations 1991, (Safety Arrangements Regulations) and the Occupational Health and Safety (Safety Standards) Regulations 1994 (Safety Standards Regulations) set out mandatory obligations on specific matters. These regulations are written in terms of process and/or outcomes that duty holders must follow or achieve to meet their general duties under the Act in relation to these matters.  

Code of Practice

The Act and regulations are supported by this Code of Practice. This Code is a source of practical guidance on safe work practices and risk management in relation to specific hazards and/or hazardous activities. This Code provides guidance to duty holders on standards of health and safety that must be achieved in the workplace in relation to those matters, hazards or hazardous activities.

LEGAL STATUS AND APPLICATION OF THIS CODE OF PRACTICE

This Code aims to ensure that adequate health and safety standards are implemented on specific OHS matters whilst allowing flexibility for a duty holder to incorporate new inventions and technological changes that are most appropriate for their workplace, provided they do not reduce health and safety standards.

This Code does not impose mandatory legal obligations. Civil or criminal proceedings cannot be instituted solely on the grounds that a person failed to comply with this Code. However, this Code is admissible in evidence before a court as proof of the standards of health and safety that should be achieved by duty holders to comply with the relevant provisions of the Act and regulations on specific OHS matters.

If this Code is used as evidence in legal proceedings concerning a breach of the Act or regulations, it reverses the burden of proof to the duty holder. This means that if the duty holder has not followed the guidance provided in this Code, it must prove that the related provisions of the Act or regulations were complied with by other equivalent or better means. If the duty holder fails to do so, the breach is proven.

Duty holders must comply with this Code unless they identify another way of achieving the same or better safety standards than those prescribed in this Code. If the duty holder determines that they can meet or better the safety standards prescribed by this Code by alternative means, it is appropriate and lawful for them to do so. 

An investigator or a health and safety representative may cite this Code as a means of remedy for an alleged breach of the Act or regulations.

CODE TO BE READ IN CONJUnCTION WITH THE ACT AND REGULATIONS

This Code must be read in conjunction with the Act and the regulations.

The Act, regulations and this Code are complementary documents, which set the legal requirements for occupational health and safety in the Commonwealth OHS jurisdiction. The requirements of this Code are designed to operate in conjunction with the mandatory provisions of the Act and regulations.

This Code does not cover all the responsibilities of the duty holders. There may be additional risks at a workplace that have not been specifically addressed in this Code. Under the Act, duty holders are still required to identify and assess these risks and ensure that control measures are implemented.

Definitions in the Act and regulations apply to this Code. Each Part of this Code includes additional definitions that apply to that particular Part.

consultation provisions

One of the objectives of the Act is to foster a cooperative, consultative relationship between employers and employees on the health, safety and welfare of employees at work. This Code should be implemented utilising the consultative framework established under the Act where appropriate. This includes health and safety management arrangements – the contents of which must be consulted upon – as well as consulting with employees and/or their representatives, health and safety representatives and health and safety committees.

 


PART 1 – RISK MANAGEMENT

INTRODUCTION

1.1                   Risk management, in the occupational health and safety context, refers to a systematic process by which management policies, procedures and practices are applied to identify the workplace hazards, assess the risks associated with those hazards, determine the appropriate control measures and monitor and review the risk management process for efficacy in providing a safe and healthy workplace.

1.2                   Workplace injury and disease have a significant impact on the human and financial resources of organisations. An effective risk management strategy can assist employers to meet their statutory obligations and reduce costs, increase productivity, raise staff morale, improve workplace relations and enhance health and safety performance generally.

1.3                   Employers have general duties under the Act to take all reasonably practicable steps to protect the health and safety of their employees. In addition, Part 1 of the Safety Standards Regulations imposes specific requirements on employers in relation to the matters covered by those regulations. These include the identification of all reasonably foreseeable hazards arising from work that may affect the health and safety of employees or others at work, carry out risk assessments and implement risk control measures.

1.4                   Manufacturers and suppliers have duties under the Act to take reasonably practicable steps to ensure that plant and/or substances are designed, constructed and supplied in a way that ensures employees’ safety and there is no risk to their health.

1.5                   Erectors and installers also have a duty to ensure the plant is erected or installed safely and that the process of erection or installation is safe and does not create a risk to the health and safety of employees at the workplace. 

1.6                   This part of the Code must be read in conjunction with the introduction to this Code, including in relation to consultation. 1

PURPOSE

1.7                   The purpose of this Part is to provide practical guidance to employers and other duty holders to assist them to identify hazards, assess the risk and implement risk control measures in the workplace in accordance with the Act and Part 1 of the Safety Standards Regulations.

SCOPE

1.8                   This Part applies to all employers covered by the Act who have duties to manage risks at work.  

1.9                   The requirements set out in Part 1 of the Safety Standards Regulations do not limit the operation of any other regulation that expressly provides for the control of risks to the health or safety of a person at work. That is, where other parts of the Safety Standards Regulations expressly provide for the control of risks in relation to a particular subject matter, employers must comply with those regulations. The parts of the Safety Standards Regulations that set out specific risk control duties are:

·         Part 3: Occupational Noise;

·         Part 4: Plant;

·         Part 5: Manual Handling;

·         Part 6: Hazardous Substances;

·         Part 7: Confined Spaces;

·         Part 8: Storage and Handling of Dangerous Goods;

·         Part 9: Major Hazard Facilities;

·         Part 10: Electricity;

·         Part 11: Driver Fatigue;

·         Part 12: Construction Work; and

·         Part 13: Falls from 2 metres or more.

DEFINITIONS

‘Consequence’ – means outcome or impact of an occurrence.

‘Exposure’ – occurs when a person is exposed to a hazard.

‘Frequency’ – means a measure of the number of occurrences per unit time.

‘Generic risk assessment’ – means a risk assessment, which may be used across areas and job sites because the hazards and risks have been deemed similar.

 ‘Harm’ – is death, injury, illness (including psychological illness) or disease that may be suffered by a person because of a hazard or risk.

‘Hazard’ – means something that can or has the potential to cause injury or illness.

Likelihood’ – describes the probability or frequency of an injury or illness occurring.

 ‘Monitor’ – means to check, supervise, observe critically or measure the progress of an activity, action or system on a regular basis in order to identify change from the performance level required or expected.

‘Probability’ – a measure of the chance of occurrence expressed as a number.

‘Residual risk’ – means the remaining risk after implementation of the risk control measures.

‘Risk’ means the probability or likelihood and consequences of a hazard causing injury or illness.

‘Risk assessment’ – means the overall process of risk analysis and risk evaluation (AS/NZS 3931). It is the process of evaluating the probability and consequences of injury or illness arising from exposure to an identified hazard or hazards.

‘Risk analysis’ – mean the analysis of risk by use of a table or other process which may be qualitative, quantitative or a combination of these methods to assist in the evaluation of a hazard according to the probability or likelihood and consequence of injury or illness. 

‘Risk evaluation’ is the decision making process of the assessed risks to determine which risks require control and control priorities in an organisational context.  

‘Risk control’ – means the process of managing the elimination or minimisation of a risk. This may be an object, work process or system of work.

‘Risk management’ – means the culture, processes and structures that are directed towards promoting health and safety by the management of hazards and risks within an organisation. 

‘Risk management framework’ – means a set of elements in a system which may include strategic planning, decision making, processes, policies and procedures for dealing with the risks. 

‘Risk retention’ – means the loss or benefit remaining from a particular risk.

Responsibilities of manufacturers, suppliers, erectors and installers

1.10               Manufacturers, suppliers, erectors and installers have a general duty to take all reasonably practicable steps to ensure that employees are safe from risks to health and safety arising from the use of plant and machinery at work. In addition to the general duty, manufacturers and suppliers have specific duties in regard to conducting research, testing and examining plant, machinery and substances to assist in the control of identified risks. They must also provide certain information to employers related to the safe use of plant and substances (see sections 18 and 19 of the Act). Manufacturers and suppliers should follow the four (4) step risk management process outlined in paragraphs 1. 11 and 1.12 and apply as appropriate.  

RESPONSIBILITIES OF EMPLOYERS

1.11               Risk management involves the establishment of an appropriate framework and culture for health and safety within an organisation. It is an ongoing systematic method of firstly identifying hazards then analysing, evaluating, treating, monitoring and communicating risks associated with any activity, function or process with the objective of minimising the risk of harm or injury from a hazard.

1.12               To ensure that risks are managed in accordance with the duties under the Act and the specific requirements set out in the Safety Standards Regulations, employers should undertake the following four–step risk management process:

Step 1           identify the hazard;

Step 2           assess the risk associated with the hazard;

Step 3           control the risk; and

Step 4           review the process.

1.13               When undertaking the risk management process, employers should be practical about the ways in which they identify hazards and the potential risks associated with them. They should consider what actually occurs in the workplace as opposed to what may occur in theory.

1.14               Employers should conduct hazard identification and risk assessment from the design and planning phases through to workplace operations where employees use plant, equipment, hazardous substances and dangerous goods.

 

The risk management process

Responsibility to consult

1.15               Communication and consultation is integral to every step of the risk management process. Employers should consult with employees, and/or their representatives or health and safety representatives and health and safety committees where appropriate. Consultation should occur when:

a)              identifying hazards;

b)              assessing the risks;

c)              determining and implementing control measures;

d)              developing policy and procedures;

e)              deciding on the training requirements; and

f)               supervising and monitoring the risk control measures.

Identify hazards

1.16               Employers should identify all reasonably foreseeable hazards arising from work mindful that some hazards may be obvious and readily identifiable while other hazards, such as exposure to noise, chemicals or psychological injury for example, may be less so.

1.17               Employers may classify hazards in a number of ways. For example, some common workplace hazard types can include:

a)             gravitational – this includes, but is not limited to, activities where a person can fall or an object can fall on to a person;

b)             body stressing or impact hazard – activities that cause stress to muscles and/or skeleton including manual handling, occupational overuse and slips, trips or falls on the same level;

c)             mechanical – this includes, but is not limited to, plant, equipment and items that have the potential to cut, tear, rip, abrade, crush, penetrate, produce projectiles or cause sudden impact;

d)            source of energy – this includes, but is not limited to, electricity, heat, cold, noise, radioactive sources and high powered light; 

e)             chemical and biological – this includes, but is not limited to, chemical compounds, acids and poisons, powders, dusts, vapours, bacteria, viruses, mould and mildew from various processes which have the potential to impair health, have adverse effects on human reproduction, cause diseases or may have explosive, flammable, toxic or corrosive properties; and

f)              psychosocial environment – this includes workplace stressors, which arise from a variety or combination of sources, and includes, but is not limited to, bullying and harassment.

1.18               In carrying out hazard identification, the employer should consider the following sources of information:

a)             examination of injury and dangerous occurrence data;

b)             technical and scientific evaluation;

c)             visual inspection of the workplace in a direct way with walk-though inspection of plant and equipment; 

d)            quantitative hazard analysis;

e)             testing and auditing reports from the workplace;

f)              consultation with employees, health and safety representatives and health and safety committee members; and

g)             discussions with designers, manufacturers, suppliers, importers, or any other relevant party who may assist in the identification of a potential hazard or hazardous situation in the workplace.

Assess the risks

1.19               Where employers have identified a hazard, they should ensure that an assessment is made of the risks associated with that hazard.

1.20               Employers should ensure that, as a minimum, a risk assessment is conducted before:

a)             the introduction of any new plant or substances;

b)             the introduction of a new work practice or procedure; and

c)             any change in a workplace, work practice, activity or process where the change may give rise to a health or safety risk.

1.21               The level of risk increases exponentially with the injury or disease causing potential of a hazard. Therefore, risk is the probability and consequence of a hazard causing injury, ill health or disease. A risk assessment is a process for determining the likelihood and severity of an injury or a disease resulting from exposure to that hazard.

1.22               When the hazard has been identified, employers should consider whether there are specific regulations that deal with that hazard. For example, there are regulations which deal specifically with the risk management of occupational noise, plant, manual handling, hazardous substances, electricity, driver fatigue, falls from heights, confined spaces, construction and storage and handling of dangerous goods. In circumstances where there are no governing regulations, the employer should conduct a risk assessment as described in this Part. 

1.23               When conducting a risk assessment an employer should:

a)             gather information about each identified hazard;

b)             consider the number of people exposed, or likely to be exposed to each hazard;

c)             consider the duration of the exposure; and

d)            use the information obtained to assess the likelihood and consequences of exposure to the hazard.

1.24               A hazard may have the potential to cause a range of consequences from minor discomfort to a serious disabling injury, illness or death. When determining the potential consequences of identified hazards, employers should consider:

a)             the nature of the hazard posing the risk;

b)             any combinations of hazards such as heat and manual handling tasks;

c)             the types of injuries or illnesses foreseeable from exposure;

d)            the duration and level of exposure to the hazard; and

e)             the existing control measures in place.

1.25               Once the consequences of a hazard have been determined, employers should assess the likelihood of that hazard causing harm. Factors which may affect the likelihood of an incident occurring are:

a)             how often the hazard has the potential to harm – when the same hazardous task is repeated the more likely an incident will occur, for example, when an employee continuously or frequently carries a load, pushes a trolley or uses a vibrating hand tool;

b)             the number of people exposed to the hazard – the greater the number of people exposed to a hazard, the more likely an incident will occur;

c)             the duration of exposure – the longer a person is exposed to a hazard, the more likely an incident will occur;

d)            the quantities of materials or multiple exposure points involved;

e)             the position of the hazard relative to employees and to other hazards – for example, employees located next to a noisy machine are more likely to suffer hearing related conditions than those working further away, or some stored chemicals such as methylated spirits may only represent a hazard if located near a heat source;

f)              the skills and experience level of persons exposed – an employee with extensive experience may be less likely to make a mistake which results in an incident than one who is new to the role or conversely, a more experienced employee may become complacent;

g)             the special characteristics of persons exposed – for example colour blindness or hearing impairment;

h)             other elements of the work environment such as distractions – for example, construction employees listening to music on their headphones may increase their chances of being hit by vehicles used on the building site;

i)               environmental conditions – there may be conditions which increase the likelihood of an incident occurring such as water in the vicinity of an electrical hazard;

j)               the work organisation, such as rostering and shift arrangements or the pace at which work should be performed;

k)             the introduction of new work processes; and

l)               the effectiveness of existing control measures.

1.26               The likelihood and consequences may be estimated using statistical analysis and numerical calculations. Where no reliable or relevant past data is available, subjective estimates may be made.  

1.27               The identified hazard may require a simple or a complex risk analysis depending on the risk of harm to people in the workplace. The types of risk assessment that may be undertaken will vary with the degree of analysis required. Employers may use, but are not limited to, some of the following:

a)             Qualitative analysis – this type of analysis is descriptive and involves a subjective assessment of the likelihood and consequences of an event occurring. This type of analysis includes:

(i)           evaluation using multi–disciplinary groups;

(ii)         specialist and expert judgement; and

(iii)       structured questionnaires; 

b)             Quantitative analysis – this type of analysis uses a numerical value rather than a descriptive scale for both consequences and likelihood. The way in which consequences and likelihood are expressed and the way they combine provide the level of risk. Methods of analysis include:

(i)           consequence analysis;

(ii)         statistical analysis of historical data;

(iii)       fault tree and event tree analysis;

(iv)       influence diagrams;

(v)         life cycle cost analysis;

(vi)       network analysis;

(vii)     simulation and computer modelling;

(viii)   statistical and numerical analysis;

(ix)       test marketing and market research; and

(x)         probability analysis.

1.28               A simple qualitative form of analysis can be illustrated by means of a risk assessment matrix, see diagram below. Refer to AS/NZS 4360:2004 Risk management and HB 436:2004 Risk management guidelines for detailed
information on risk assessment options.

1.29               The level of risk is determined by the relationship between likelihood and consequence.

Simple qualitative risk assessment matrix

1.30               Likelihood or the chance of each of the events actually occurring can be determined and rated in the following way:

a)             very likely (exposed to hazard constantly);

b)             likely (exposed to hazard occasionally);

c)             unlikely (could happen but only rarely); or

d)            highly unlikely (could happen but probably never will).

1.31               Determining consequences involves making a judgement about the level of harm that can occur because of exposure to the hazard. Consequences can be rated in the following way:

a)             fatality;

b)             major or serious injury (serious damage to health that may be irreversible, requiring medical attention and ongoing treatment). This is likely to involve significant time off work;

c)             minor injury (reversible health damage that may require medical attention but limited ongoing treatment). This is less likely to involve significant time off work. A minor injury is unlikely to involve more than 1 day off work; and

d)            negligible injuries (might sustain slight injury and may require only primary first aid) and no time off work.

1.32               In circumstances where there is uncertainty about the level of risk, inadequate information or uncertainty about the degree of exposure even after having completed a risk assessment, employers should consider the actions listed below:

e)             seek more information – apply good practice to minimise exposure until more information is available;

f)              seek specialist advice if necessary;

g)             conduct surveys, environmental and medical monitoring;

h)             analyse records and data regarding dangerous occurrences, employee complaints, sick leave, unscheduled absences and staff turnover;

i)               examine organisational culture and behaviour as a risk factor; and

j)               assess the competency and training levels.

Implement risk control measures

1.33               Where restrictions on available funds or other resources, or physical practicalities, mean that not all identified controls for hazards can be implemented immediately, employers should determine the most effective control measure for the identified hazard and prioritise the implementation process according to the risk profile of each hazard. Controls for hazards assessed as high risk should be put into operation before those assessed as a medium or low risk.  

1.34               Employers should ensure that any risks to the health and safety of employees, arising from the workplace or any work related activity, are:

a)             eliminated; or

b)             if it is not reasonably practicable to eliminate the risks, then minimise the risk.

1.35               Employers should ensure that the control measures selected:

a)             adequately control exposure to the risk;

b)             do not create a new hazard; and

c)             allow employees and contractors to do their work without undue discomfort or distress.

1.36               Employers should use the hierarchy of control pyramid to determine the most appropriate method with respect to risk control. This approach involves designing out or removing hazards at the source and controlling any residual risks by engineering or organisational means. Employers should start at the top of the hierarchy of control pyramid and work their way down. The hierarchy of control pyramid is structured in the following way:

a)             eliminate the hazard. If this is not possible then;

b)             substitute or modify the hazard. If this is not possible then;

c)             isolate the hazard. If this is not possible then;

d)            use engineering controls to control the hazard at its source. If this is not possible then;

e)             use administrative controls. If this is not possible then;

f)              use personal protective equipment (PPE).

1.37               Employers should first ensure, where reasonably practicable, that any hazards identified are eliminated. Elimination of hazards is the most effective control measure. Elimination prevents factors, such as human error, lack of awareness, stress, fatigue, acting reflexively or giving priority to operational or production demands, from influencing the selection of the most appropriate control measure. Elimination of a hazard might include:

a)             removing trip hazards that clutter corridors;

b)             disposing of unwanted chemicals;

c)             removing hazardous plant or substances;

d)            promptly repairing damaged equipment;

e)             increasing the use of e-mail to reduce excessive photocopying and collation;

f)              ceasing a dangerous work practice; and

g)             ensuring new equipment meets the ergonomic needs of users.

1.38               Elimination of a hazard is best achieved at the design stage of any plant, equipment or process. This is often referred to as ‘safe design’ and is a concept which can be applied across all industries to eliminate hazards at the source. The implementation of safe design practices has a positive impact on health and safety in the workplace. Where no hazard exists, no risk of injury or illness exists.

Substitution controls

1.39               Where elimination of the hazard is not reasonably practicable, employers should minimise the risk using control measures individually or in combination. The hierarchy of controls next advocates substitution as a means of minimising the risk to employees from an identified hazard.  

1.40               Employers should consider substitution of the hazard with something with a lesser risk that still performs the same task in a satisfactory manner. Examples of substitution controls might include:

a)             substitution of a hazardous substance with a less hazardous substance;

b)             substitution of telephone handsets with headsets where there is frequent use of the telephone; and

c)             substitution of a smaller package or container to reduce the risk of manual handling injuries such as back strain.

Isolation controls

1.41               If substitution is not possible, employers should consider isolating the hazard from employees or separating employees from the hazard. This may be achieved by using separate purpose built rooms, barricades or sound barriers. Isolation removes the hazardous process from the main work area. Examples of isolation controls might include:

a)             use of a fume cupboard to isolate and store chemicals; and

b)             use of remote handling equipment for hazardous substances or procedures.

Engineering controls

1.42               Employers should consider engineering controls as the next option on the hierarchy of controls to minimise the risk to an identified hazard. This can include engineering modifications to plant or it may involve a change to systems of work. Examples of engineering controls include the:

a)             modification to plant;

b)             installation of appropriate guarding on machinery; and

c)             use of a ventilation system to remove chemical fumes or dust.

Administrative controls

1.43               If engineering controls do not control the risk or cannot be utilised, employers should apply administrative controls such as safe work practices. Administrative controls should not be the first option to control the risk but can be used if controls higher on the hierarchy of control pyramid cannot be applied or, having been applied, do not adequately control the risk.  

1.44               Employers should use administrative controls to back up or supplement other more effective control measures. It may be necessary to use administrative controls while elimination or minimisation control measures are being evaluated and applied. Examples of administrative controls include the use of procedures and instruction and include:

a)             regular maintenance programs for plant and equipment;

b)             written work procedures for all hazardous tasks and equipment; and

c)             a training, education and supervision program for employees/contractors, which includes preventative maintenance and housekeeping procedures.

Provide personal protective equipment (PPE)

1.45               If the application of administrative controls including safe work practices do not minimise the risk, employers should provide appropriate PPE to employees and/or contractors. PPE should only be used when higher order controls are not practicable or adequately effective. 

1.46               PPE is often used in combination with other control measures as a final barrier between the employee and the hazard. PPE does not control the hazard at the source and relies on behaviour modification and correct use of the equipment to be successful. Where it is used, employers must make available to employees and/or contractors suitable and correctly fitted PPE free of charge. The PPE must be maintained according to the manufacturer’s instructions (Safety Standards Regulations 6.19(4) and (5)).

1.47               Employers should ensure that employees and/or contractors are trained in the correct use and maintenance of the PPE and that supervision is provided to ensure compliance with the training and instruction.

Monitor and review the risk management program

1.48               Employers should ensure that the monitoring and review of the risk management program captures information such as:

a)             whether control measures are being implemented and used correctly;

b)             whether solutions to workplace hazards are achieving the desired results;

c)             whether risk management processes and initiatives are working;

d)            what has been done to control risks and what remains to be done;

e)             whether there are any new problems which have resulted from the introduction of risk control measures; and

f)              whether new risk control measures are required.

1.49               Employers should conduct systematic monitoring and review of the workplace to ensure that no new hazards are introduced. New hazards may arise through:

a)             the use of new technology, equipment or substances;

b)             the introduction of new work practices or procedures;

c)             a change in work environment (new workplace); or

d)            the introduction of new staff with different skills or knowledge levels.

1.50               Ensuring that hazards and risks are effectively controlled requires ongoing monitoring and review to check that control measures are implemented, are working effectively and are maintained. Factors that affect a risk assessment and change the level of risk include the financial and human resource input involved in implementing and maintaining control measures.

1.51               ‘Residual Risk’ is the risk that remains after risk control measures have been implemented. Employers should be aware of the nature and extent of the residual risk. It should be documented and subject to a monitoring and review process.

1.52               Monitoring and review should be cyclical and form part of the risk management process. This requires forward planning with regular evaluation points over a set period to review the hazards, risks and control measures.

1.53               For hazards covered by the Safety Standards Regulations, employers are required to conduct a risk assessment prior to the introduction of plant or substance, and before introducing work procedure and processes, or changing them where the change may affect health or safety. Employers do this for all other hazards. Prior planning should ensure that a risk assessment is part of the procedure when purchasing equipment and materials and is considered as part of the tender specifications for new equipment and services.

Keep records

1.54               The monitoring and review process is also assisted by effective record keeping. Records help to identify hazards and review the effectiveness of risk control measures. Employers should keep records that show:

a)             details of workplace inspections and audits;

b)             methods used to assess risks;

c)             control measures implemented;

d)            reviews of systems of work;

e)             any action that has been taken to address particular hazards;

f)              instruction, education or training provided;

g)             any atmospheric monitoring and health surveillance results; and

h)             the maintenance schedules for plant and equipment.

RESPONSIBILITIES OF EMPLOYEES

1.55               Under section 21 of the Act, employees must cooperate with the employer in relation to any duty or obligation imposed to ensure the workplace is safe and healthy.

1.56               Employees must use PPE in accordance with their training and consistent with the manufacturers safety requirements.

 


 PART 2 – FIRST AID

INTRODUCTION

2.1                   First aid management is an integral part of any workplace as it provides the initial care for those who are injured or become ill whilst performing work activities or tasks. First aid services provide the immediate first aid intervention:

a)             in response to injuries which could result in death or severe disability;

b)             in high-risk locations or when high-risk work is undertaken;

c)             for illnesses due to exposure to environmental conditions, poisons or other
harmful substances;

d)            for existing medical conditions which require immediate assistance (for
example, an allergic reaction); and

e)             for minor injuries (for example, cuts, scrapes, bruises, sprains and strains).

2.2                   The likelihood that first aid will be required for a workplace injury or illness is significant. First aid services prevent the escalation of minor injuries into presentations that are more complex or life threatening events. Examples of injuries, illnesses or events that can occur in the workplace are:

a)             bleeding from wounds or embedded objects;

b)             shock reactions from a crush injury;

c)             head, neck and spinal injuries from falls;

d)            exacerbation of heart related conditions (for example, angina);

e)             fractures, sprains, strains and dislocations from equipment use;

f)              exposure to extremes of hot and cold environments;

g)             burns from hazardous chemicals; and

h)             prior medical conditions that can be symptomatic in the workplace such as epilepsy, asthma and diabetes.

2.3                   Employers should provide first aid that is appropriate to the hazards and risks identified within the organisation.

2.4                   This Part of the Code must be read in conjunction with the introduction to the Code, including in relation to consultation. It should also be read in conjunction with Part 1 Risk Management. 1

PURPOSE

2.5                   This Part provides practical guidance to employers on how to meet their duty of care under the Act. Specifically, it deals with the provision of appropriate first aid services to the employer’s employees as required under subsection 16(5)(c) of the Act.

SCOPE

2.6                   This Part applies to all workplaces covered by the Act and includes all work locations within the control of the employer.

2.7                   This Part is not intended to replace the need for expert medical assistance. Employees should be advised to seek medical assistance for matters that require a diagnosis or medical treatment outside of the scope and training of the first aid officers.

2.8                   Where specific hazards have been identified, the employer may deem it necessary to add to or increase first aid services. This can be achieved by using the risk assessment process detailed in Part 1 of this Code of Practice and in consultation with the health and safety representatives, first aid officers and employees.

2.9                   This Part has been divided into two sections to assist employers. The first section deals with first aid provisions applicable to all workplaces and the second section deals with workplaces where high-risk activities and tasks are performed.

DEFINITIONS

‘Automatic External Defibrillator’ –   refers to a medical device, capable of being used safely by people with minimal first aid experience or training, designed to administer a shock that may restart the heart when there are no detectable signs of life other than a heart rhythm.   

‘Cross infection’means the transmission of disease from infected employees to first aid  officers or the infection of injured employees during the administration of first aid  procedures. Control of infection depends on identifying the mode of spread and interrupting the cycle of infection, replication and spread. Use of disposable, single use equipment in first aid kits and procedures prevents directly inoculating the next injured employee with microbes from the first.

‘Designated person’ – means a person appointed by the employer as the first aid officer.

First Aid Officer’– means a person, appointed as a first aid officer by the employer, who holds a current approved first aid qualification from a nationally accredited course that has been delivered by a Registered Training Organisation.

‘First aid’ – means the initial care of the ill or injured. First aid begins when a first aid officer arrives on the scene of an incident, and continues until the casualty recovers, or medical aid arrives. The first aid officer may be required to remain and assist ((Australian First Aid handbook (St John’s Ambulance 2nd Ed).

 ‘First Aid Service’– means a service for the provision of first aid treatment for persons suffering illness or injury at work.

‘First Aid Provider’–   means a provider of first aid training that is nationally accredited.  

‘Highrisk work’ – means any work that involves a high likelihood of injury or illness for which the consequence of injury is severe. The type of injuries can include – contusions or fractures, gunshot wounds, blast or knife injuries, sunburn, sprains and strains and burns or poisoning from a hazardous substance. High-risk workplaces where high-risk activities are undertaken may include working:

a)             at heights;

b)             in high-risk confined spaces;

c)             where people (custodial) or animals are restrained (laboratories);

d)            where there is s high-risk of workplace violence or traumatic injury;

e)             with plant, equipment and instruments that can cause traumatic injury;

f)              with hazardous substances, biological hazards, explosives and dangerous goods; and

g)             with hazards associated with sources of energy including electricity and radiation.

‘Medical aid’ – means treatment by a doctor, registered nurse or ambulance officer.

 ‘RTO’ (Registered Training Organisation) – A RTO is a Registered Training Organisation deemed competent by a State or Territory authority to deliver nationally recognised training for a particular industry. Training delivered by a RTO results in a qualification that is part of the Australian Qualifications Framework.

RESPONSIBILITIES OF EMPLOYERs

Identify vaccination needs

2.10               Employers should develop guidelines on vaccinations for employees, specifically first aid officers, who may be at risk of contracting a serious infections disease. Please refer to Part 6 paragraphs 6.19- 6.26 for further guidance on vaccination protocols.

Identify workplace groups

2.11               Workplaces differ in size and work type and the groups categories in this Part will assist employers to determine which group applies to them. There are three (3) groups categorised.

 

Group A

a)    any workplace at which 100 or more employees work; or

b)   any high-risk workplace with 25 or more employees.

Group B

a)    any workplace with more than 10, but fewer than 100 employees; or

b)   any high-risk workplace with less than 25 employees.

Group C

 

 

 

a)    workplaces with 10 or less employees. This includes mobile workplaces, aircraft, vehicles and small vessels or mobile plant (does not apply to high–risk work).

 

Provide first aid kits

2.12               Employers should ensure that each workplace has at least one first aid kit that meets the minimum requirements as detailed in paragraph 2.21 unless paragraph 2.17 applies.

2.13               With reference to the three groups detailed in paragraph 2.11 of this Part, employers should provide the following number of first aid kits.

Group A       

a)      any workplace other than a high risk workplace – at least one kit provided for the first 50 employees; 2 kits for 100 and one additional kit for every 100 employees thereafter; or

 

b)      high-risk workplace – at least one kit provided for the first 25 employees and one (1) additional kit for every 50 employees thereafter.

 

Groups B, C

a)      at least one kit is to be provided for employees.

 

2.14               Employers should ensure that where reasonably practicable, first aid kits are left unlocked.

2.15               Employers should ensure that all first aid kits and the contents purchased for the workplace are included on the Australian Register of Therapeutic Goods (ARTG) as administered by the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA).

2.16               Employers should purchase first aid kits that meet, or exceed, the following specifications:

a)             constructed of impervious material that is dustproof and of sufficient size to adequately store the necessary contents;

b)             capable of being sealed and preferably fitted with a carrying handle for ease of movement;

c)             internal storage compartments that will enable items to be easily accessed; and

d)            clearly labelled outside with a white on green sign with the words

          ‘First Aid’ and/or a white cross on a green background.                               

2.17               Employers should consider providing personal protection packs for employees where the work activities and tasks are conducted away from the regular place of work and carrying a first aid kit (refer to paragraph 2.21) is impractical. This can include those employees who perform work duties on foot, bicycles, in open or remote environments and whenever they do not have ready access to a first aid kit.

Note: Vehicles, small vessels, ships and aircraft are considered premises under the Act and are therefore a workplace.

Determine locations for first aid kits

2.18               Employers should locate first aid kits so that:

a)             they are in a prominent and accessible location, with a first aid sign which includes the contact numbers of the first aid officers and emergency services;

b)             they are clearly visible to all employees;

c)             they are close to locations that have been identified as being high risk areas in accordance with any risk assessment;

d)            they are in a place that will take an employee no longer than two minutes to reach (including time required to access secure areas); 

e)             there is a minimum of at least one kit on each alternate level in a multi- storey workplace;

f)              they are immediately accessible in remote areas or areas of specific hazards such as:

(i)            dangerous goods (for example, gas, corrosives, poisons, pesticides, explosives or any other hazardous substance or dangerous goods);

(ii)          machinery and/or equipment (for example, on construction sites, in manufacturing and warehousing buildings); and

(iii)        remote areas where professional medical assistance may be delayed or absent.

Supply contents for first aid kits

2.19               The contents of first aid kits should be single use and disposable to avoid the risk of cross infection to the first aid officer or any other person. Cross infection can occur when contaminated equipment (for example, steel scissors or tweezers) is re-used after contact with an infected person via blood, blood borne products and human waste.  

2.20               Employers should ensure that first aid kits do not contain analgesics and antiinflammatories. Analgesics and antiinflammatories are a medical treatments that can mask symptoms, influence diagnosis and should not form part of the first aid procedures in accordance with best practice guidelines for first aid officers.

2.21               Employers should adopt the following list as the minimum requirement for any first aid kit. It should be noted that this list does not exclude the addition of other first aid items deemed necessary for high-risk workplaces or remote environments.

 

 

Description

Group A

( Qty / Kit)

Group B

( Qty / Kit)

Group C

( Qty / Kit)

Personal Kit

Dressing Strips – Plastic (50)

2

1

1

1 (25)

Antiseptic – Swabs

20

10

10

2

Gloves Latex – Large (pair)

3

2

1

1

Dressing tape (hypoallergenic) 25mm

1

1

1

1

Amputation Bag Set in Envelope

1

1

1

NA

Bandage Conforming 5cm

2

1

1

NA

Bandage Crepe 10cm

2

1

1

1

Triangular Bandage

6

2

1

1

Dressing Wound – No. 142P

2

1

1

1

Dressing Wound – No. 13P

2

1

NA

NA

Eye pad – Sterile Single

3

1

1

1

Non Adherent Dressing 7.5 x 7.5cm

2

2

1

1

Emergency Blanket (space)

1

1

1

NA

Scissors – disposable

1

1

1

NA

Splinter probes – disposable sterile

10

5

5

1

Description

Continued

Group A

( Qty / Kit)

Group B

( Qty / Kit)

Group C

( Qty / Kit)

Personal Kit

Sodium Chloride 30ml

6

3

3

N/A

First Aid Pamphlet Insert

1

1

1

1

Resuscitation Face Shield / Mask (disposable)

1

1

1

1

First Aid Manual

1

1

NA

NA

Minimum requirements for first aid kits

 

 

Determine the need for additional first aid equipment or supplies

2.22               Additional first aid equipment (for example, Oxygen or an Automatic External Defibrillator (AED)) may be used in any workplace where:

a)             a specific hazard exists that requires the equipment; 

b)             a need is identified from a risk assessment because of the location or type of work; or

c)             a requirement for additional first aid equipment is determined in consultation with first aid officers, employees and/or their representatives.

2.23               When employers elect to have an AED in the workplace they should ensure that:

a)            the AED is located in a clearly visible location (for example, a main reception or foyer area);

b)            the AED is accessible to all employees and other persons within the workplace;

c)            there is clear signage in the workplace which identifies the location of the AED; and

d)           regular maintenance inspection procedures are established to ensure that the AED is operational and the pads are not out of date.

2.24               When employers elect to have oxygen units in the workplace they should ensure that:

e)            the oxygen unit and oxygen cylinders are located in a secure and safe storage area that is accessible to first aid officers who are trained by a first aid provider to use the oxygen equipment; and

f)             regular maintenance inspection procedures are established that will ensure the unit is operational at all times. 

2.25               Employers should provide additional training, as determined by a first aid provider, to first aid officers in the use of any first aid equipment that is provided by the employer.

2.26               Some examples of commonly needed additional contents for first aid kit include eye, burns and remote workplace modules. These additional modules may include:

a)             for eye injuries – additional quantities of sterile eye wash ampoules, eye pads and adhesive tape 1.25cm;

b)             for burns – additional non-stick or low adherent dressings in a variety of sizes and extra sterile saline solution; and

c)             for remote areas – additional quantities of sterile eye wash ampoules, sterile eye pads, adhesive tape 1.25cm, spray or wipe itch relief solution and sunscreen protection (minimum 30+ is recommended).

Undertake maintenance and replenishment of first aid kits

2.27               An employer should organise for the re-supply and maintenance of all kits and equipment that have been supplied for use by first aid officers and employees.

2.28               An employer should ensure that any items used from the first aid kits are replaced at the earliest opportunity.

2.29               The employer should delegate responsibility within each workplace for the checking and restocking of first aid kits. Alternatively, arrangements for on–site restocking of first aid kits can be made using a reputable first aid provider. 

Note: Where an employer uses the services of a first aid provider to restock kits, they should check that the items being added are in accordance with the provisions detailed in paragraphs 2.19, 2.20 and 2.21 of this Part.

Allocate first aid officers

2.30               Employers should ensure that there are first aid officers in each workplace group as defined in paragraph 2.11. The number of first aid officers should be according to the following:

a)             in workplace groups A and B with no specific hazards or high–level risks, the minimum requirements are:

(i)            one first aid officer for 25 to 50 employees inclusive;

(ii)          two first aid officers for 51 to 100 employees;

(iii)        an additional first aid officer for every additional 100 employees.

b)             in workplace groups A and B where specific hazards exist or high–level risks are identified, the minimum requirements are:

(i)            one first aid officer for up to 25 employees;

(ii)          two first aid officers for 25 to 50 employees;

(iii)        an additional first aid officer for every additional 50 employees.

a)            in workplace group A with less than 25 and group C with no specific hazards or high-level risks, a risk assessment may identify the need to provide a first aid officer.

2.31               The risk assessment undertaken for paragraph 2.30(c) workplaces should take into account factors that include:

a)             the size and layout of the workplace;

b)             access to trained first aid officers or other first aid services (first aid officers for shopping malls);

c)             the location of the workplace and the distance to the nearest available ambulance or medical services;

d)            the number and distribution of employees including shift work arrangements and the isolation of employees whilst at work;

e)             the nature and specific hazards and risks of the work being performed; and

f)              any previous occurrences of accidents (including any injuries) in the workplace.

2.32               Employers should conduct a risk assessment to identify the need to increase the number of first aid officers in any a workplace.

2.33               Employers should ensure that any decision to determine and alter the number of first aid officers is undertaken in consultation with employees and/or their representatives, the health and safety representatives or health and safety committees.  

Provide training for first aid officers

2.34               Employers should ensure that all designated first aid officers hold current first aid qualification from a recognised RTO.

2.35               Employers should ensure that they use an accredited RTO that can provide a nationally recognised certificate. Employers can choose to set up their own in-house training courses using accredited first aid trainers or contract out their first aid training.

2.36               Employers should ensure that all training for first aid officers is undertaken in accordance with the recommended minimum training levels as follows: 

a)             First Aid Officer

(i)           Workplace Level II First Aid qualification; or

(ii)         Senior First Aid (or equivalent);

b)             Person in Control of a First Aid Room

(i)           Suitably qualified and trained person, for example, First Aid Officer, Occupational First Aid qualification (or equivalent) or Registered Nurse.

2.37               Employers should ensure that the qualifications of the trainer and the resources used to undertake the training of first aid officers is appropriate to the needs of the workplace.

Provide and maintain first aid rooms where required

2.38               Employers should provide a first aid room:

a)             for Group A workplaces with more than 200 employees; or

b)             where the workplace is considered high-risk and has more than 25   employees.

2.39               Each first aid room and the equipment is the responsibility of at least one (1) employer designated first aid officer. This officer should be suitably qualified and trained (refer to paragraph 2.36).  

2.40               When an employer provides a first aid room, they should ensure that it is available at all times for any ill or injured employee. However, it may be used for other situations, for example:

a)             breast-feeding mothers; or

b)             short-term rest room (where employees are not in need of first aid but require a short-term rest).

2.41               A first aid room should not be used as a childcare area, for children who are ill, a workplace or a storage room other than for first aid supplies and first aid equipment.

2.42               Employers should ensure that a first aid room:

a)             is suitably located and accessible;

b)             has convenient access for transport of ill or injured employees;

c)             is well lit;

d)            is well ventilated;

e)             has access to toilet and hand washing facilities;

f)              is of sufficient size to allow for easy movement within the room and allow for stretcher access by ambulance/medical services; and

g)             has an entrance that is clearly marked ‘FIRST AID’.

2.43               Employers should provide the following items for a first aid room:

a)             first aid kit; 

b)             sink or wash basin with hot and cold running water;

c)             approved hand washing solution in a pump pack dispenser along with disposable paper towelling;

d)            work bench and/or a dressing trolley;

e)             lockable cupboard;

f)              sufficient storage for clean dressings, utensils and linen;

g)             ‘contaminated waste’ bags with appropriate holder;

h)             bed, couch or stretcher, blankets, sheets and pillowcases;

i)               table or desk;

j)               telephone and/or emergency call system; and

k)             an injury register and/or a casualty report form.

Develop and implement a first aid policy

2.44               Employers should develop and implement a first aid policy to ensure that employees have a clear understanding of first aid arrangements within their workplace. This policy should form part of the Health and Safety Management Arrangements (HSMA). A first aid policy could include items such as:

a)             the numbers of first aid officers and their distribution;

b)             arrangements for any initial and ongoing training of first aid officers;

c)             the role of the first aid officers in any emergency plans including the wearing of any safety clothing and personal protective equipment (for example, reflective vests for visibility or hard hats for construction sites);

d)            arrangements for transportation to a hospital if required and the responsible person for payment of that transport in the event of any injury or illness whilst at work;

e)             the basic responsibilities of first aid officers including:

(i)            familiarization with the location and responsibilities associated with the first aid kits in their workplace;

(ii)          the proper use of the first aid kits that are provided;

(iii)        the appropriate response to requests for first aid assistance in their workplace;

(iv)        the rendering of first aid assistance in their workplace to employees and other persons within the level of training and the scope of responsibilities of the position;

(v)          the documentation process for all situations where first aid has been administered;

(vi)        where appropriate, the arrangements for ambulance or additional medical assistance;

(vii)      the maintenance, stocking and cleaning of first aid kits when alternative arrangements are not made by the employer; and

f)              informing employees within their workplace of the location and use of first aid kits and first aid rooms.

2.45               Employers should ensure that a first aid policy details the need for first aid officers to advise an employee to seek medical attention or arrange for transportation to a medical facility when the first aider is unsure of the nature or extent of the injury or illness.

2.46               A first aid policy should detail the process for transportation by ambulance or a vehicle with an attendant who is not the driver. Employers should transport casualties by ambulance when:

a)             the injury or illness is serious or life threatening;

b)             the employee may lose or has lost consciousness; 

c)             the injury or illness is unable to be determined; or

d)            the employee’s condition is likely to become worse whilst being transported to a medical facility.

Provide information to employees on first aid procedures

2.47               Employers should provide employees with information on:

a)             the nature and location of first aid facilities in their workplace;

b)             the names, work locations and phone numbers of their first aid officers; and

c)             the procedures to be followed when first aid is required for example, first contact in the event of a first aid situation.

Note: First aid contact -This should be the first aid officer or, in their absence, his/her immediate supervisor.

2.48               Employers should ensure that all employees are provided with information on current first aid procedures when:

a)             an employee first commences with an organisation as a part of the induction process;

b)             there is significant change in the personnel, the workplace, the nature or type of duties performed; and

c)             there are specific hazards or high–risk work practices in the workplace. 

Retain records on first aid incidents

2.49               Records of any injuries or illnesses requiring first aid management should be retained by the employer and using a secure storage facility to ensure confidentiality.

2.50               Employers should ensure that all records relating to first aid incidents are kept confidential and are retained for a minimum period of seven years.

EMPLOYERS IN CONTROL OF HIGH–RISK WORK

Identify hazards in high–risk workplaces

2.51               Employers should identify any high-risk activities, locations or environmental conditions that may pose a serious risk to employees to determine if additional first aid services or equipment is required.  

2.52               The identification of hazards for high-risk work should be done in consultation with employees, health and safety representatives and first aid officers.

Assess the risks

2.53               When assessing the risks relating to high–risk work employers should follow the process outlined in Part 1 of this Code of Practice. Employers should consider the following issues when determining the likelihood and consequences associated with the identified hazards: 

a)             access to the workplace including security controlled or limited access workplaces;

b)             the type and level of risk associated with the work being carried out;

c)             known occurrences of incidents or accidents;

d)            size and layout of the workplace;

e)             location of the workplace;

f)              number and distribution of employees including arrangements such as shift work, overtime, flexible hours and multiple work locations; and

g)             distance to the nearest available and appropriate medical service, occupational health service or ambulance service.

2.54               In high-risk workplaces and remote locations, additional equipment such as oxygen and/or an AED may be required. This should be based on the risk assessment performed. When determining the training and equipment requirement, an employer should consider:

a)             the distance from ambulance services and the expected call out times;

b)             the type of high–risk work being undertaken;

c)             the risk of injury or death; and

d)            the availability of other medical support.

 

Provide additional first aid arrangements for high-risk work

2.55               Based on the results of any risk assessments, employers should decide whether additional arrangements for the provision of first aid services are necessary. Employers may also benefit by consulting with a first aid specialist or an RTO to determine what services or equipment may be suitable.

2.56               Additional provisions for first aid services may include:

a)             adding to the minimum content requirements of first aid kits;

b)             additional equipment, for example, Oxygen and/or AED’s (taking into consideration the guidance detailed in paragraphs 2.22-2.24 of this Part);

c)             increasing the number of first aid kits in the workplace;

d)            the provision of a first aid room where the number of employees is less than 25;

e)             the provision for suitable means of communication in the workplace or whilst employees are at work (for example, mobile phones and two-way radio transmitters); 

f)              the provision of suitable methods and additional equipment when there is a need to move the ill or injured (for example, a wheelchair or a portable stretcher);

g)             additional training for first aid officers where it has been identified on a risk assessment (for example, advanced first aid, advanced resuscitation or occupational first aid training);

h)             increasing the number of first aid officers; or

i)               adding additional equipment to first aid rooms.

2.57               When a workplace stores or uses chemicals, hazardous substances and/or dangerous goods, specialised first aid arrangements should be provided according to the directions on the relevant Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS). Facilities may need to include emergency showers, eyewash stations and when required, poison antidotes.

2.58               If the workplace is a remote location, employers should consider remote area training for the First Aid Officer and the provision of remote area first aid kits.

RESPONSIBILITiES OF EMPLOYEES

2.59               Employees should report any injury or illness that occurs at work to their first aid officer or, in their absence, the employee’s immediate supervisor.

2.60               Employees should follow all workplace procedures and directions with regard to first aid provisions. Specifically employees should:

a)             use first aid kits in accordance with the first aid policies and procedures;

b)             notify the employer designated first aid officer before using any first aid room;

c)             report any incidents that have resulted in an illness, injury or dangerous occurrence to the employer as soon as is practicable; and

d)            attend any training and information sessions concerning first aid procedures and induction familiarisation.


PART 3 – NOISE

INTRODUCTION

3.1                   Occupational noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL) is a major health risk for employees in the workplace. The condition is irreversible and can lead to the degradation of a person’s quality of life due to communication difficulties. Inability to communicate can also be a factor in interpersonal relationship problems and cause social isolation.

3.2                   Hearing aids may improve the ability to hear but the damage to the hearing organs cannot be fully restored. Of those people affected with NIHL, 20 per cent or more also suffer from tinnitus (ringing in the ears) which is debilitating in itself and can contribute to other serious conditions such as Depression.

3.3                   Exposure to excessive noise can also result in largely unrecognised costs to organisations by way of increased employee turnover, absenteeism and lowered performance and may be a factor in other, not directly related, accidents. Apart from the substantial economic cost to organisations, hearing loss can affect the health care and social services systems and the Australian economy as a whole.

3.4                   For the purposes of the Safety Standards Regulations the exposure standard for noise in the occupational environment is an eighthour equivalent continuous A–weighted sound pressure level,‘LAeq,8h, of 85 dB(A). For peak noise, the exposure standard is a C-weighted peak sound pressure level, ‘LC, peak’, of 140dB(C). The exposure to noise is measured at the employee’s ear position without taking into account any hearing protection.

3.5                   Over long periods, repeated exposure to noise between 75 and 85dB (A) maybe a small risk to some people. With progressively increasing levels, the risk becomes greater. Workplace noise levels lower than the national standard is therefore desirable, if practicable.

3.6                   This Part of the Code must be read in conjunction with the introduction to the Code, including in relation to consultation. It should also be read in conjunction with Part 1 Risk Management. 1

PURPOSE

3.7                   This Part aims to provide practical guidance to duty holders on how to meet their duty of care under the Act and Part 3 Noise of the Safety Standards Regulations.

SCOPE

3.8                   This Part aims to provide guidance on noise management for employers in all workplaces covered by the Act. It provides guidance in addition to that provided in Part 3 Noise of the Safety Standards Regulations.

3.9                   This Part should be read in conjunction with Part 5 Vibration of this Code of Practice as exposure to vibration caused by machinery can also combine with noise to increase the risk of hearing loss.

DEFINITIONS

‘Administrative noise control’as defined in 3.02 of the Safety Standards Regulations.

‘Aweighting’ – refers to a standardised frequency response used in sound measuring instruments as specified in IEC 61672.1:2004 Electroacoustics – Sound level meters – Specifications.

‘C-weighting’ – refers to a standardised frequency response used in sound measuring instruments as specified in AS IEC 61672.1:2004 Electroacoustics – Sound level meters – Specifications.

 ‘Daily noise exposure level’– see definition for ‘LAeq, 8h’.

‘dB’– means the abbreviation for decibel.

‘dB (A’) – means A–weighted sound pressure level in decibels. See definition for A–weighting.

‘dB(C)’ means C–weighted sound pressure level in decibels. See definition for C–weighting.

‘Decibel’ – is the unit used to indicate the relative magnitude of sound pressure level and other acoustical quantities. The range of sound pressures commonly encountered is very large so a logarithmic scale is used. The decibel is the unit used on this scale and is abbreviated to dB. On the decibel scale, the threshold of hearing occurs at a sound pressure level of about 0dB and the threshold of pain occurs in the 110dB to 130dB range. As the decibel is also used to describe the level of other quantities, such as sound power and vibration acceleration, it is always necessary to refer to the specific quantity being measured, for example, LAeq,8h or LC, peak.

‘Engineering noise control’– as defined in 3.02 of the Safety Standards Regulations.

‘Exposure standard’ – means the maximum level for noise exposure in the workplace as set out in 3.03(1) of the Safety Standards Regulations.

‘Hearing protector areas’– means areas where persons may be exposed to excessive noise. During normal operations, no person should enter such an area without wearing appropriate personal hearing protectors. Hearing protector areas should be clearly defined and sign–posted according to AS 1319:1994 Safety signs for the occupational environment.

‘LAeq,8h – eight-hour equivalent continuous A–weighted sound pressure level in dB(A) referenced to 20 micro Pascals means that steady noise level which would, in the course of an eight–hour period, cause the same A–weighted sound energy as that due to the actual noise over an actual working day. This is determined in accordance with AS/NZS 1269.1:2005 – Occupational noise management – Measurement and assessment of noise immission and exposure.

‘LC, peak– peak noise level means C–weighted peak sound pressure level in decibels (dB(C)) referenced to 20 micro Pascals determined in accordance with AS/NZS 1269.1:2005 – Occupational noise management – Measurement and assessment of noise immission and exposure.

‘Noise assessment’ – as defined in 3.02 of the Safety Standards Regulations.

‘Noise emission’– is defined in AS/NZS 1269.0:2005 Occupational noise management Overview as the sound radiated into the environment or to a defined position from a defined source such as a machine or equipment.

‘Noise immission’ – Describes the influx of sound at a particular location from all sources such as machines, equipment, activities and the environment.

‘Occupational noiseinduced hearing loss (NIHL)’– means hearing impairment arising from exposure to excessive noise at work. Occupational noise induced hearing loss is also commonly known as industrial deafness.

‘Personal hearing protector program’ – means a program for personal hearing protection and, when required, regular hearing testing, which is adopted when technical or economic problems delay, or make impracticable, the reduction of exposure to excessive noise by engineering or administrative noise control measures.

‘Personal hearing protectors’ – mean a device, or pair of devices, worn by a person or inserted in the ears of a person to protect that person's hearing.

‘Plant’– as defined in section 5 of the Act.

‘Relevant plant’ – as defined in 3.02 of the Safety Standards Regulations.

‘SLC80 rating’ – The SLC80 rating of a hearing protector, is derived from a test procedure as outlined in the AS/NZS 1270:2002 – Acoustics – hearing protectors.  It is a numerical guide to the level of noise attenuation that can be expected from a particular hearing protector device (HPD).

‘Table of noise exposure levels and exposure times equal to a LAeq, 8h of 85dB (A)’below shows the exposure time for noise levels of 85 dB (A) and greater. The measurement of decibels is logarithmic; an increase of 3dB requires a halving of the exposure period to give the same noise energy.

 

Noise level measured in dB(A)

Exposure time

85

8 hrs

88

4 hrs

91

2 hrs

94

1 hr

97

30 mins

100

15 mins

103

7.5 mins

106

3.8 mins

109

1.9 mins

112

57 secs

115

28.5 secs

Noise level measured in dB(A)

Exposure time

118

14.3 secs

121

7.1 secs

124

3.6 secs

127

1.8 secs

130

0.9 secs

 

‘Tinnitus’ means ringing in the ears.

RESPONSIBILITIES OF MANUFACTURERS, SUPPLIERS AND INSTALLERS

Design and construct plant with safe noise levels

3.10               Manufacturers, suppliers and installers of relevant plant must comply with Part 3 Noise of the Safety Standards Regulations. 

Note: refer to the ‘AS/NZS 1269.1:2005 – Occupational noise management – Measurement and assessment of noise immission and exposure’ for further information on noise exposure.

3.11               Manufacturers and suppliers should conduct research, design, development and construction of plant with the intention of minimising noise emission. Manufacturers and suppliers should consider:

a)             the goals for noise reduction and the noise control policies of employers;

b)             budgets that will allow for effective noise controls;

c)             the effect on overall noise levels of building reverberation, the possible building layout and location of workstations relative to the plant;

d)            the transmission of noise through structures and ducts; and

e)             ways to reduce noise emissions in plant rooms and control rooms where appropriate.  

3.12               When deciding whether plant is likely to create noise, manufacturers and suppliers should consider the range of uses, the available information on the conditions under which it is likely to be used and the foreseeable methods of use.

3.13               Manufacturers should:

a)             give employers access to results of noise emission measurements; and

b)             provide information on the means of installation, maintenance and use of plant that will enable it to generate the lowest possible noise levels.

3.14               Suppliers and installers should ensure that adequate information is available to employers prior to supply of the plant. The information should include:

a)             the results of noise emission measurements; and

b)             the procedures for achieving the lowest possible noise emission level during the installation, maintenance and operation of the plant. 

 

RESPONSIBILITIES OF EMPLOYERS

Identify hazards

3.15               Employers must comply with Part 3 Noise of the Safety Standards Regulations and should read the National Code of Practice for Noise Management and Protection of Hearing at Work [NOHSC: 2009 (2004)] on which this Code is based, and AS/NZS 1269.1:2005 Occupational noise management – Measurement and assessment of noise imission and exposure.

3.16               When identifying noise hazards employers should consider:

a)             Part 1 Risk Management of this Code of Practice; and

b)             the potential for noise exposure including:

(i)                 multiple sources of noise exposure;

(ii)               frequency;

(iii)             duration of exposure; and

(iv)             proximity of employees and contractors to the source of the noise.

3.17               When identifying noise hazards, employers should consult with those who understand the work processes as well as affected employees, contractors and/or their representatives or the health and safety representatives. It is recommended that employers engage a noise specialist if unsure of the noise levels.

Note: Subjective inspection or acoustical measurement of an identified noise hazard can determine how and where the noise is generated. It is recommended that employers engage a noise specialist if unsure of the noise level.

3.18               A walkthrough inspection of the workplace should identify noise emitting processes and tasks. Employers should source further information from plant manufacturers and suppliers if required.

Note: As an informal guide, when a raised voice is needed to communicate with someone one metre away, a workplace noise assessment should be considered.  

Assess the risks

3.19               When the noise exposures of employees or contractors have been identified as likely to exceed the exposure standard, the employer must arrange for a noise assessment and a subsequent noise assessment in 5 years (Safety Standards Regulation 3.07).

3.20               If there is a change in the practices or administration after a noise assessment has been carried out and the employees or contractors may be exposed to a significant increase in the noise level because of the change, then the employer must revise the noise assessment or arrange for new noise assessment.

3.21               Employers should ensure that people who have the appropriate qualifications and experience carry out noise assessments.

3.22               Employers should consult with employees to determine the requirement for a noise assessment and time intervals between noise assessments.

3.23               Employers should carry out noise assessments whenever there is:

a)             installation, modification or removal of machinery that is likely to cause a significant change in noise levels;

b)             a change in workload or equipment operating conditions likely to cause a significant change in noise levels;

c)             a change in building structure likely to affect noise levels; or

d)            modification of work arrangements affecting the length of time employees would spend in noisy workplaces.

3.24               In workplaces where exposure is marginally below the exposure standard, employers should arrange for a noise re–assessment whenever there are changes that may increase exposure.

Implement risk control measures

3.25               Employers must not expose employees and contractors to noise, at or near the place of work, from plant or systems of work that exceeds the noise exposure standard (Safety Standards Regulation 3.08).

3.26               Employers should consider information on noise levels prior to purchasing plant and machinery, when determining the production methods and before implementing work systems and processes.

3.27               Employers should implement controls, which reduce the source of the noise by replacing the machine, or its operation, with a quieter machine or operation with equal or better efficiency.   

3.28               Employers should prioritise the implementation of control measures according to the risk profile by controlling the noise sources that expose employees and others to peak noise levels above the exposure standard as well as those noise sources that produce the highest exposures affecting the largest number of people.

3.29               If the employees or contractors are exposed to noise levels above the exposure standard, employers must firstly implement engineering noise controls, then administrative controls and where these are not fully effective provide appropriate hearing protectors (Refer to paragraph 3.58 of this Part for further information on hearing protectors) and (Safety Standards Regulation 3.08).

Use engineering controls

3.30               Engineering treatment of the source is the preferred method of controlling noise in the workplace. Since all noise–emitting objects generate airborne energy (noise) and structure–borne energy (vibrations), the treatment of these noise problems may require modification, partial redesign or replacement of the noise–emitting object. Employers should consider:

a)             engineering treatment of the source; and

b)             engineering treatment of the noise transmission path, which can include enclosure of the operator.

3.31               When implementing engineering noise control measures with treatment at the source, employers should consider solutions such as:

a)             replacing the noisy machinery by installing newer equipment designed to operate at lower noise levels. The power sources and the transmission paths of the machinery should be designed to give quiet speed regulation (for example, use of stepless electric motors). A vibration source can be isolated and treated within the machine. Cover panels and inspection hatches on machines should be stiff and well damped. Cooling fins can be designed to reduce the need for forced airflow and hence fan noise;

b)             correcting the specific noise source by minor design changes (for example, avoid metal-to-metal contact by using plastic bumpers, replacing noisy drives with quieter types and using improved gears);

c)             providing a high standard of plant and equipment maintenance to reduce noise levels to as low as practicable. Worn bearings and gears, poor lubrication, loose parts, slapping belts, unbalanced rotating parts, steam and air leaks all create noise which can be reduced by good maintenance; 

d)            correcting the specific machine elements causing the noise rather than considering the entire machine as a noise source (for example, consider adding noise barriers, noise enclosures, vibration isolation mountings, lagging to dampen vibrating surfaces, mufflers or silencers for air and gas flows and reducing the air velocity of free jets);

e)             separating the noisy elements which need not be an integral part of the basic machine (for example, move pumps, fans and air compressors that service the basic machine away from employees); and 

f)              isolating vibrating machine parts to reduce noise from vibrating panels or guards.  

3.32               In addition to engineering changes to machinery and parts, employers can modify processes to reduce noise. Modification of processes can include some inherently quieter alternatives such as:

a)             mechanical pressing rather than drop forging;

b)             avoiding or reducing metal-to-metal impact; and

c)             suppressing vibration of the materials against the machinery surfaces during processing. This is achieved by selecting materials that are less likely to vibrate, by reducing stiffness and damping surfaces or by careful dynamic balancing.

3.33               Employers should consider modifying material handling processes to ensure that impact and shock during handling and transport are minimised as far as possible. This may be achieved by:

a)             minimising the fall height onto hard surfaces of items collected by tables and containers;

b)             fixing damping materials or stiffening, tables, walls, panels or containers where they are struck by materials or items during processing;

c)             absorbing shocks through the provision of wear resistant rubber or plastic coatings;

d)            using conveyer belts rather than rollers which are more likely to rattle; and

e)             controlling the speed of processes to match the desired production rates. This provides a much smoother workflow and there is less likelihood of noise generation due to stop–start impact noise.

3.34               Employers should consider engineering treatment of the noise transmission path between the source and the employees if treatment at the source of the noise emission is not adequate. Employers should use the noise transmission path principles in the following way:

a)             isolating the noise sources by fully enclosing the machine(s) or placing them in a room or building away from the largest number of employees;

b)             separating the noisy area by a sound–reducing partition;

c)             acoustically treating the area to reduce noise by using sound–absorbing material on floors, ceiling and walls; and

d)            using acoustical silencers in intake and exhaust systems associated with gaseous flow activity.

Use administrative controls

3.35               Where it is not practicable to comply with the exposure standard for noise solely through engineering noise control measures, employers must implement administrative noise control measures according to Step Two of the Safety Standards Regulation 3.08(3).

3.36               Whenever practicable, the level of noise exposure should be reduced to or below the exposure standard. If the exposure standard level cannot be achieved, the employer should establish procedures and processes to ensure that there is a reduction in noise levels.  

3.37               Employers should establish work practices to ensure regular inspection and maintenance of engineering controls such as vibration mountings, impact absorbers, gaskets, seals, silencers, barriers, absorptive materials and other equipment used to control noise.

3.38               If administrative controls are used, employers should have a regular checking and monitoring program in place to ensure that the administrative controls are implemented as intended and applied correctly. 

3.39               When reducing noise exposure by administrative noise control measures employers should consider the following changes to work arrangements:

a)             organising schedules so that noisy work is done when as few people as possible are present;

b)             the observance of quiet work practices;

c)             notifying people in advance when noisy work is to be carried out so they can limit their exposure to it;

d)            limiting the entry of persons to noisy work areas;

e)             sign–posting noisy areas;

f)              providing quiet rest areas for food and rest breaks; and

g)             limiting the time employees spend in noisy areas by moving them to quiet work before their daily noise exposure levels become excessive.

Develop a noise control policy and program of action

3.40               The employer should develop in conjunction with employees and/or health and safety representatives and health and safety committees, a written noise control policy and program of action when excessive noise exists. The aim should be to minimise the generation of noise emission from plant and/or processes and limit exposure to peak and daily noise levels.

3.41               Copies of the policy and program of action should be available as part of the dissemination of information in general and through induction and training courses to all employees, contractors and/or their representatives or health and safety representatives. The information should be provided in the appropriate language so that access to information is provided to all persons. This policy should be reviewed at regular intervals and updated as necessary. 

3.42               Employers should consider the following in the noise control policy:

a)             goals for minimising daily exposure levels and peak noise levels in existing work areas;

b)             the design objectives for new work areas (both for the building and plant);

c)             selection, acquisition and purchase of quiet plant;

d)            noise controls to be used in temporary work areas and situations;

e)             agreements with contractors in terms of responsibilities for noise control and provision of information on noisy processes;

f)              funding for the noise control program;

g)             regular review of the noise control programs;

h)             audiometric testing when required; and

i)               the process for access to any audiometric records to the employees and contractors who were the subject of the tests.

3.43               Employers should implement the steps in the noise management program in the agreed timeframes. Employers should include the following steps:

a)             assign a member of management to have overall responsibility for implementing and monitoring the program;

b)             conduct a preliminary noise hazard identification check to determine whether problems with exposure to noise are likely to exist;

c)             decide if the noise source can be eliminated;

d)            decide the type and detail of the noise assessments, the time interval between assessments and the persons responsible;

e)             develop a program for the selection of new or replacement plant so as to minimise exposure to noise;

f)              decide whether or not engineering noise control measures are practicable and the priorities to be given to different noisy situations;

g)             decide on suitable administrative noise control measures such as scheduling of work, job rotation, limiting the entry of persons to work areas and observance of quiet work practices;

h)             select, provide and maintain suitable personal hearing protectors;

i)               identify, with the use of appropriate signs, hearing protector areas;

j)               provide on–going training to employees;

k)             provide audiometric testing where employees are exposed to excessive noise;

l)               develop monitoring procedures that should include the following:

(i)            check that measures used to control noise levels, such as silencers or enclosures, are maintained in good order and in position during the operation of noisy machines;

(ii)          check, when it is necessary, the noise level to ensure that hidden defects are not causing exposure to increased noise levels;

(iii)        monitor the use of personal hearing protectors;

(iv)        check that personal hearing protectors are maintained in good condition;

(v)          maintain relevant records and make them available to all employees and/or their representatives and health and safety representatives on request. The records should be kept in a form easily understood by those likely to be exposed; and

(vi)        provide for periodic management review of the effectiveness of the noise control policy and noise management program.

Provide audiometric testing

3.44               As part of the noise control policy, employers should monitor the hearing of employees exposed to noise by the use of regular audiometric testing. The audiometric testing scheme should include an initial reference test with subsequent periodic monitoring audiometric tests to follow. The initial reference audiogram (baseline reading) should be taken as soon as the employee commences work or before there is any exposure to workplace noise.  

3.45               Monitoring audiometry should be carried out within 12 months of initial work exposure for comparison with the results of reference (baseline) audiometry. In the absence of significant threshold shift or change in the work situation, it may then be sufficient to repeat the test at yearly intervals.

3.46               An audiometric testing program should be available to any employee likely to be routinely exposed to excessive noise even if they regularly use personal hearing protectors. Changes in hearing levels over time should be thoroughly investigated.

Note: At high LAeq, 8h (daily noise exposure levels) equal or greater than 100dB (A) more frequent audiometric testing may be desirable.

3.47               Employers should ensure that qualified and competent people carry out audiometric testing and assessment of the audiograms. The procedures and equipment used should be in accordance with the specifications in AS/NZS 1269.4:2005 Occupational noise management – Auditory assessment.

3.48               Employers should ensure that the audiometric monitoring is scheduled well into the work shift so that comparison with the reference audiogram can reveal any temporary threshold shift due to inadequacies in the use of personal hearing protectors.

3.49               The employer should ensure that at audiometric testing:

a)             the hearing status of the employee is discussed with the employee;

b)             the best type of personal hearing protectors for the job is discussed;

c)             the personal hearing protection equipment is properly fitted and appropriate to the noise level anticipated and the degree of hearing protection required;

d)            instructions on the use should be repeated at each subsequent attendance for audiometric testing; 

e)             the results are given to employees and contractors within two months of the audiometric testing; 

f)              all results are accompanied by a written explanation, in an easy to read form, with the meaning and implications;

g)             individual results should be released to other parties only on the written authority of the employee; and

h)             any unidentifiable individual results and group data should be accessible to the relevant employer and/or the health and safety representatives and the relevant authority.

3.50               When temporary or permanent threshold shifts are revealed through audiometric assessments or an employee reports a recent diagnosis of tinnitus, the employer should be informed so they can arrange:

a)             to review the employee’s work tasks to identify any changes that may have caused an increase in exposure to noise;

b)             a reduction in the levels of noise that the employee exposure to and a reduction in the duration of that exposure;

c)             to verify the nominal performance of the employee’s personal hearing protector is adequate for the level of exposure to noise;

d)            to examine the protector carefully and ensure it is not worn or damaged;

e)             to check the protector fits the employee closely and there are no leakage paths for noise;

f)              to ask the employee if they have any difficulty using the protector;

g)             to check the employee actually uses the protector correctly and consistently whilst performing work activities; and

h)             to deal with any problems revealed by the above procedure and refer to expert advice as necessary.

3.51               When employees have sufficient hearing loss to interfere with the safe performance of work tasks, employers should take all reasonably practicable steps to modify the work environment. This can include:

a)            volume control telephones;

b)            acoustically treated meeting areas with low noise and low reverberation;

c)            supplementary visual warning signals; and

d)           alterative work for the employee when the preceding steps do not remedy the situation.

3.52               The reference audiogram should be updated whenever a significant permanent threshold shift has occurred (revealed by audiometry) or every 10 years, whichever occurs sooner. Subsequent monitoring audiograms should then be compared with this most recent reference audiogram. Records of previous reference audiograms should be retained.

3.53               Audiometric test records of employees, when released to the employer, should be kept during the employees’ period of employment and longer if necessary, as they may provide a useful reference for workers compensation. The records should be kept in a safe, secure place and held as confidential documents.

Provide training

3.54               Employers should provide training as an integral part of a preventive strategy. The target groups include:

a)             managers and supervisors of employees considered at risk of noise–induced hearing loss and tinnitus;

b)             employees and contractors who may be exposed to excessive noise at work;

c)             workplace health and safety committees and health and safety representatives; and

d)            staff responsible for the purchasing of plant, noise control equipment, personal hearing protectors and for the designing, scheduling, organisation and layout of work.

3.55               The training objectives should be:

a)             to minimise noise–induced hearing loss and tinnitus by a risk management approach that emphasises engineering noise control measures;

b)             to promote an understanding of noise–related health effects including the cumulative effects of workplace noise and other noise sources, for example, from domestic and leisure activities; and

c)             to promote the adoption of a systematic approach to the management of exposure to excessive noise.

3.56               The needs of each target group may be different and the content and methods of presenting training material should be tailored to meet the specific needs of each group. Handouts, prepared as simple guidelines related to the needs of the group being trained, should be provided for all participants. The workplace noise control policy and program of action should be readily available to all participants.

3.57               The contents of the training program should be aimed at prevention of noise–induced hearing loss and tinnitus and may include:

a)             a definition of noise and excessive noise;

b)             the effects of noise on hearing;

c)             the social handicaps of noise–induced hearing loss and tinnitus;

d)            an overview of the workplace noise control policies and programs of action;

e)             the nature and location of noise hazard areas in the workplace which may be associated with technology, plant and/or work practices employees use in the course of their employment;

f)              the general noise control measures in use or planned;

g)             the specific control measures in relation to each employees work activities.  This should include instruction in the correct use and maintenance of measures which minimise noise levels such as exhaust silencers and enclosures;

h)             when and how to use personal hearing protectors provided. This should include:

(i)        selection;

(ii)      proper fit;

(iii)    care and maintenance;

i)               the reporting arrangements for defects in plant or the workplace activities which are likely to cause exposure to excessive noise; and

j)               the purpose and nature of audiometric testing.

Provide personal hearing protectors

Note: It may be more practical to protect the operator(s) instead of enclosing the sound sources. Engineering controls are safer than using personal protective equipment, which impedes the wearer’s ability to hear warnings, and should be considered first.

3.58               When engineering and administrative noise control measures do not reduce the employee’s exposure to, or below, the exposure standard for noise, employers must supply employees and contractors with effective personal hearing protectors (Safety Standards Regulation 3.08(4). Hearing protectors should be regarded as an interim measure until control of excessive noise is achieved by engineering or administrative measures.

3.59               The removal of personal hearing protectors for even short periods can significantly reduce the effectiveness and provide inadequate protection. For example, taking off personal hearing protectors in a noisy environment for a total of just 15 minutes in an eight hour day reduces the protector performance to just 15dB regardless of how good the protector is in theory.

3.60               Where the work environment is not conducive to wearing personal hearing protectors for long periods, employers should allow employees and contractors regular periods in quiet areas without personal hearing protectors as part of the personal protection program.

3.61               Employers should ensure that areas where people may be exposed to excessive noise are signposted, as hearing protector areas, and the boundaries of these areas are clearly defined. Where a designated excessive noise area is sign–posted, visitors, employees, managers, supervisors, contractors or any other person should not enter during normal operations without wearing appropriate personal hearing protectors. This is regardless of how long the person spends in the hearing protector area. Signage should conform to specifications in AS 1319:1994 Safety signs for the occupational environment.

3.62               Where sign posting is not practicable, employers should make alternative arrangements to ensure that employees and others can recognise circumstances in which personal hearing protectors are required. Methods of achieving this include:

a)             attaching prominent warning notices to tools and equipment indicating that personal hearing protectors should be worn when operating them;

b)             providing written and verbal instructions on how to recognise circumstances in which personal hearing protectors are needed; and

c)             ensuring effective supervision of identified hearing protector areas.

3.63               Employers should ensure that personal hearing protectors provide reliable and adequate protection. Personal hearing protectors should be selected and maintained in accordance with AS/NZS 1269.3:2005 Occupational Noise management Hearing protector program. The attenuation values used in all selection procedures should be derived from attenuation measurements made in accordance with AS/NZS 1270:2002 Acoustics hearing protector.

Hearing protector classification

Class

SLC80 range

LAeq,8h dB(A)

1

10 to 13

Less than 90

2

14 to 17

90 to less than 95

3

18 to 21

95 to less than 100

4

22 to 25

100 to less than 105

5

26 or greater

105 to less than 110

 

3.64               Suppliers of hearing protectors should provide full information on the attenuation likely to be provided including the SLC80 ratings, Class and octave band attenuation values. The supplier’s reports should be made available to employees, contractors and/or their representatives and where appropriate health and safety representatives.  

3.65               When selecting hearing protectors employers should consider:

a)             the degree of attenuation required in the employee and contractor’s environment. Personal hearing protectors with unnecessarily high attenuation (noise reduction) may increase communication difficulties and be uncomfortable;

b)             the suitability for the type of working environment and the work activities. For example, earplugs are difficult to use hygienically in work that requires them to be inserted with dirty hands and therefore in these circumstances, earmuffs would be more appropriate. However, earmuffs tend to be more uncomfortable in hot environments, or may make it difficult for the wearer to enter a confined space or to wear a helmet;

c)             the comfort, weight and clamping force of the hearing protector; and

d)            individual fit which is critical for optimum protection. Wearing work equipment may affect the performance of the protector. This should be checked while the user is wearing regular work equipment, such as helmets and respiratory protective equipment. Where employees wear spectacles, they should be fitted with hearing protectors (earmuffs) while wearing the spectacles. Disposable plugs do not need individual fitting; however, the ability of the material to conform to the user’s ear canal should be a consideration.

3.66               Employers should ensure that personal hearing protectors are regularly inspected and maintained. Adequate provision should be made for clean storage of the protectors when they are not in use. Facilities should be readily available for the cleaning of reusable protectors.

3.67               Employers should ensure employees and others in the workplace are given instruction in the use, fit, care and maintenance of personal hearing protectors. Employers, managers and supervisors should encourage the use of personal hearing protectors by explanation, personal example and ensure that they are used properly where and when required.

Note: If personal hearing protectors reduce the effectiveness of the Emergency Warning and Intercommunication System (EWIS), employers should consider alternatives such as flashing or strobe lights for example.

RESPONSIBILITIES OF EMPLOYEES AND CONTRACTORS

3.68               Section 21(1) (a) of the Act requires that employees take all reasonably practicable steps to ensure that they do not take any action, or make any omission, that creates a risk, or increases an existing risk, to their health or safety or to the health and safety of others at or near the workplace.

3.69               Section 21(1) (b) of the Act requires that employees co-operate with their employer or any other person holding a duty under the Act to enable them to fulfil that duty. Safety Standards Regulation 3.09(1) (a) also requires that employees at work comply with any noise control measures implemented.

3.70               Safety Standards Regulation 3.10(1) (a) requires that contractors at a workplace comply with any noise control measures implemented.

3.71               Employees and contractors should comply with all established workplace procedures and cooperate in all activities that have, as the objective, the minimisation of occupational noise–induced hearing loss. They should actively:

a)             participate in any training required; and

b)             contribute to ongoing monitoring and evaluation of noise control measures.

Use personal hearing protection provided

3.72               Section 21(1) (c) of the Act requires that employees use equipment, in accordance with any instructions given by their employer, consistent with its safe and proper use, and in the manner necessary to protect their health and safety or the health and safety of others at or near the place of work.

3.73               Safety Standards Regulations 3.09(2) (a) and 3.10(2) (a) require that an employee or contractor use personal hearing protectors provided.

Report defective noise control equipment

3.74               Safety Standards Regulations 3.09(1) (b) and 3.10(1) (b) require that employees or contractors inform their employers, as soon as practicable, when they become aware of any defect with regard to any noise control equipment located at the workplace.

3.75               Employees and contractors should inspect personal hearing protectors regularly to detect and report damage or deterioration.


part 4 – MANUAL TASKS

Under development

 

 


PART 5 – VIBRATION

INTRODUCTION

5.1                   Vibration is the shaking that travels through structures, aircraft, automobiles, buildings, powered tools etc. The human body senses vibration through contact with objects such as tools, machinery, floors and equipment. There are two forms of vibration exposure according to contact points between the body and the vibrating source, whole–body vibration and hand/arm vibration.

5.2                   Exposure to vibration occurs in many workplaces. Sources of exposure to vibration can include noise, plant and confined spaces. Hand/arm vibration is most common in industries where hand–held power tools and machines are used which transmit vibration to the hands. Whole–body vibration is most common where commercial, industrial or construction vehicles are driven regularly and for most of the day.

5.3                   The risk of injury or illness associated with vibration will depend on a range of factors such as the susceptibility of the individual, intensity, frequency of exposure, duration (years) of exposure, level of insulation, grip force applied, state of tool maintenance and the parts of the body which are subjected to the vibration.

5.4                   Symptoms may take several years or a few months to develop.  Health consequences include damage to bones and joints, visual impairment, problems with balance due to inner ear damage, motion sickness and nerve and blood vessel degeneration.

5.5                   This Part of the Code must be read in conjunction with the introduction to the Code, including in relation to consultation. It should also be read in conjunction with Part 1 Risk Management. 1

PURPOSE

5.6                   This Part provides duty holders with practical guidance on ways to discharge their duty of care under the Act to employees and others in relation to vibration identified in the workplace.

SCOPE

5.7                   This Part applies to all places of work covered by the Act. Plant is the main source of vibration at work and therefore this Part should be read in conjunction with Part 4 Plant of the Safety Standards Regulations.

DEFINiTIONS

‘Carpal tunnel syndrome’  Carpal tunnel syndrome or Median Neuropathy at the wrist is a medical condition in which the median nerve is compressed at the wrist, leading to pain, numbness, tingling and muscle weakness in the forearm and hand.

 ‘Competent Person’ is defined in Part 20 of the Safety Standards Regulations.

‘Raynaud’s disease’’ is a condition where cold or emotion provokes narrowing of the blood vessels, then dilation of the blood vessels and reperfusion (where parts of the body become inflamed and red). The arteries narrow and limit blood circulation to affected areas. There is a restriction in the blood supply to the extremities of the body, usually the fingers and toes but also the nose and the ears. These body parts initially turn white and look dead (due to a spasm of arterioles) then blue (from pooling of deoxygenated blood in dilated veins) and then become inflamed and/or red.

‘Vibration induced White finger’ (Hand-arm vibration syndrome) – Vibration-induced White Finger is a form of Raynaud’s disease. It is the vascular and neurological component hand/arm vibration syndrome. It is characterised by episodic blanching of the fingers especially when exposed to cold. Other symptoms include numbness, tingling and pain in the hands and fingers. Vibration-induced white finger disease also causes a loss of grip force and reduced sensitivity to touch.

RESPONSIBILITIES OF MANUFACTURERS, SUPPLIERS, ERECTORS AND INSTALLERS OF PLANT and equipment

Prevent risks of vibration

5.8                   Manufacturers, suppliers, erectors and installers of plant should prevent the vibration from occurring during the use of plant in the design, construction and installation phase. This should include improving suspension systems, the equipment or plant designs and mountings.

5.9                   Where the risk cannot be eliminated manufacturers, suppliers, erectors and installers of plant should use the following separation approaches to minimise risks: 

a)             suspended cabs used on some commercial vehicles; and

b)             use of vibration isolation, for example, the use of rubber blocks or mounts on equipment or plant to reduce (isolate) the vibration.

Provide information

5.10               Where a risk of vibration has been identified, health and safety information should be provided with the plant in the instructions handbook. This should include:

a)             warnings for equipment that may cause hand/arm vibration;

b)             warnings about any vibration–related risk of injury arising from using the equipment;

c)             information on safe use and, where necessary, training requirements;

d)            information on how to maintain the equipment;

e)             a statement of the vibration emission or a statement that the vibration test has produced a vibration emission of less than 2.9 m/s2 together with information on the test method used;

f)              warnings for equipment that may cause whole–body vibration:

(i)            vibration emissions;

(ii)          any maintenance procedures to preserve the performance of vibration reduction features;

(iii)        whether there is likely to be any remaining risk from vibration; and

(iv)        instructions on how to use the equipment to avoid the risks associated with vibration.

RESPONSIBILITIES OF EMPLOYERS IN CONTROL OF PLANT

Identify hazards

5.11               Employers should identify all situations where there is a risk of exposure to vibration with plant or systems of work associated with plant. 

5.12               Employers should consult with employees and/or their representatives, health and safety representatives and other persons where applicable in the workplace to assist in identifying hazards associated with vibration.

5.13               When identifying hazards employers should consider:

a)             new or changes to equipment and/or plant in the workplace;

b)             changes made to the work area or work processes;

c)             work schedules reorganised; and

d)            employees assigned to new tasks.

5.14               Employers should use some of the following methods to identify potential hazards in the workplace:

a)             make a list of equipment that causes vibration and its use;

b)             collect information about the equipment from equipment handbooks;

c)             use observations, inspections and surveys;

d)            analyse records of injuries; and

e)             consult with specialists or experts in workplace vibration.

Assess the risks

5.15               Employers should undertake a risk assessment of all identified hazards to determine the level of exposure to vibration. The risk assessment should be undertaken for:

a)             current work practices, plant and equipment on a regular basis;

b)             new or altered work practices; and

c)             new or altered plant, equipment and work tasks in confined spaces.

5.16               In assessing the level of vibration, employers should consider the following factors that influence the level of vibration on the body and wrists:

a)             vibration frequency;

b)             level of insulation;

c)             duration of exposure;

d)            hardness of the material being worked on;

e)             grip force applied;

f)              cold conditions;

g)             prior medical conditions;

h)             whether the employee is a smoker (possible undiagnosed health related conditions such as narrowing of the arteries); and

i)               condition of tools (related to maintenance).

5.17               If excessive vibration has been identified as a hazard, employers should assess the employee exposure to vibration in the workplace by using a competent person to measure the vibration output in accordance with:

a)             for whole–body vibration: AS 2670.1:2001 – Evaluation of human exposure to whole body vibration; and

b)             for hand/arm transmitted vibration: AS 2763:1988 – Vibration and shock – Hand transmitted vibration – guidelines for measurement and assessment of human exposure.

Implement risk control measures

5.18               Employers should prevent plant vibration occurring in the workplace. Where this is not practicable, employers should use the hierarchy of controls to minimise exposure.

5.19               Employers should use alternative manufacturing methods or processes to eliminate the need for vibrating equipment. Where this is not practicable, employers should purchase equipment that produces less vibration.

5.20               Employers should eliminate or minimise exposure to vibration by:

a)             treating the vibration source (for example, isolate vibrating plant from its foundation through dampers and springs or redesign or modify the plant or equipment);

b)             treating the vibration transmission path (for example, isolate ducts from stationary plant or using a vibration dampened seating in locomotive cabins); or

c)             treating the receiver (for example, using control rooms such as enclosures or locomotive cabins to isolate the receiver from vibrating plant and surfaces).

Establish limits for exposure to whole–body vibration

5.21               When implementing control measures, employers should use the ‘Health Guidance Caution Zones’ as per the Australian Standard, AS 2670.1:2001 – Evaluation of human exposure to whole body vibration – General requirement, which applies to people in normal health who are regularly exposed to vibration to assess possible health risks from whole-body vibration.

5.22               Employers should use the following control measures to reduce exposure to vibration in the workplace:

a)             improve vehicle suspension and install operator seats mounted on suspension systems incorporating spring and damper elements;

b)             provide seats with back rests incorporating lumbar support;

c)             mount machines and plant on vibration isolating mounting pads;

d)            use anti–fatigue mats under the feet for standing employees to dampen vibration;

e)             provide standing employees with a sit/stand seat or lean seat to reduce the energy transmitted along the long bones of the legs;

f)              isolate or dampen vibrating work platforms through appropriate suspensions;

g)             ensure that the plant and equipment is operated within the speeds suggested by the manufacturer, or reduce the speed of travel, to reduce vibration levels;

h)             encourage employees to use the back rest with lumbar support correctly positioned on chairs when sitting; and

i)               provide employees with footwear with vibration absorbing soles.

Establish limits for exposure to hand/arm vibration

5.23               Employers should refer to the Australian Standard AS 2763:1988 – Vibration and shock – Hand transmitted vibration – guidelines for measurement and assessment of human exposure for guidance on the evaluation of hand-transmitted vibration exposure. Employees should not be exposed to hand/arm vibration exceeding the average exposure limit over a four-hour period in a shift. This is set at 2.9m/s2. Where exposure exceeds an acceleration value of 2.9m/s2 in the frequency range 5Hz to 1500Hz, the employee should be medically examined for the presence of ‘Vibration-induced White Finger’ or susceptibility for ‘Vibration-induced White Finger’. 

5.24               Employers should ensure that people with 'Vibration-induced White Finger’ do not perform work which causes hand/arm vibration.

Select and provide appropriate tools

5.25               Employers should use the following control guidelines when purchasing and operating tools in the workplace:

a)             obtain specifications from tool manufacturers on vibration characteristics and the recommended length of exposure time;   

b)             obtain information about the availability of accessories such as anti–vibration handles or internal damping mechanisms. Accessories may not have been provided with the equipment itself but can be installed after purchase of the tool; and

c)             choose tools that have a speed adjustment to decrease vibration, internal damping, vibration–isolated handles and automatic shut off when the tool is not in operation.

5.26               Employers should consider modification of existing tools to either reduce vibration or prevent the vibration from moving into the handle of the tool. Modifications, accessories, substitutes or tool revisions may be available from the manufacturer to reduce tool vibration. Modifications can include the use of:

a)             air-cushioned cylinders, air shut-off clutches and properly selected isolation mounts; 

b)             insulation or change in gearing mechanisms to internally dampen hand tools;  

c)             vibration–insulation rubber or foam to cover handles; 

d)            vibration–absorbing gloves; 

e)             tool stands, isolated fixtures and isolated handles to remove the vibrating source from the hand; and

f)              mufflers or baffles to redirect the air exhaust away from the employees’ hands.

5.27               Problems from vibrating tools may also depend on the way they are used and employers should ensure that the effects of vibration are reduced by:

a)             the use of pressure regulators for pneumatic (air powered) tools so that the tool operates at the design pressure rather than full-line pressure; 

b)             modification of the work process so that the grip force required is reduced. The larger the force the employee uses in gripping, the more vibration energy is absorbed. This can be achieved by using:

i)               a slip–resistant surface on the tool handle (moist hands can cause employees to exert greater grip force to control the tool);

ii)            a suspended balancing system to reduce the weight of the tool and the gripping force needed (this reduces the transmission of vibration energy to the hand); and

c)             exhaust mufflers or baffles to direct air away from employees’ hands and faces.

Implement safe systems of work

5.28               Employers should ensure that safe work systems are designed, properly implemented and followed to assist in the prevention of workplace vibration injuries. These systems of work should be used in conjunction with other safety measures and include:

a)             limiting the time spent by each employee on a vibrating surface;  

b)             rotating employees over a working day to reduce the vibration exposure for each employee. This could include having employees in shift teams so that an individual employee works, with vibrating tools, for no more than 4 hours through a working day; 

c)             providing adequate breaks away from the vibrating sources. Employers may introduce work/rest breaks to avoid constant or continued exposure to vibration (for example, a 10 minute break each hour);  

d)            ensuring that the equipment and plant are well maintained. This can include:

(i)            keeping chisels and cutters sharp and screws tightened;

(ii)          periodic replacement of damaged tools and tool shock absorbers;

(iii)        maintenance of internal tool workings such as pneumatic cylinder stops;

(iv)        lubrication of bearings and other moving parts, the rebalancing of rotating equipment and the replacement of leaking compressed air valves; 

e)             improving the surrounding ground surface where vehicles are driven regularly (for example, repairing potholes, clearing debris or levelling the surface);  

f)              maintaining the floor surfaces (including ramps and dock levellers) for vehicles such as forklifts so as to reduce exposure from driving over uneven or cracked surfaces; and

g)             checking with employees that vibrations have actually diminished.

Provide personal protective equipment (PPE)

5.29               Employers should select PPE based on individual fit, comfort, work tasks and the work environment in order to achieve a reduction in vibration exposure. 

5.30               Employers should provide training and instruction on the correct use, care and maintenance of PPE.  

Provide information, training and supervision

5.31               Employers should provide information and training to persons at the workplace that may be exposed to vibration. This should occur when:

a)             new equipment and plant is introduced into the workplace or changes are made to the existing equipment and plant;

b)             changes are made to the work area or processes;

c)             work schedules are reorganised; and

d)            employees are reassigned to new tasks.

5.32               Where employees may be exposed to whole–body vibration, employers should provide information about whole–body vibration such as the risk of back pain and what they can do to prevent injury. This can include how to:

a)             adjust the seat for a good seating position;

b)             adjust a suspension seat for the driver’s weight. This is necessary when different people drive the vehicle;

c)             drive the vehicle to reduce vibration levels by driving at the speed suggested by the manufacturer or reduce the speed;

d)            plan work site routes with the smoothest terrain and keep speed low when crossing uneven terrain;

e)             steer the vehicle to avoid hitting objects and pot holes; and

f)              vary the pattern of work to break up periods of continuous driving.

5.33               Where employees may be exposed to hand/arm vibration, employers should educate the employees in:

a)             good working practices to reduce vibration directed into the hands, for example, resting the tool on a support or on the work piece as much as possible;

b)             how to grip tools properly for safe operation;

c)             the need for tools to be well maintained with the cutting edges sharpened and screws tightened;

d)            the problems with smoking with regard to the link between smoking and White Finger;

e)             recognising symptoms (finger tingling or whitening) which may indicate potential health problems; and

f)              the need to report early symptoms of vibration disease to a supervisor.

5.34               The employer should provide supervision to employees during the course of work to ensure that the plant and equipment is used in accordance with training and instructions.

Monitor and review control measures

5.35               Employers should implement a program to monitor the exposure to vibration if a significant risk has been identified. The monitoring program should include:

a)             regular vibration exposure surveys of employees;

b)             identification of sources of hazardous vibration; 

c)             assessment of vibration control measures; 

d)            suitability of any personal protective equipment provided;

e)             regular medical checks based on the recommendations of a registered   medical practitioner; and

f)              periodic review of the effectiveness of the vibration management program.

5.36               Employers should ensure that a registered Medical Practitioner or a qualified nurse conducts any medical surveillance. Medical surveillance should be relevant to the workplace and include:

a)             discussing an employee’s pre-employment history including prescribed medication for migraine, hypertension or heart disease;  

b)             a medical examination within six months of commencing employment; 

c)             a medical examination taken before a shift and after at least 12 hours away from exposure; and

d)            the provision of information for employees on ‘Vibration-induced White Finger’ and other symptoms of vibration exposure.

Keep Records

5.37               Employers should keep records to assist in identifying hazards, assessing risks, implementing risk control measures, reviewing and monitoring the adequacy of the control measures. These records should be relevant to the workplace and include:

a)             the date of purchase of plant and equipment and manufacturer’s recommended maintenance schedule;

b)             the maintenance schedule including: 

(i)           exposure to vibration in terms of the frequency spectrum of vibration, the magnitude and duration of exposure per working day; and

(ii)         action taken to minimise exposure to vibration;

c)             the training provided to employees; and

d)            reported instances of non-compliance.

RESPONSIBILITIES OF EMPLOYEES

5.38               Employees have a responsibility to ensure that they attend the required training for the operation of plant and equipment and to use the plant and equipment in accordance with this training and any instruction provided by the supervisors.

5.39               Employees should report to their supervisor:

a)             unusual vibration variances;

b)             symptoms of exposure to vibration;

c)             PPE they believe to be defective; 

d)            any employee non-compliance with policies and procedures; and

e)             any misuse of equipment and plant.

5.40               Employees should use the PPE provided by the employer according to the manufacturers’ instruction and any training provided.

5.41               Employees should contribute to, and assist the employer with, initiatives that enhance health and safety measures and reduce the exposure to vibration at the workplace.


PART 6 – Human Immunodeficiency Virus and Hepatitis B & C

INTRODUCTION

6.1                   Hepatitis B virus (HBV), Hepatitis C virus (HCV) and Human Immunodeficiency virus (HIV) are the most common blood–borne viruses that may be encountered in some workplaces and occupations.  All three viruses can have very significant long-term adverse effects on the health of those infected by them.

6.2                   An employer should identify occupations and work practices that may put employees at risk of infection by HBV, HCV and HIV. There is a wide range of potential exposure circumstances affecting many occupations. These include, but are not limited to, the following occupations and services:

a)             hospital, medical, dental, allied health and first aid employees;

b)             emergency work, including police, ambulance, fire brigade and related services;

c)             customs, quarantine and immigration staff;

d)            medical, forensic, pathology and other laboratory staff;

e)             post mortem, mortuary and funeral services;

f)              cleaning, laundry, garbage collection and sanitation services;

g)             parks and gardens staff;

h)             people who officiate at, or work in, contact sports;

i)               public transport staff;

j)               client contact staff where is potential for violence;

k)             the defence force;

l)               corrective services;

m)           teachers; and

n)             postal employees.

6.3                   This Part of the Code must be read in conjunction with the introduction to the Code, including in relation to consultation. It should also be read in conjunction with Part 1 Risk Management. 1

PURPOSE

6.4                   This Part provides duty holders with practical guidance on ways to discharge their duty of care in relation to minimising exposure of employees at work and others at or near the workplace to HBV, HCV and HIV under Section 16 of the Act.

SCOPE

6.5                   This Part is applicable to all organisations where employers and employees, as defined under the Act, are at risk of exposure to HBV, HCV and HIV viruses in their workplaces and/or arising out of their occupations. Prevention and management of exposure to these viruses will also control exposure to less common blood borne viruses such as the Hepatitis D virus and Hepatitis G virus.

6.6                   This Part does not apply to the exposure to non blood–borne viral, bacterial and other pathogens that may be encountered in the workplace.

DEFINITIONS

Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS)’ – is a syndrome causing chronic infections and other significant health problems resulting from permanent damage to the body’s immune system.

‘Exposure’– for the purposes of this Part, exposure means contamination of a person with potentially infectious blood, other body fluids/substances, or their derivatives. Contamination usually occurs via contact with broken skin (including needle stick injuries) or mucous membranes.

‘Hepatitis’– means inflammation of the liver caused by a variety of agents such as drugs and chemicals. For the purposes of this Part, the causal factor is viral.  

‘Hepatitis B virus (HBV)’– is a virus that causes inflammation of the liver. Approximately 5% of adults who have contracted Hepatitis B develop chronic hepatitis. Chronic hepatitis can possibly lead to cirrhosis of the liver, liver failure and/or liver cancer.

‘Hepatitis C virus (HCV)’ – is a virus that causes inflammation of the liver. Approximately 75% of people who have contracted Hepatitis C develop chronic hepatitis. Chronic hepatitis can possibly lead to cirrhosis of the liver, liver failure, and/or liver cancer.

‘Human Immunodeficiency virus (HIV)’ – is a virus that progressively destroys the immune systems of most people it infects resulting in AIDS.

‘Pathogen’– is a microorganism, such as a virus or bacterium, capable of causing disease in humans, animals and plants.

‘Post-exposure follow-up’– means the program for follow-up after exposure.

‘Post-exposure prophylaxis’ – is any prophylactic treatment started immediately after exposure to a disease (such as a disease-causing virus) in order to prevent the development of the disease. In the case of HIV, post-exposure prophylaxis refers to a course of antiretroviral drugs, which is thought to reduce the risk of seroconversion. Hepatitis B immunoglobulin is used as post-exposure prophylaxis after exposure to Hepatitis B.

‘Prophylaxis’ – is the treatment to prevent the onset of a disease.

‘Standard precautions’ – refers to the work practices required to achieve a basic level of infection control as outlined by the Infection Control Guidelines for the prevention of transmission of infectious diseases in the healthcare setting 2004 produced by the Department of Health and Ageing.

RESPONSIBILITIES OF EMPLOYERS

Identify hazards

6.7                   When identifying hazards, an employer should give particular regard to potential sources of infection. Sources of infection can include:

a)             blood and other body substances from people who are infected with the viruses; and

b)             material contaminated or likely to be contaminated with infected blood, blood products or other body substances, such as:

(i)                 sanitary waste;

(ii)               soiled linen;

(iii)             clinical and first aid waste;

(iv)             used needles; and

(v)               other sharp instruments or materials.

Note: People infected with blood-borne viruses may not show signs or symptoms of illness, therefore all blood and body fluids/substances should be regarded as potentially infectious.

6.8                   Modes of transmission include:

a)            contact of non-intact skin with blood and body fluids/substances with contaminated items and surfaces;

b)            skin penetration injuries involving contaminated sharps;

c)            splashes of blood and body fluids/substances to the eyes, nose and mouth; and

d)           sexual contact.

6.9                   Hazardous activities include:

a)             the provision of first aid;

b)             high risk occupational activities;

c)             undertaking medical procedures involving the handling of needles and other sharps; and

d)            the handling and disposal of discarded sharp objects such as needles and syringes found in public places.

6.10               Work practices and occupations where a hazard may exist should be identified through:

a)             consultation with employees to determine workplace practices which may result in transmission of HCV, HBV and HIV giving consideration to the transmission modes in the workplace; 

b)             analysis of reports of potential HBV, HBC and HIV exposures including:

(i)     accidental blood and body fluid/substance exposures;

(ii)   skin-penetrating injuries involving contaminated sharps.

c)             workplace audits focussed on:

i)      the potential exposure from activities and tasks; and

ii)    the workplace layout; and

d)            work practices; and

e)             sources of exposure.

Note: The most common methods of transmission are contaminated sharps penetrating skin, infected blood or other body fluids/substances splashing into the eyes or other mucous membranes sites or onto broken skin.

Assess the risks

6.11               An employer should assess the risks arising from exposure to blood, body fluids/ substances or contaminated materials.  Risk assessments should take into account:

a)             the type, frequency and the probability of exposure;

b)             the amount and type of blood, body fluids/substances or contaminated materials encountered;

c)             possible routes of exposure;

d)            consideration of multiple exposures including multiple sources;

e)             frequency of contact with discarded used needles and syringes and the numbers of needles and syringes involved;

f)              factors contributing to the exposures and if there is recurrence;

g)             whether the exposure is routine, occasional or unpredictable;   

h)             risks of exposure associated with workplace layout, type of equipment used and work practices;

i)               access to appropriate first aid and medical services, the availability of vaccines (for example, HBV vaccine) and the availability of other post exposure prophylaxis;

j)               the level of knowledge and training of employees regarding the viruses including training in safe work practices;

k)             the availability and use of personal protective equipment;

l)               individual risk factors for each employee, including damaged skin, dermatitis, eczema and HBV immune status;

m)           the likelihood and consequences of infection;

n)             effectiveness of current risk control measures; and

o)             the potential need for new measures.

Implement risk control measures

6.12               Employers should evaluate all procedures that may involve exposures to blood and body fluids/substances capable of causing pathogen transmission to identify ways to eliminate or reduce the risk of exposure.

Eliminate the risk

6.13               Whenever practicable, employers should use alternative processes to eliminate or reduce the risk of exposure. This may include for example:

a)             automated washing and decontamination systems to eliminate manual cleaning of sharps;

b)             modifying surgical procedures; and

c)             removing lancet and scalpel blades with clamps.

Use engineering controls

6.14               If it is not possible to eliminate the risk, employers should use engineering controls such as:

a)             syringes without needles (interlink syringes);

b)             interlink products; and

c)             retractable needles after use.

Use administrative controls

6.15               Employers should use administrative controls for the prevention and management of exposure to blood and/or body fluids either from a sharps injury or from splashing onto the mucous membranes or non-intact skin and include:

a)             for prevention:

(i)            the use of standard precautions;

(ii)          a HBV vaccination program; and

b)             for control:

(i)        education and training programs;

(ii)         development of safe work practices;

(iii)       arrangements for the immediate first aid response;

(iv)       provisions for post-exposure medical review and/or treatment, including post-exposure prophylaxis and ongoing monitoring; 

(v)         provision of post-exposure counselling if required;

(vi)       procedures for recording the incident and reporting the incident to the employer; and

(vii)     protocols for reviewing existing procedures in order to prevent further incidents.  

Use personal protective equipment (PPE)

6.16               PPE should be used to reduce the risk of exposure to blood and body fluids/substances that cannot be eliminated or reduced by other control methods. Examples of PPE include:

a)             gowns and gloves for all procedures whenever there is a potential for contact blood and body fluids/substances; and

b)             goggles and face shields when splashing is possible.

Implement standard precautions

6.17               Standard precautions should be developed in accordance with the Infection Control Guidelines for the prevention of transmission of infectious diseases in the healthcare setting 2004 produced by the Department of Health and Ageing.

6.18               Employers should incorporate standard precautions into their safe work procedures to achieve a minimum level of exposure and ensure infection prevention.  Standard precautions should apply to the handling of all blood and other body fluids/substances regardless of whether they contain visible blood.  Standard precautions include the following work practices:

a)             a high standard of personal hygiene particularly hand hygiene;

b)             use of personal protective equipment which may include gloves, impermeable aprons or gowns, mask/face shields and or eye protection;

c)             appropriate handling and disposal of sharps and other clinical waste;

d)            appropriate cleaning, disinfection and/or sterilisation of reusable equipment;

e)             appropriate maintenance, general cleaning, clean up and spills management; and

f)              provision of appropriate support services such as laundering of work clothing (for example, laboratory gowns or coats).

Implement HBV vaccination protocol

6.19               Employers should develop guidelines for vaccination of all employees at substantial risk of contracting HBV at work. (Refer to Part 2 First Aid paragraph 2.10)

Note: A universal HBV vaccination program for infants and young adults is now in place in Australia but has not been in operation long enough for all adults to be vaccinated.

6.20               Vaccination protocols should be developed in accordance with the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) Immunisation Handbook (8th Edition). Some occupations and work situations where HBV vaccination is recommended are listed below:

a)             all staff directly involved in patient/client care, embalming or in the handling of human blood or other body fluids/substances, laboratory and especially microbiology staff;

b)             carers of the intellectually disabled;  

c)             staff of correctional facilities;

d)            police, members of the defence forces and emergency services staff; and

e)             long-term business travellers or business travellers residing for some time in countries with a high prevalence of HBV.

6.21               Employers should develop and implement vaccination protocols in conjunction with a medical practitioner or on an accredited immuniser recommendations based on the latest NHMRC advice. Vaccination should be provided to the employee free of charge. As with all vaccinations, the HBV vaccine is associated with side effects that may cause some complications in a minority of persons, employees should always be advised to discuss vaccinations with a medical practitioner.

6.22               The vaccination procedure for HBV involves a follow-up process and employers should ensure that vaccinated employees are tracked to ensure that they have full immunity. Booster doses may be required for individuals who are at substantial occupational risk of exposure to HBV. Post-vaccination serological testing (three months after the third dose of HBV vaccine) is recommended by the NHMRC, for persons at significant occupational risk of exposure to HBV.

Note: The Australian Immunisation Handbook 2008 does not recommend booster doses in immunocompetent individuals after a primary course of hepatitis B immunisation as there is good evidence that a completed primary course provides long-lasting protection. This includes health-care workers and dentist. However, booster doses are recommended for Immunosupressed individuals.

6.23               Non-responders to the HBV vaccine are particularly at risk and employers should provide further management through other means including:

a)             additional training or supervision;

b)             additional PPE for the employee;

c)             referral to a medical practitioner for review; and

d)            instruction on post-exposure procedures that includes information on the need for prompt medical assessment.

6.24               Employers with ‘at–risk employees’ should develop, maintain and regularly update immunisation/health screening cards and/or records during the period of their employment. These records should be maintained in accordance with the organisation’s policy for the retention of medical records. 

6.25               Employees should have access to their individual medical screening records on request and extracts of these screening records should be available to employees whenever they change their place of employment. Employers should also recommend to employees that they maintain their own personal records of all immunisations and screening.

6.26               On completion of a risk assessment, an employer should implement control measures by referring to the hierarchy of controls.  

a)             developing and implementing control policies and procedures in consultation with employees;

b)             monitoring the effectiveness of control strategies; and

c)             reviewing, updating policies/procedures and strategies as necessary.

Provide education and training

6.27               Employers should ensure that all employees at risk of contact with blood and body fluids/substances or contaminated materials in the course of their work, receive education and training with regard to HBV, HCV and HIV. Workplace education and training programs should:

a)             form part of induction programs for new employees; and

b)             be made available as refresher training on a regular basis according to the workplace training programs.

6.28               Employers should ensure that these programs:

a)             relate to the activities of the workplace, are targeted to specific tasks and delivered in a manner appropriate to the specific workplace;

b)             educate employees in safe work practices to prevent exposure;

c)             educate employees in the correct procedures for post-exposure management including first aid response;

d)            inform employees of the post-exposure testing, counselling and follow-up processes;

e)             inform employees of vaccination programs and encourage vaccination;

f)              inform employees about their legal rights and obligations regarding occupational health and safety;

g)             direct employees to other reliable sources of information;

h)             provide updates when there are changes in information about blood–borne pathogens such as HBV, HCV and HIV; and

i)               provide updates on changes in work practices and when new equipment is introduced.

Develop safe work procedures

6.29               Employers should develop safe work procedures in workplaces where employees may be exposed to blood and/or body fluids/substances with the intention of minimising the possibility of infection by blood–borne viruses. These procedures should include the procedures for the safe use of sharps.

Note: Safe work procedures are written instructions in response to an identified health and safety issue that may arise from undertaking a particular activity or task and describe the method(s) of undertaking that activity or task to minimise the risk of harm. 

6.30               Employers should ensure that these safe work procedures are written/rewritten when designing a new activity or changing an existing one and when introducing new equipment to the workplace. A revised safe work procedure may be required when an investigation of an incident identifies a problem.

6.31               A safe work procedure should:

a)             identify the relevant supervisor for the activity and the employees who will undertake that activity;

b)             list all the tasks involved in the activity; 

c)             list the equipment or substances used in those tasks including personal protective equipment;

d)            list the control measures to prevent injury including actions to be undertaken to address safety issues that may become evident while performing the tasks; and

e)             identify any training necessary to undertake the tasks.

Implement procedures for storage, transport and disposal of clinical waste

6.32               Employers should implement procedures to dispose of clinical waste such as blood-contaminated materials, potentially infectious waste and sharps including needles and syringes.

6.33               State and Territory authorities, including health departments, environmental protection agencies (EPAs) and local councils should be consulted to ensure that the classification of materials and the disposal of clinical waste products are in accordance with the regulation to protect human health and the environment. Employers should ensure that they comply with all applicable statutory requirements and guidelines.

Implement post-exposure procedures

6.34               Employers should develop management guidelines for the immediate first aid response to an exposure incident. These guidelines should be in accordance with the requirements of Part 2 First Aid of this Code of Practice. Employers should also consider incorporating the following emergency response procedures specific to dealing with exposure to HBV, HCV and HIV:

a)             prompt removal of contaminated clothing;

b)             prompt flushing of the wound under running water;

c)             washing the wound using water and liquid soap (except for the eyes, mouth and nose);

d)            rinsing of the eyes, mouth and nose (if affected) thoroughly with warm water (without soap) or saline;

e)             thoroughly pat drying the area;

f)              applying a sterile waterproof dressing such as an adhesive plaster if necessary;

g)             applying pressure through the dressing if bleeding still persists; and

h)             seeking medical advice.

6.35               Employers should develop guidelines regarding post-exposure medical assessment, treatment and review. This includes:

a)             seeking medical advice as soon as possible following any exposure incident involving blood and other body fluids/substances or contaminated materials;

b)             using a medical practitioner or other suitably qualified health employee to undertake the medical assessment;

c)             ensuring that the assessment addresses the risk of infection based on factors such as:

(i)           the source of the blood or other body fluid/substance;

(ii)         the circumstances of the exposure;

(iii)       the affected person; and

d)            providing advice and information on the importance of monitoring and prophylactic treatment.

6.36               After some exposure events, post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) treatment may be recommended by a health professional until the infectious status of the employee is known. This is particularly the case in moderate or high–risk exposures (for example, if the source is unknown) when the person is known not to be immune to HBV or where HIV exposure is suspected. In such cases prophylactic treatment is most successful if administered as close to the exposure incident as possible.

6.37               Employers should ensure that treatment for exposure to HBV and HIV begins as soon as possible after the exposure, preferably within 72 hours. Treatment of non-immune persons with HBV immunoglobulin and /or vaccination against HBV infection may provide up to 75 per cent protection if administered within this timeframe.

Note: There is no post-exposure treatment available for HCV that will prevent infection however early detection and treatment of HCV may be of value for some infected individuals. 

6.38               Prophylactic treatments change as new information becomes available and employers should ensure that employees at risk of exposure have prompt access to health professionals who can provide up-to-date medical advice on the most appropriate approach.

Implement procedures for the provision of counselling

6.39               As exposure to blood, including needlestick injuries, can be a traumatic experience for some exposed persons, employers should implement procedures for the provision of post-exposure counselling. The procedures should cover the provision of appropriate pre and post-test counselling for all exposed persons. As part of any medical assessment for HBV, HCV or HIV infection, counselling should be offered in conjunction with the medical assessment. Information on the available testing procedures and treatments should also be provided.

Implement guidelines for testing, monitoring and informed consent

6.40               Employers should develop post-exposure guidelines that include:

a)             when testing should occur;

b)             who should conduct the tests; and  

c)             the communication process for an affected employee.

6.41               The need for testing is linked to the outcome of any post-exposure medical assessment and the recommendation of the attending health professional. Testing is a voluntary, but recommended, option that is subject to privacy and anti-discrimination legislation. Employers should ensure that the employee’s privacy and confidentially is maintained and that informed consent is obtained and pre-test counselling is provided, before any testing is undertaken. 

6.42               When the employee is willing to undergo testing employers should ensure that it is conducted within 72 hours of the exposure incident. For HBV, immediate detection of non-immunity in the exposed person and the subsequent provision of PEP treatment, within 72 hours of exposure, may provide protection from HBV.

6.43               For HIV exposure, depending upon the circumstances (for example, an unknown source) and risk of the exposure, testing may provide similar benefits to HBV exposure since post-exposure antiretroviral intervention may modify or prevent the spread of the virus.

6.44               Further testing of the exposed person for acquisition of a blood–borne infection may be appropriate, between six weeks and six months, depending on the nature and extent of the exposure and according to the recommendation of the attending health professional.

6.45               Employees exposed to potentially infectious blood, body fluids/substances or contaminated material may need to modify their work or personal activities until their infectious status is clarified. This can take up to six months following three blood tests, unless the employee was previously infected which makes the results available earlier.

6.46               After some exposure events, it may be appropriate to test the infectious status of an employee who has been identified as the potential source of the blood or body fluid (if known). However, in accordance with statutory privacy principles, this person has the right to refuse to be tested.

6.47               Organisations carrying out testing are subject to privacy legislation. This means they will not normally release the results of the tests to anyone but the employee undergoing the tests or to the employee’s treating doctor. It is the employee’s decision to disclose the results of the tests to their employer or other parties.

 

Develop guidelines for notification and record keeping

6.48               The Act requires employers to notify Comcare and keep records of all deaths, serious personal injuries and dangerous occurrences. Some high-risk incidents involving exposure to HBV, HCV and HIV viruses will fall into the category of dangerous occurrences and therefore are notifiable to Comcare.

6.49               Appropriate records should be kept in a secure place with access available to authorised persons only. The records should include:

a)             a register of incidents;

b)             the outcome and information from associated investigations;

c)             recommendations for action (for example testing and counselling);

d)            management response to recommendations such as medical testing counselling and implemented changes to work practices and equipment; and

e)             evaluation of the effectiveness of the response.

6.50               Records should contain additional information regarding resulting disorders and required treatments only if the person involved discloses that information. To do so without such permission may constitute a breach of privacy laws.

Implement program of regular monitoring and evaluation

6.51               Employers should implement a program of regular monitoring and evaluation of work practices to ensure that they remain current and effective. Employees and their representatives should be involved in the monitoring and evaluation process.

6.52               Employers should regularly monitor and evaluate the overall effectiveness of safe work procedures and other safety policies, guidelines and protocols.

6.53               Employers should also focus on specific issues such as:

a)             the effectiveness of equipment;

b)             the level of compliance with standard precautions and other procedures;

c)             the level of uptake of vaccination programs;

d)            the effectiveness of information and training programs;

e)             the sources and causes of exposures to blood and body fluids/substances or contaminated materials;

f)              appropriate review and investigation of exposure incidents; and

g)             the effectiveness of post-exposure follow-up (refer to paragraph 6.34).

RESPONSIBILITIES OF EMPLOYEES

Comply with risk control measures

6.54               Section 21 of the Act requires employees to take all reasonably practicable steps to ensure that they do not take any action, or make any omission, that creates or increases a risk to the health or safety of that employee or to any other person at or near the workplace.

6.55               Employees should assist the employer meet his/her duty of care. Therefore, employees should:

a)             comply with safe work procedures including appropriate use of PPE;

b)             actively participate in any training required;

c)             actively contribute to ongoing monitoring and evaluation of safe work procedures, vaccination protocols, post exposure guidelines and procedures;

d)            notify their employer of any condition which may impact on their ability to safely perform work activities and tasks without risk to either their own health and safety or that of others;

e)             inform the employer immediately of any exposure to blood or body fluids; and

f)              notify the employer of any existing or potential problem in achieving compliance with risk control measures.

 


part 7 – CONFINED SPACES

INTRODUCTION

7.1                   A confined space is an enclosed, or partly enclosed, space that is at atmospheric pressure while it is occupied and is not primarily intended, or designed, as a place of work. A confined space is associated with hazards such as restricted means of entry and exit, hazardous atmospheric contaminants, unsafe levels of oxygen and may have the potential to cause engulfment.    

7.2                   Confined spaces present specific hazards to employees and contractors that may not be readily apparent. These include:

a)             toxic gas accumulation;

b)             vapours and fumes;

c)             explosive levels of gases or dust;

d)            oxygen depletion;

e)             engulfment;

f)              slips or falls;

g)             flooding; and

h)             excessive noise.

7.3                   The risks posed by confined spaces are significant and the incidents related to the specific hazards have often resulted in fatalities, serious injuries or occupational diseases. Persons entering or working in confined spaces may be at risk of exposure to:

a)             suffocation;

b)             electrocution;

c)             acute or chronic poisoning due to fumes and vapours;

d)            dust related respiratory illnesses;

e)             burns;

f)              radiation related conditions;

g)             exposure to extreme climatic conditions; and

h)             sprains, strains, fractures resulting from slips, and falls.

7.4                   This Part of the Code must be read in conjunction with the introduction to the Code, including in relation to consultation. It should also be read in conjunction with Part 1 Risk Management. 1

PURPOSE

7.5                   This Part provides duty holders with practical guidance on ways to discharge their duty of care to employees and others in relation to confined spaces under the Act and Part 7 of the Safety Standards Regulations. 

SCOPE

7.6                   This Part is applicable to all work situations where entry to, or working in, a confined space is necessary.

7.7                   This Part does not apply to underground mining and tunnelling construction nor does it apply to work which is carried out at other than normal atmospheric pressure. 

DEFINITIONS

For the purpose of this Part, the definitions in the Safety Standards Regulations Part 20 and Part 7 Confined Spaces apply.

‘Atmospheric contaminants’– see Safety Standards Regulation 7.02

‘Confined space’ – see introduction and Safety Standards Regulation 7.02.

‘Entry to a confined space’ – entry to a confined space for the purposes of this Part means entry into a confined space by any person (whole of body), or entry to the confined space by any person that may involve the breathing of air wholly from within that confined space.

‘Hot work’ – means welding, thermal or oxygen cutting, heating, and other fire–producing or spark–producing activity that may increase the risk of fire or explosion.

‘Safe oxygen level’ – is a safe level of oxygen content in air that is between 19.5 percent and 23.5 percent (by volume) under normal atmospheric pressure.

Note: At pressures, significantly higher or lower than the normal atmospheric pressure, expert guidance should be sought.

RESPONSIBILITiES OF MANUFACTURERS and importers

Eliminate risks in the design

7.8                   Safety Standards Regulation 7.03 requires the manufacturer or importer of a confined space to ensure that, where practicable, the design eliminates the need for persons to enter the confined space. If this is not practicable and entry is required then:

a)             minimise the risks to persons entering or working in the confined space; and

b)             ensure that the confined space has safe means of entry and exit.

Ensure entry and exit is not affected

7.9                   Safety Standards Regulation 7.04 requires a manufacturer, installer or employer who modifies a confined space to ensure that any alteration to the confined space does not detrimentally affect the safe means of entry and exit. 

Note: When considering the design or modification of a confined space, duty holders should follow AS 2865:2001 Safe working in a confined space.

RESPONSIBILITiES OF EMPLOYERS

Identify hazards

7.10               Safety Standards Regulation 7.05 requires the employer to identify any confined spaces and the hazards associated with working in those confined spaces for any work proposal. This process involves the identification of all situations or events that have the potential to cause injury or illness. Employers should consider the prior use and activities conducted in the confined space such as use of atmospheric contaminants or hazardous substances in the area.

7.11               Some identified confined spaces include but are not limited to the examples below:

a)             silos or water tanks;

b)             pits, pipes and sewers;

c)             utility tunnels,

d)            shafts, wells, ducts and similar structures;

e)             the inside of a boiler (only accessible when the boiler is off);

f)              the inside of a fluid storage tank like compartment;

g)             small electrical vault;

h)             any ship board spaces entered through hatchways or access points; and

i)               any other similarly enclosed or partially enclosed structure where the space meets the definition of confined spaces.

Examples of confined spaces

      

7.12               There are many hazards related to confined spaces and employers should systematically determine the hazards including some of the following:

a)             unsafe oxygen levels. Oxygen deficiency may result from:

(i)            slow oxidation reactions of either organic or inorganic substances;

(ii)          rapid oxidation (combustion);

(iii)        the dilution of air with an inert gas;

(iv)        absorption by grains, chemicals or soils; or

(v)          physical activity; 

b)             oxygen excess which may be caused by a leaking oxygen supply fitting       such as in gas cutting or heating equipment;

c)             hazardous substances can form contaminants on surfaces or in the atmosphere, (contaminants may be in the form of solids, liquids, sludges, gases, vapours, fumes or particulates). The sources of atmospheric contaminants encountered may include:

(i)            the manufacturing process;

(ii)          the substance stored or its by-products (for example, disturbing decomposed organic material in a tank can liberate toxic substances such as hydrogen sulphide, while biological hazards such as bacteria, viruses or fungi may also be present);

(iii)        the operation performed in the confined space (for example, painting with coatings containing toxic or flammable substances and welding or brazing with metals capable of producing toxic fumes);

d)            flammable substances may result in explosion or fire or can form flammable atmospheres (such as methane) from a chemical reaction;

e)             engulfment is where material such as grain, sand, flour, dirt and fertilizer can completely immerse a person causing crush injuries or suffocation;

f)              other hazards can include:

(i)            mechanical hazards such as the operation of moving equipment (for example, being trapped by augers, crushed by rotating or moving parts such as conveyor belts);

(ii)          uncontrolled introduction of steam, water, or other gases or liquids;

(iii)        electrical hazards resulting in electrocution;

(iv)        noise which may be caused by hammering or the use of equipment within the confined space;

(v)          environmental hazards such as the external weather conditions (either high or low), internal body temperature which can increase as a result of the work process, poor ventilation or the supply of inappropriate clothing;

(vi)        radiation within a confined space (for example, from X-rays, radiation gauges, isotopes, lasers and welders);

(vii)      manual handling;

(viii)    biological hazards such as infections (for example, pneumonia and E-coli from sewers), allergic reactions (dermatitis) and insect bites; and

(ix)        falls, trips and slips which can result in sprains, strains and fractures.

Assess the risks

7.13               Safety Standards Regulation 7.05(2) requires that a risk assessment is undertaken before any work commences. Safety Standards Regulation 7.05(3) stipulates that the risk assessment must include:

a)             whether it is necessary to carry out the work in the confined space;

b)             the nature of the confined space;

c)             the work to be carried out;

d)            the method by which the work may be carried out inclusive of systems of work;

e)             the use of plant;

f)              any potentially hazardous conditions which may exist inside the confined space; and

g)             whether emergency and rescue procedures are required. 

7.14               Employers should ensure that a competent person with knowledge and experience of confined spaces conducts the risk assessment.

7.15               Safety Standards Regulation 7.05(2) requires that an employer must undertake a risk assessment when entry to a confined space is required. When undertaking a risk assessment for any confined space employers should consider:

a)             the type of confined space;

b)             the oxygen levels in the confined space;


c)             the number of persons occupying the space;

d)            the number of persons required outside the space to maintain equipment essential for the safety of those in the confined space ensuring that:

(i)            adequate communication is in place and observation of the persons within the confined space is possible; and 

(ii)          rescue procedures are prepared and understood;

e)             whether all proposed operations and work procedures have been developed and implemented with particular attention to those activities which may cause a change in the conditions in the confined space;

f)              the soundness and security of the overall structure; 

g)             whether there is adequate illumination for visibility;

h)             the identity and nature of the substances last contained in the confined space (the presence of atmospheric contaminants);

i)               the steps needed to bring the confined space to atmospheric pressure;

j)               the atmospheric testing to be undertaken and the parameters to be assessed before the entry permit is issued;

k)             whether all hazards which may be encountered have been identified (for example, entrapment);

l)               the competency, fitness and training of those persons involved in confined space work;

m)           whether there has been adequate instruction and training provided to those persons working in a confined space, particularly instruction regarding procedures that are unusual or non-typical including:

(i)            mechanical or other plant and equipment to be used;

(ii)          the use, availability and limitations of any personal protective equipment;

(iii)        the issuing of protective clothing and rescue equipment for all persons likely to enter the confined space;

(iv)        whether the sign, indicating that entry is permitted only after signing the entry permit, is in a manner and form appropriate to the persons at the workplace; and

n)             the need for additional protective measures, for example:

(i)            prohibition of hot work in adjacent areas;

(ii)          prohibition of smoking and naked flames within the confined space and, when appropriate, the adjacent areas;

(iii)        avoidance of contamination of breathing atmosphere from operations or sources outside the confined space, such as from the exhaust of an internal combustion engine;

(iv)        prohibition of movement of equipment such as forklifts in adjacent areas; or

(v)          prohibition of spark generating equipment, clothing and footwear;

o)             whether cleaning in the confined space is necessary;

p)             whether hot work is necessary; and

q)             any arrangements for rescue, first aid and resuscitation.

Generic risk assessments

7.16               A generic risk assessment may be appropriate where the employer is responsible for multiple, or similar, confined spaces for similar work and/or there are identical risk factors and it is not practicable to undertake a separate risk assessment for each confined space.

Review of risk assessments

7.17               The employer must ensure that a risk assessment is reviewed and revised as necessary for each identified confined space prior to entry into that confined space if that initial risk assessment is no longer deemed valid, according to Safety Standards Regulation 7.05(7).

7.18               The employer in consultation with employees and/or their representatives or health and safety representatives should determine the review and revision process for risk assessments. Risk assessments should be revised whenever a significant change in the risk is likely to result from:

a)             installation or modification of plant;

b)             a change in equipment operating conditions;

c)             a change in the atmosphere or working environment; or

d)            a change in working arrangements or procedures.

Implement risk control measures prior to entry

7.19               Employers must ensure that any risks associated with a confined space are eliminated and, if it is not reasonably practicable, then the risk must be minimized. Strict liability applies to employers in relation to risk management of a confined space (Safety Standards Regulation 7.06).

Note: The hierarchy of control pyramid detailed in Part 1 of this Code of Practice provides the employer with a list of risk control measures that they should implement in the workplace in an order of priority.

Ensure the confined space is isolated from any hazardous services

7.20               Prior to any person entering a confined space, the employer should ensure that where practicable, potentially hazardous services including process services normally connected to that confined space are isolated in order to prevent:

a)             the introduction of any materials, contaminants, agents or conditions harmful to employees and others occupying the confined space; and

b)             the activation or energizing in any way of equipment or services that may pose a risk to the health or safety of employees and others within the confined space.

7.21               Employers must ensure that procedures for the issue of an entry permit are followed prior to entry to a confined space (Safety Standards Regulation 7.08).

Note: Refer to paragraphs 7.45 – 7.49 of this Part on administrative controls in relation to the procedures for issue of entry permits.

Withdrawing a confined space from use

7.22               It may be necessary for employers to withdraw a confined space from use. When this occurs, all persons who may be involved with the repair, maintenance or operation of the confined space should be advised of the withdrawal from use of that confined space.

Establish safety precautions

7.23               The employers should ensure that positive steps are taken to achieve the following:

a)             prevention of accidental introduction of chemicals or materials through piping, ducts, vents, drains, conveyors, service pipes, or fire protection equipment into the confined space. Consideration should be given to hazards which may arise from the operation of some of the protective services in an occupied confined space (for example, fixed fire extinguishing system); 

b)             de-energisation and lockout. If lockout is not practicable, then tagout or both lockout and tagout of machinery, mixers, agitators or other equipment containing moving parts in the confined space should be used. This may require additional isolation, blocking or de-energising of machinery itself to guard against the release of stored energy (for example springs); and

c)             isolation of all other energy sources that may be external to, but still capable of adversely affecting, the confined space (for example, heating or refrigerating methods).

Prevent contamination

7.24               To prevent contamination, employers should isolate the confined space before entry is permitted. The method of isolation should be in accordance with the following or by an alternative method, which provides the equivalent or better security:

a)             removal of a valve, spool piece and expansion joint in piping leading to, or as close as practicable to, the confined space and blanking or capping the open end of the piping leading to the confined space. The blank or cap should be identified to indicate its purpose. Blanks or caps should be of a material that is compatible with the liquid, vapour or gas in the piping. The material should also have sufficient strength to withstand the maximum operating pressure, including surges, which can build up in the piping;

b)             insertion of a suitable full–pressure spade (blank) in piping between the flanges as close as practicable to the confined space. The full–pressure spade (blank) should be identified to indicate its purpose; or

c)             when neither of the methods described in items (a) and (b) is practicable, isolation by means of closing and locking or closing and tagging, or both, of at least two valves in the piping leading to the confined space. A drain valve between the two closed valves should be locked open or tagged open to atmosphere as part of this method.

 

 

Open end of pipe capped nearest valve closed, locked and tagged

 

Example of tag and lockout with the padlocks of three employees

 

This diagram shows the insertion of full-pressure spade or blank. The nearest valve closed, locked and tagged. The spade is also tagged to indicate purpose

 

De-energise equipment and devices in a confined space

7.25               Before entry is permitted to any confined space, employers should ensure that equipment with the capability to move or which consists of moving parts (for example, agitators and fans) is secured to prevent that movement. 

7.26               When there is equipment or devices with stored energy, such as hydraulic, pneumatic, electrical, chemical, mechanical, thermal or other types of energy sources, employers should check that they are reduced to a zero energy condition.

7.27               A person entering the confined space or a competent person authorised in writing by the employer should proceed to de-energise in the following manner:

a)             by placing a lock, tag, or both on the open circuit breaker or on the open isolating switch supplying electric power to equipment with hazardous moving parts. This indicates that a person is in a confined space and that such isolation should not be removed until all persons have left the confined space;

b)             when a lock is used, the key should be kept in the possession of the person entering the confined space or an authorised competent person. Spare keys should not be accessible except in cases of emergency;

c)             when the methods described in items (a) and (b) are not practicable, moveable components should be locked and switches, clutches or other controls should be tagged to indicate that a person is in a confined space and that the locks and tags should not be removed until all persons have left the confined space;

d)            when a power source cannot be controlled readily or effectively, a belt or other mechanical linkage should be disconnected and tagged to indicate that a person is in a confined space and that the belt or linkage should not be reconnected until all persons have left the confined space; and

e)             when more than one person is in the confined space, the isolating device should be either:

(i)            locked or tagged, or both, by each person entering the confined space; or

(ii)          locked or tagged, or both, by a competent person authorised in writing by the employer.

7.28               The effectiveness of any isolation method requires that a competent person, who has been authorised in writing by the employer, undertake the operation. Any person who proposes to enter the confined space should verify the employer authorisation.

7.29               Employers should ensure that locks, tags, blanks or other protective systems are removed only after the competent person, authorised in writing by the employer, ensures that work has been suspended or completed and all persons have vacated the confined space.

Establish cleaning and disposal procedures

7.30               Employers should ensure that where practicable, all substances, which are likely to present a hazard to persons who enter the confined space, are removed or cleaned prior to any entry to the confined space.

Note: Employers should consult the Australian Standard ‘AS 2865:1995Safe working in a confined space’ for more detailed information on how to clean confined spaces.

7.31               Employers should identify any potentially hazardous levels of contaminants that could be trapped in sludge, scale or other deposits, brickwork, behind loose linings, in liquid traps or in instrument fittings capable of release when disturbed or when heat is applied. Such material may lodge in joints in vessels or inbends of connecting pipes or other places where removal is difficult.

7.32               Employers should ensure that, wherever practicable, a confined space is cleaned without entry. When entry is necessary for the purposes of cleaning an entry permit is required.

Use of the purging process

7.33               Employers must comply with Safety Standards Regulation 7.06(4) when purging of contaminants from the confined space is required. Care should be taken when purging a confined space to preclude rupture or collapse of the enclosure due to pressure differentials.

7.34               When flammable contaminants are purged, employers should ensure that the purging and ventilation equipment is designed for use in confined spaces and that precautions are taken to eliminate all ignition sources such as:

a)             static electricity where the use of non-conductive materials and anti-static clothing is recommended; and

b)             exhaust locations where the purging process ensures that any contaminants removed from the confined space are exhausted to a location where they present no hazard.

Implement risk control measures when entering a confined space

Provide for effective ventilation in a confined space

7.35               Employers should ensure that confined spaces are well ventilated at all times.  This can be by natural, forced or mechanical means provided that the method used establishes and maintains a safe breathing atmosphere. The ventilation method should be continued for the duration of the occupancy and take into account the following:

a)             the operations which are likely to generate contaminants (mechanical ventilation equipment may not be adequate or sufficiently reliable to maintain a safe breathing atmosphere);

b)             whether the maintenance of a safe breathing atmosphere in the confined space is dependent on mechanical ventilation equipment, for example a fan. If this type of equipment is used it should:

(i)            be continuously monitored while the confined space is occupied; and

(ii)          have the controls (including any remote power supply) clearly identified and tagged to guard against unauthorised interference;

c)             whether the exhaust facilities are arranged to remove any contaminated air from the confined space and do not present a hazard to persons or equipment;

d)            that the combustion engines providing power for compressed air or any other use associated with the work being done in the confined space are  located so that their exhaust emissions cannot enter into the confined space or contaminate air being supplied to the confined space; and

e)             that pure oxygen or gas mixtures with oxygen in concentration greater than 21 percent by volume are not used to ventilate the confined space.

 

 

Example of mechanical ventilation

Ensure safe atmospheric conditions are maintained

7.36               Safety Standards Regulation 7.06(2) details the requirements for safe atmospheric conditions that the employer must follow before any person enters a confined space. Employers should follow the Exposure Standards for Atmospheric Contaminants in the Occupational Environment [NOHSC: 3008 (1991)] to ensure that the contaminants in a confined space are below the exposure levels required for safe entry to a confined space.

Note: Although exposure standards have been set for a large number of chemicals, these still represent only a small fraction of all chemicals.

7.37               When atmospheric contaminants in a confined space cannot be reduced to safe levels, employers must follow Safety Standards Regulation 7.07 and ensure that no person enters the confined space without appropriate Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) such as air supplied respiratory equipment.

Conduct atmospheric testing and evaluation

7.38               When conducting an evaluation of the atmosphere in a confined space, employers should ensure that a survey of other hazards is performed from outside the confined space before any entry occurs. The results of the atmospheric testing should be recorded on the entry permit. The atmosphere testing should include:

a)             the oxygen content;

b)             the airborne concentration of flammable contaminants; and

c)             the airborne concentration of potentially harmful contaminants. If detected, suitable PPE would include air-supplied respiratory protective equipment to be worn during entry and occupation of the confined space.

7.39               Safety Standards Regulation 7.06(3) requires an employer to conduct atmospheric testing and monitoring of a confined space that is consistent with the risk assessment and ensure that it is carried out in a manner that is consistent with the risk assessment.

7.40               Employers should, when it is considered necessary (for example, as indicated from the risk assessment or because of the potential for future release of contaminants), make arrangements to monitor or retest the atmosphere within the confined space at regular intervals.

7.41               Employers should only allow for an evaluation of more remote regions within the confined space once the area adjacent to the point of entry to the confined space has been proven acceptable for entry. Evaluation of these remote regions may need to be undertaken by persons wearing air respiratory protective equipment.

 

Evacuate or monitor when there are flammable contaminants

7.42               Safety Standards Regulation 7.09 requires an employer to evacuate or continuously monitor the confined space when the concentration of flammable contaminants in the atmospheres is between 5% and 10% of the Lower Explosive Limits (LEL).

7.43               Employers should use a continuous–monitoring flammable gas detector to monitor the concentration of flammable contaminants in the atmosphere whilst a person is in the confined space. The detector should be fitted with latching, visible and audible alarms, which should activate at a contaminant concentration of 10% or more of the LEL.

7.44               When the concentration of flammable contaminants in the atmosphere of a confined space is, or exceeds, 10% of the LEL, the employer must evacuate the confined space in accordance with Safety Standards Regulation 7.09(2).

Provide written approval for entry to a confined space

7.45               When there is a need to enter a confined space, employers must, subject to a review of any risk assessments undertaken for a confined space, provide written approval in the form of an entry permit prior to work in a confined space being carried out. The entry permit must specify any precautions or instructions necessary for safe entry to the confined space and the performance of the work, taking into consideration the hazards identified in the risk assessment (Safety Standards Regulation 7.08(1)).

7.46               Employers should consider the following issues when providing information on an entry permit to a confined space:

a)             the location, type and method of work to be undertaken;

b)             the hazards that may be encountered;

c)             any isolation checklists; 

d)            any atmospheric testing results as appropriate, for example:

(i)            oxygen levels;

(ii)          flammability or explosive levels;

(iii)        atmospheric contaminant levels;

(iv)        temperature and humidity; and

(v)          radiation levels;

e)             the continuing review of ventilation and atmospheric conditions:

(i)            working conditions, including awareness that conditions (physical or chemical) may change and may need repeated or continuous review; and

(ii)          the possibility of heat stress from task generated heat, ambient temperature or the effect of wearing protective clothing;

f)              the likely levels of noise within the confined space;

g)             the clothing and equipment (refer paragraphs 7.57-7.60) including:

(i)            the types of equipment and clothing required for the task;

(ii)          the need for respiratory protective device;

(iii)        the need for safety harness and line; and

(iv)        the need for emergency lighting (for example, a torch);

h)             means of communication (see paragraph 7.54);

i)               personnel including:

(i)            the number of persons to enter the confined space;

(ii)          stand-by personnel for communication and operation of essential equipment;

(iii)        personnel for rescue and first aid; and

(iv)        adequacy of personnel training and understanding of the hazards;

j)               other precautions including:

(i)            signposting or barricading (refer paragraphs 7.55-7.56);

(ii)          prohibition of smoking or naked flame within the confined space or surrounding area;

(iii)        communication between stand-by personnel and backup personnel; and

(iv)        appropriate instruction, supervision and risk assessment of work undertaken by contractors; and

k)             emergency precautions including:

(i)            emergency procedures established;

(ii)          provision and location of rescue equipment including emergency services;

(iii)        location of first aid equipment; and

(iv)        provision of fire fighting equipment.

7.47               The employer should ensure that the entry permit states the period of validity and that it is revalidated whenever it becomes evident that the duration of work will involve one of the following:

a)             a change in the person responsible for the direct control of the work in a confined space;

b)             a significant break in work continuity; or

c)             a significant change in atmosphere or the nature of the work to be performed.

7.48               The employer should record the name of each person entering a confined space and each person that is required for stand-by purposes.

7.49               The employer should ensure that the entry permit is displayed in a prominent place to facilitate signing and clearance. A copy of the entry permit should be held by the employer.

Provide a stand-by person

7.50               Safety Standards Regulation 7.10 requires that, before any person enters a confined space when a risk assessment has identified a risk to health and safety, the employer must provide at least one (1) stand-by person. The stand-by person must remain outside of the confined space at the time of entry into the confined space and for the duration of the work in the confined space.

7.51               Safety Standards Regulation 7.07(4) requires that when entry to a confined space is necessary before a risk assessment can be conducted, the employer must:

a)             ensure that there is at least one (1) stand-by person outside the confined space at the time of entry and for the time the confined space is occupied; and

b)             provide equipment that is readily accessible and appropriate to any hazard likely to be encountered.

7.52               When considering the risks involved, employers should provide a stand-by person in situations where:

a)             there may not be a safe oxygen level;

b)             atmospheric contaminants are present or may be present in concentrations above the exposure standards;

c)             there may be a risk of fire or explosion;

d)            there may be a risk of entrapment or engulfment;

e)             the work to be performed may generate a risk to health or safety; and

f)              equipment or conditions outside the confined space require control or monitoring to ensure the health and safety of persons in the confined space (for example ventilation, respirator air supply, vehicles and weather).

7.53               Employers should record the minimum number of stand-by persons required on the entry permit.

Develop effective communication

7.54               Employers should ensure that effective communication and, where practicable, observation between those in the confined space and the stand-by person(s) are capable of being constantly maintained. Communication can be achieved, dependent on the conditions existing in the confined space, in a number of ways including:

a)             voice;

b)             two way transmitters; 

c)             hand signals; or

d)            other appropriate means (for example, where visual or oral communication is not possible, a system of rope signals could be devised).

Use appropriate signs and barriers

7.55               Safety Standards Regulation 7.06(5) requires the employer to erect signs and barriers whilst there is work in or near a confined space which they have control over in order to prevent persons who are not involved in the work task from entering the area.

7.56               When considering the most appropriate signs and barriers to use, employers should ensure that they are:

a)             prominently displayed and written in plain English stating that a person should not enter the area;

b)             in positions that clearly identify or block the confined space area; and

c)             prevent persons from entering or falling into the confined space.

Provide suitable safety equipment

7.57               Safety Standards Regulation 7.07(5) requires that where the employer provides equipment it must be:

a)             selected and fitted to the person who is to use it; and

b)             maintained in a proper working order.

7.58               When considering suitable equipment employers should consider:

a)             personal protection;

b)             rescue;

c)             first aid; and

d)            fire suppression.

Provide respiratory devices

7.59               Employers should ensure that employees are trained in the use of suitable supplied air respiratory protective devices. These devices should be worn when:

a)             the results of the risk assessment or monitoring indicates that a safe atmosphere cannot be established or maintained; or

b)             the nature of the work procedure within the confined space is likely to degrade or contaminate the atmosphere in the confined space (for example, hot work, painting or removal of sludge).

7.60               Employers should ensure that they follow the requirements of AS/NZS 1715:1994Selection, use and maintenance of respiratory protective devices to determine:

a)             the source of breathing air for any suitable supplied air respiratory protective devices; and

b)             specific details on how respiratory protective devices should be selected fitted, used, stored, maintained and inspected.

Provide safety harnesses

7.61               Employers should ensure that persons entering or working in a confined space are trained in the use of safety harnesses, safety lines or rescue lines when:

a)             there is a risk of falling during ascent or descent; or

b)             rescue by a direct route either vertical or horizontal is practicable.

7.62               It is not always desirable to specify the use of a safety harness, safety line or rescue line as this may be impracticable. When considering specifying the wearing of such equipment, employers should exercise care to ensure that such equipment would not introduce a hazard or unnecessarily hinder free movement within a confined space. In the event of free movement, being hindered, alternative plans should be arranged for example, a rescue and fall arrest system.

7.63               When selecting the most appropriate type of safety harness, safety line or rescue line, employers should take into account the possible hazards to any rescue arrangements involved.

Ensure safe use of electrical equipment

7.64               Employers should ensure that all electrical equipment used in a confined space that is connected to an external supply complies with all the provisions of Part 10 Electricity of the Safety Standards Regulations.

7.65               Where portable electrical equipment is used, employers should ensure that it is:

a)             connected, individually or collectively, to an earth free, extra low voltage supply from an isolating transformer(s) with the transformer(s) being located outside the confined space;

b)             protected through a residual current device which is located outside of the confined space;

c)             air-driven; and

d)            fitted with a flexible supply cable of a heavy-duty type. The cables should be suspended or guarded to minimize accidental damage.

Establish emergency and rescue procedures

7.66               When planning rescue procedures Safety Standards Regulation 7.10(2) requires employers to ensure that openings and exits are of adequate size to allow the rescue of all persons who may enter the confined space.

7.67               The employer must have in place appropriate rescue and first aid procedures and provisions that are planned (see Part 2 First Aid of this Code), established and rehearsed in accordance with Safety Standards Regulation 7.10(3).

7.68               Employers should ensure that all persons who may be involved in any rescues from confined spaces are aware of the rescue procedures and that the rescue procedures are well planned and well rehearsed. 

Note: Rescue procedures are essential and must be followed by all persons at all times, including any provision(s) for contacting emergency services. 

Provide education and training

7.69               Training of persons undertaking work in confined spaces or who are involved with rescue and emergency procedures associated with confined spaces should be undertaken in accordance with Safety Standards Regulation 7.11.

7.70               Employers should give consideration to:

a)             the type and level of training required; 

b)             the skills of the trainer; and

c)             the contents of the course.

7.71               Employers should ensure that induction and refresher training is carried out at regular intervals, and that it is conducted as close as practicable in time to commencing work in the confined space. The training must be relevant to the specific task and/or procedure to be undertaken (Safety Standards Regulation 7.11).

7.72               When considering who should conduct training, employers should use qualified persons who have knowledge and experience in all aspects of confined space entry, hazard recognition, use of safety equipment and the methods of rescue.

7.73               The employer should continue with training until satisfied that each person has been trained to an acceptable standard of competency. Details of this training should be recorded, for example, in a personnel file.

7.74               All persons who may be involved with rescues in a confined space should be trained in first aid to the appropriate level based on the risk assessment of the work being undertaken.

7.75               While the emphasis placed on different aspects of risk management and the specific target group will differ from situation to situation, training for all groups should include the following:

a)             the provisions of the relevant regulations;

b)             the provisions of this Part which are directly relevant to their work;

c)             physical, chemical and biological hazards relating to work in or near confined spaces in general and the particular confined space;

d)            established healthy and safe work practices in the workplace, including lockout and isolation procedures;

e)             emergency procedures in the workplace and confined spaces, including rescue drills and the use of safety equipment;

f)              selection, distribution, use, fit and maintenance of personal protective equipment;

g)             hazard identification and risk assessment;

h)             emergency entry and exit procedures;

i)               communication procedures;

j)               recognition of any hazards specific to the activity;

k)             first aid and cardio-pulmonary resuscitation; and

l)               fire protection and suppression.

7.76               Employers should evaluate and review education and training programs in consultation with employees or their representatives to ensure that the content of the training programs is clearly understood and relevant to all employees. Evaluation will determine if the overall objectives of the training programs have been achieved as well as whether further training is required.

Establish record keeping procedures for training and entry permits

7.77               Safety Standards Regulation 7.12(1) requires the employer to retain a written risk assessment for a period of 5 years.

7.78               Safety Standards Regulations 7.12(3) and (4) require the employer to record the training that is provided to the employee during the period of employment and the employer must make those records available on request to:

a)             the employee to whom the record relates; or

b)             an investigator.

7.79               Employers should ensure that any records include:

a)             the names of employees receiving training and dates of attendance;

b)             the title of the training course and an outline of its contents; 

c)             the duration of training; 

d)            the names, qualifications and experience of the person providing the training; and

e)             whether the training program is registered or accredited by any statutory body, government department, educational institution or other association or organisation.

7.80               The employer should retain entry permits for at least 3 months after the permit has been issued.

responsibilities of employees

7.81               Employees should assist employers comply with their obligations to provide a safe and healthy workplace and comply with safety policies and procedures concerning work in a confined space.  

 

 


part 8 – INDOOR AIR QUALITY

INTRODUCTION

8.1                   Indoor workplaces usually rely on mechanical ventilation as well as circulating air. The mechanical ventilation system generally incorporates air conditioning through an integrated air heating and/or air cooling system.

8.2                   Poor management of an air handling system can expose employees as well as the public, including the most vulnerable members of the community, to a range of contaminants and toxins such as:

a)             volatile organic compounds (VOCs);

b)             gases from combustion (carbon monoxide, nitrous and sulphurous oxides, ozone, etc);

c)             particulate matter (asbestos, indoor combustion soot, metals, dust, etc); and

d)            biological pollutants (for example, moulds and fungi, dust mites, bacteria, viruses, pollens).

8.3                   An inadequate or poorly maintained air handling system can diffuse unpleasant odours, unsafe levels of gases, chemicals and particulate matter throughout a building. The consequence of inhaling contaminated air is that it may cause an increase in respiratory infections and allergic reactions. The Legionella Pneumophilia Bacterium (Legionnaire's disease) has been directly linked to stagnant water cooling towers and is the cause of a respiratory infection that is a serious life threatening illness. 

8.4                   This Part of the Code must be read in conjunction with the introduction to the Code, including in relation to consultation. It should also be read in conjunction with Part 1 Risk Management. 1

PURPOSE

8.5                   Section 16 of the Act requires that employers protect the health and safety of employees, contractors at work and others at or near the workplace. To comply with this duty of care, employers should, as far as is reasonably practicable, ensure that there is an effective air handling system, which provides clean and safe air in the workplace.

8.6                   This Part aims to provide practical guidance to employers on how to comply with the duty of care with regard to the provision of indoor air that is clean and without risk to the health and safety of employees and others.

SCOPE

8.7                   This Part applies to all workplaces covered by the Act and is intended to provide practical guidance to the employer on managing indoor air quality as it relates to common indoor air pollutants.

8.8                   This duty of care exists regardless of whether the air handling system is under the control of the employer or whether the indoor air is a building service provided under a tenancy arrangement.

8.9                   This Part is not intended to replace the need for employers to seek advice and assistance from competent persons when addressing specific air quality issues and hazards.

8.10               This Part does not provide guidance on the thermal comfort of indoor air.

DEFINITIONS

Air-handling system’ – means a system for the purpose of directing air in a controlled manner to or from specific enclosures by means of air-handling plant, ducts, plenums, air-distribution devices, ventilation devices and automatic controls.

 ‘Legionnaire’s disease’ – Legionella Pneumophilia is a bacterium, which invades the respiratory system presenting initially like Influenza. However, the condition escalates into a multi organ infection, which, in those most            vulnerable, can be fatal.

‘Water cooling systems’ – means the cooling systems to regulate thermal comfort.

RESPONSIBILITIES OF MANUFACTURERS, SUPPLIERS AND ERECTORS/INSTALLERS

Ensure the air-handling system is designed and installed correctly

8.11               Air-handling systems, which are part of a building, are not usually considered plant as defined in the Safety Standards Regulations and the Act. However, in some instances an air-handling system or components may qualify as plant if, for example, it is installed subsequent to a building being constructed or as a ‘stand alone’ component to an existing building.

8.12               Manufacturers, suppliers and installers should ensure that the air-handling systems are designed and installed to meet the minimum standard for control of mechanical ventilation. This should be in accordance with the dilution index in the Australian Standards: AS1668.2:2002 The use of ventilation and air conditioning in buildings – Part 2:Ventilation design for indoor air contamination control, and for  Microbial control, by following AS/NZS 3666.1:2002 Air-handling and water systems of buildings – Microbial control – Part 1: Design, installation and commissioning.

RESPONSIBILITiES OF EMPLOYERS WITH CONTROL OF THE AIR handling SYSTEM

8.13               When the employer also has control of the air-handling system (that is, the owner/operator rather than receiving indoor air as part of a tenancy), a duty of care applies under Section 16 of the Act. This duty relates to the maintenance of the indoor air quality free from hazards, to ensure the health and safety of employees and contractors at work and others in the workplace.

8.14               Important factors for the control of contaminants in indoor air are:

a)             the design and installation of the air-handling system; and

b)             the ongoing operation, maintenance and testing of the system.

8.15               If an air-handling system or system component is within the definition of plant under the Act, then Part 4 Plant of the Safety Standards Regulations applies. This part details specific responsibilities that an employer must follow with respect to safe design, manufacture, testing, installation, use, maintenance, repair and disposal of plant.

Identify hazards

8.16               Employers should consider the following issues when identifying any hazards for air-handling systems:

a)             the effectiveness and suitability of the air-handling system;

b)             the occupancy rates for the building;

c)             the outdoor air quality;

d)            the location of outdoor air intakes to minimise contamination, including from fumes and drift from cooling towers (for example, Legionella bacteria and vehicle exhaust fumes);

e)             the filtration of both outdoor and recycled air to remove particulate contaminants;

f)              the minimum outdoor air requirements and indoor airflows to control gases from combustion, people and products (for example, carbon monoxide, nitrous and sulphurous oxides and ozone);

g)             the exhaust arrangements to manage specific contaminants;

h)             the microbes found in building environments including viruses, fungi and bacteria;

i)               the more serious bacteria (Legionella) associated with air handling and water systems (cooling towers);

j)               the location and design of components of the air system for microbial control;

k)             the process for preventing accumulation of moisture and the nutrients necessary for bacteria growth in and around components of the air system;

l)               the water treatment systems for microbial control; and

m)           the design considerations to facilitate maintenance.

Assess the risks

8.17               Employers should ensure that a risk assessment is conducted which gives consideration to the risks specific to cooling towers used for air conditioning which include:

a)             stagnant water; 

b)             nutrient availability; 

c)             poor water quality;

d)            deficiencies in the cooling system; and

e)             location of and access to the cooling tower system.

Implement risk control measures

Develop effective procedures for the operation, maintenance and testing of the air – handling system.

8.18               When considering the procedures for the operation, maintenance and testing of air-handling water systems, employers should follow:

a)             AS/NZS 3666.2:2002 Air-handling and water systems of buildings – Microbial control – Part 2: Operation and maintenance. This standard specifies the minimum requirements for the operation and maintenance of air-handling and water systems of buildings for the purpose of microbial control; and 

b)             AS/NZS 3666.3:2000 Air-handling and water systems of buildings – Microbial control – Part 3: Performancebased maintenance of cooling systems. This standard provides a performance based approach to the maintenance of cooling water systems for the control of microorganisms including Legionella within such systems.

8.19               Employers should take into consideration the following points when developing procedures for the air-handling system with cooling facilities:

a)             the process for conducting routine inspections;

b)             risk factors in water cooling systems to be assessed and managed for microbial control:

(i)            monthly inspections and treatment of the water cooling system;

(ii)          any safety practices required during maintenance and cleaning including the use of personal protective equipment;

c)             cleaning schedules for system components by competent persons:

(i)            monthly inspections and (at least) six monthly cleaning of cooling towers;

(ii)          monthly cooling water samples and the testing procedures; 

d)            operation and maintenance manuals;

e)             record keeping procedures;

f)              procedures for recommissioning the water cooling system for seasonal use; and

g)             the process for disinfecting or decontaminating and retesting following unsatisfactory test results.

Conduct air-handling system quality tests

8.20               Employers should conduct monthly water sampling and testing of the air-handling system to identify any contaminants that may affect the health and safety of their employees, contractors at work or others at or near the workplace.

8.21               When water cooling system test results show a heterotrophic micro-organism (for example, general bacteria) count of >100,000cfu/ml or a Legionella count >10cfu/ml, employers should review, investigate and take immediate remedial action in accordance with procedures detailed in AS/NZS 3666.3:2000 – Air-handling and water systems of buildings Microbial control – Part 3: Performance–based maintenance of cooling systems.

8.22               Heterotrophic micro-organism counts of >100,000cfu/ml or Legionella counts of >1,000cfu/ml in three (3) consecutive readings no more than one week apart and following the application of appropriate treatment protocols should be notified to Comcare as a dangerous occurrence in accordance with section 68 of the Act. These readings may also require notification to local health authorities depending on local State or Territory requirements. 

Note: These levels are for guidance. At all times, maintenance should aim to achieve zero (<10cfu/ml) levels for Legionella.

Establish accurate and up to date record procedures

8.23               Employers should ensure that accurate and up to date records are kept including:

a)             all tests conducted and the results on the air handling system; 

b)             any remedial action taken; 

c)             the details of the competent person engaged to work on the air handling system; and

d)            the scheduling of regular testing and maintenance procedures.

RESPONSIBILITIES OF EMPLOYERS WITHOUT CONTROL OF THE AIR HANDLING SYSTEM

8.24               An employer, whether the controller of the air system or not, has a duty of care under section 16 of the Act to do all that is reasonably practicable to ensure that the indoor air quality in the workplace is clean and without risk to the health and safety of employees and others.

8.25               This could mean that the employer adopts a risk management approach in managing air quality in the workplace. For example, the tenant should seek confirmation that:

a)             the air-handling system design complies with the relevant Australian Standards; 

b)             that the controller of the air-handling system will make available documentation showing that routine maintenance and testing is conducted to identify and control air pollutants generated in the workplace. This information should indicate:

(i)            that all air pollutants generated within the workplace are controlled; and

(ii)          that there is an adequate response to air quality issues.

Establish tenancy agreements and procedures for the air handling system

8.26               Employers should include clear and detailed provisions for the air handling system when considering any tenancy agreement. The provisions in the lease agreement should ensure that:

a)             the air handling controller provides the employer with written reports for any maintenance undertaken and/or results of any tests conducted;

b)             remedial action is undertaken for hazards identified by the employer or as a result of any tests conducted; and

c)             immediate provision of information to Comcare or a relevant State or Territory health authority of any notifiable quantities of heterotrophic microorganisms or Legionella detected. 

 

Develop procedures within the agreement for maintenance and testing

8.27               As part of the tenancy agreement, employers should monitor the maintenance and testing of the air-handling system to ensure its effectiveness. This can be by:

a)             regular consultation with the air-handling system controller on system operation and maintenance; and

b)             ensuring regular reports of microbial testing and the dosing regime for the cooling towers are supplied and assessed.

Control air pollutants

8.28               A properly designed, installed and operating air-handling system, in combination with an effective workplace-cleaning regime, is generally sufficient to maintain air quality in the office environment. Some housekeeping controls may assist by controlling:

a)             common odours from habitation and office processes;

b)             particulate matter (for example, dust generated by people and general office work);

c)             the low levels of common biological pollutants (for example, pollens); and

d)            the low levels of chemical pollutants generally found in an office environment (for example, volatile organic compounds emanating from furniture and floor coverings and ozone from photocopiers).

8.29               When workplace activities generate air pollutants, the employer should as far as is reasonably practicable, contain them within safe levels.  Extraction ventilation, fume cupboards, chemical filters and dust collectors for machinery are commonly used control measures where elimination is impractical.

Respond to air quality issues

8.30               The employer should identify and establish effective responses to air quality issues in the workplace whether these originate from within the workplace or from the air-handling system. This may include:

a)             a failure in part or all of the air-handling system which may affect thermal comfort (for example, air-conditioning);

b)             odours suggesting a possible health and safety risk from air quality;

c)             fumes entering the air system from vehicle emissions or other combustion sources;

d)            chemical or dust spills in the workplace;

e)             Legionella bacteria detected in water cooling tower tests; and

f)              suspected biological attack (for example, powder identified in mail).

8.31               Employer responses to air quality issues should be in line with the assessed level of risk to employees and contractors at the workplace and others at or near the workplace.  Responses should include consultation and cooperation with the air-handling system controller to address air-handling system related issues including:

a)             investigation of the issue in conjunction with the air handling system controller to determine the cause of any unsatisfactory air quality;

b)             timely remedial actions to address air quality issues by the air handling system controller;

c)             testing for suspected air pollutants;

d)            emergency evacuation of the workplace where an immediate health and safety risk may be present; and

e)             procedures for a suspected biological attack.

RESPONSIBILITIES OF EMPLOYEES

8.32               Employees should comply with any procedures established by the employer, or the air-handling system controller, to ensure that the quality of the indoor air is maintained.

8.33               Where an employee notices, or suspects, a potential risk associated with the indoor air quality, they should notify the employer immediately. This may include, but is not limited to:

a)             unusual odours;

b)             lack of air flow;

c)             smoke or fumes; and

d)            spills of hazardous substances.

 

 


part 9 – Safety in Laboratories

INTRODUCTION

9.1                   Modern laboratories are inherently dangerous workplaces because of the nature of the activities undertaken which are hazardous, often unique, varied and frequently changing. The hazards and hazardous activities associated with laboratories can expose employees, students and the public to potentially dangerous situations such as:

a)             hazardous micro-organisms;

b)             chemical spills;

c)             toxic gases; and

d)            hazardous substances.

9.2                   People working in laboratories will deal with multiple hazards as a part of their normal work activities. Laboratories are often designed to enclose or isolate areas within the workplace, specialised areas, which can increase the risk of an adverse event. Some examples of high-risk areas include:

a)             confined spaces;

b)             high level containment laboratories; and

c)             bio-security areas.

9.3                   Incidents in laboratories may compromise the health and safety of employees and others resulting in death, injury or illness of an acute or chronic nature. The type of hazard determines the kinds of injuries and illnesses, which may develop. The injury or illness may become symptomatic after a short or long period of exposure, after brief contact with the hazard or after years of working in the laboratory. 

9.4                   The consequence of poor risk management systems, when the risks are not controlled or when there is a failure to adhere to safety policies, procedures and processes, is the possibility of adversely affecting the wider community. The impact may be contained to the local environment, where contamination extends to other areas within the workplace or the contamination may broaden to the surrounding community with catastrophic environmental damage the result.   

9.5                   This Part of the Code must be read in conjunction with the introduction to the Code, including in relation to consultation. It should also be read in conjunction with Part 1 Risk Management. 1

PURPOSE

9.6                   The purpose of this Part is to provide practical guidance to employers under the Act on ways to protect the health and safety of employees and other persons in the laboratories and associated work areas.

SCOPE

9.7                   This Part applies to all persons covered under the Act who are, or may be required to work, in or near a laboratory or an associated workplace.

9.8                   This Part should be read in conjunction with Part 6 Hazardous Substances, Part 8 Storage and Handling of Dangerous Goods and Part 9 Major Hazard Facilities of the Safety Standards Regulations. 

DEFINITIONS

Refer to the Safety Standards Regulations Part 6 Hazardous Substances, Part 8 Storage and Handling of Dangerous Goods and Part 20 for definitions in relation to laboratories. 

‘Laboratory’ – includes any building or part of a building used, or intended to be used, for scientific or technical work, including research, quality control, testing, teaching or analysis. Such work may involve the use of chemicals (including dangerous goods and hazardous substances), pathogens and radiation, or processes including electrical or mechanical work. The laboratory includes other parts of the workplace such as instrument and preparation areas, laboratory stores and any offices attached or adjacent to the laboratory.

‘Competent laboratory’ – means a laboratory with sufficient equipment, personnel with expertise to carry out the determinations according to the relevant Australian Standards or by an alternative method of equivalent accuracy and precision. A competent laboratory is recognised and promoted as a competent facility able to perform specific types of testing, measurement, inspection and calibration, is accredited by the National Association of Testing Authorities (NATA) and participates in an inter-laboratory quality control scheme as recommended.

‘MSDS’ – is a very widely used abbreviation for Material Safety Data Sheet. A MSDS contains details of the hazards associated with a chemical and gives information on its safe use.

‘Toxic effect’ – means the property of an agent producing damage to an organism. This usually refers to functional (systemic) damage but may be developmental in respect of tissue and skeleton in the case of an embryo. The damage may be permanent or transient.

RESPONSIBILITiES OF EMPLOYERs

Ensure appropriate design and construction

9.9                   When designing laboratories and installing equipment in laboratories employers should ensure that the design and construction are in accordance with the AS/NZS 2982.1:1997 – Laboratory design and construction – Part 1:General requirements.

9.10               This Australian Standard specifies requirements for the design and construction of laboratories. It covers aspects of laboratory building design and construction as they relate to the safety of occupants. It also addresses the specific construction requirements intended to minimize the hazards associated with building any laboratory. This Australian Standard also provides design advice for the following types of laboratories:

a)             biological;

b)             radiological;

c)             secondary schools; and

d)            tertiary facilities.

Identify hazards

9.11               Employers should refer to Part 1 of this Code of Practice for practical guidance on identifying hazards in the workplace. Hazards may include, but are not limited to:

a)             chemicals spills;

b)             contamination from a hazardous substance;

c)             radiation exposure;

d)            lack of sufficient oxygen in the laboratory; and

e)             exposure to airborne, physical, or biological hazards.

Assess the risks

9.12               Employers should conduct a risk assessment for any identified hazards in a laboratory according to the applicable Safety Standards Regulations and the general requirements for risk management in Part 1 and Part 11 and Part 12 of this Code for dangerous goods and hazardous substances. 

9.13               Employers should ensure that reviews of any risk assessments are undertaken when:

a)             new hazards are identified in the laboratory;

b)             there is a significant change to any work to which the risk assessment applies;

c)             where the risk controls are no longer adequate; and

d)            at regular intervals as agreed in consultation with employees and/or their representatives.

Implement risk control measures

9.14               Employers must refer to Part 6 – Hazardous Substances and Part 8 – Storage and Handling of Dangerous Goods of the Safety Standards Regulations for the mandatory requirements for dangerous goods and hazardous substances.

9.15               Employers should select the most appropriate method of controlling any risks in the laboratory by following the hierarchy of controls as detailed in risk management Part 1 of this Code. Consideration should be given to the unique nature of the hazards in the laboratory and the level of risk control applied should be appropriate to the level of assessed risk.

Control chemical risks

9.16               Employers should control risks associated with laboratory chemicals. When selecting risk control measures employers should consider:

a)             AS/NZS 2243.2:2006 – Safety in laboratories Chemical aspects, which sets out requirements and recommended procedures for safe working practices in the chemical laboratory. It includes procedures for handling flammable, toxic, unstable and highly reactive chemicals and makes special references to the handling of compressed and liquefied gases. This part also includes information on hazards associated with working in the chemical laboratory; and

b)             AS/NZS 2243.10:2004 – Safety in laboratoriesStorage of chemicals. This standard sets out the requirements for the safe storage of chemicals in packages when they are stored inside a laboratory, in associated storerooms or spaces that are support areas to the laboratory and when opening packages of chemicals. This part of the standard provides extensive information on the storage of specific chemicals.

Control biological risks

9.17               Employers should control the risks associated with biological hazards. When selecting control measures, employers should consider the AS/NZS 2243.3:2002 – Safety in laboratories – Microbiological aspects and containment facilities. This standard sets out the requirements, responsibilities and general guidelines relating to safety in laboratories where microorganisms and prions are handled. This part of the standard applies to laboratories (including animal, plant and invertebrate containment facilities) where microbiological work such as research, teaching, diagnosis, quality control or regulatory analysis is undertaken. Particular attention should be paid to the requirements for cleaning working areas and types of disinfectants and antiseptics used. This part should be read in conjunction with Australian Standard AS/NZS 2243.1: 2005 – Safety in laboratories – Planning and operational aspects.

Control radiation risks

9.18               Employers should control risks associated with radiation. When selecting control measures employers must consider the Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Act 1998 and supporting regulations and codes of practice; and should refer to the Australian Standards below for further information:

a)             AS 2243.4:1998Safety in laboratories – Ionizing radiations, sets out the precautions required to prevent unnecessary exposure of persons using ionizing radiations in laboratories and other persons who could be harmed by accidental or planned releases of radioactive substances. This part of the standard also looks at the nature of hazards related to ionizing radiations, laboratory design requirements and other essential radiation protection information; and

b)             AS/NZS 2243.5:2004Safety in laboratories – Non-ionizing radiations – Electromagnetic, sound and ultrasound provides information on non-ionizing radiations and the associated hazards encountered in laboratories. This part of the standard also specifies requirements and gives recommendations on other hazards associated with the use. The overall objective is to promote safe work practices when using non-ionizing radiations in order to prevent unnecessary exposure of persons working in laboratories containing non-ionizing radiation sources.

Control mechanical risks

9.19               Employers should control risks associated with mechanical hazards. When selecting control measures, employers should consider the AS 2243.6:1990Safety in laboratories – Mechanical aspects. The AS 2243.6:1990 sets out the general principles and requirements of safe working practice relevant to mechanical operations performed in laboratories and details potential mechanical hazards. This part of the standard also covers safe working practices relevant to the use of compressed gas cylinders and cryogenic substances.

Control electrical risks

9.20               Employers should control risks associated with electricity. When selecting control measures employers must consider:

a)             Part 10 – Electricity of the Safety Standards Regulations and should consider;

b)             AS 2243.7:1991Safety in laboratories – Electrical aspects. This standard provides the general principles for the use of electrical equipment in all types of laboratories. This part of the standard covers equipment that may be used in the laboratory including office equipment such as word processors, photocopiers and typewriters. This part does not include the installation of electrical fittings during construction of the laboratory.

Control risks associated with fumes

9.21               Employers should control risks associated with fumes. When selecting control measures employers should consider:

a)             AS/NZS 2243.8:2006Safety in laboratories – Fume cupboards. This standard sets out safety requirements for fume cupboards and the methods of testing to be used when determining their performance. This part also describes typical materials used in the construction of fume cupboards and includes recommendations and requirements on material suitability. Fume cupboards covered by this part of the standard are intended primarily for use in general chemical operations but may be used for special applications. Recirculation fume cabinets are not included in this part of the standard; and

b)             AS/NZS 2243.9:2003Safety in laboratories – Recirculation fume cupboards. This standard sets out safety requirements and gives recommendations for the design, manufacture, use and maintenance of recirculating fume cabinets, sometimes incorrectly referred to as ‘ductless fume cupboards’, and the test methods to determine their performance. The objective of this part of the standard is to provide manufacturers of recirculating fume cabinets with design and performance requirements for the cabinets and their filtration systems. It also provides users with requirements and recommendations for selection, use and maintenance in order to prevent users selecting or using inappropriate equipment.

Provide Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

9.22               PPE may be required to support other preventative measures. Employers should not regard PPE as a substitute for more effective control measures. PPE should only be used in conjunction with other more effective risk control measures.

9.23               Employers should refer to the Safety Standards Regulations Part 6 Hazardous Substances and to paragraphs 12.44–12.48 of this Code for provision and use of PPE.

 

 

Develop written safety procedures for the laboratory

9.24               Employers should develop and maintain effective and unambiguous procedures for working in the laboratory. These written procedures should include:

a)             the responsibilities and interrelationship of all personnel involved with health and safety in the laboratory; 

b)             risk assessment reviews;

c)             inspections and testing of laboratory equipment;

d)            the delivery, handling, storage and use of any hazardous material;

e)             safe handling procedures for all hazardous substances including procedures to minimize contamination and infection for example, hand washing and the use of any PPE;

f)              any requirements detailed on the MSDS;

g)             any security arrangements;

h)             all training arrangements; and

i)               the emergency and evacuation procedures.

Provide training

9.25               The employer should arrange for training for all employees or any other person who requires access to a laboratory. This training should include:

a)             the laboratory health and safety procedures (safety rules/conduct);

b)             techniques required to complete daily tasks;

c)             specific hazards relating to daily tasks;

d)            workplace hygiene and housekeeping methods;

e)             emergency procedures;

f)              first aid and accident/injury/illness reporting; and

g)             use and storage of PPE.

9.26               Employers should ensure that they review the training program, including induction and refresher courses, at least once a year or each time there is change:

a)             in any hazard information available;

b)             in a work practice;

c)             in a control measure; and

d)            with the employee’s duties where he/she is assigned:

i)               a new task; or

ii)             a new work area.

9.27               Employers should record all training and ensure that it includes:

a)             the names of all persons receiving training;

b)             the date of attendance at any training program;

c)             an outline of the course content;

d)            the names of any person providing the training and where applicable;

e)             the accreditation certificate number for each person.

Implement appropriate emergency and rescue procedures

9.28               Employers should develop emergency procedures in line with the specific risks associated with the laboratory. Each laboratory will require different emergency and evacuation procedures depending on the:

a)             size and layout of the laboratory;

b)             type of work being undertaken;

c)             hazards and procedures for dealing with dangerous and hazardous materials; and

d)            the nature and extent of the emergency.

9.29               When developing emergency and rescue procedures employers should ensure that:

a)             there are employees trained to deal with an emergency, including all evacuation procedures and the use of any PPE (for example, protective clothing or enclosed suits containing personal oxygen);

b)             all employees are trained in evacuation procedures including the need (where required) to comply with any containment procedures;

c)             first aid officers are appointed and trained to deal with any injuries; and

d)            emergency authorities (for example, the police, fire or ambulance) have been informed of any specific hazards or difficulties, which could be encountered during any rescue efforts.

responsibilities of employees

9.30               Employees must assist employers comply with the Act and the requirements of the Safety Standards Regulations with regard to hazardous substances and dangerous goods including by complying with policies and safe work procedures.

9.31                Employees should use and store the PPE provided by the employer according to the manufacturers’ instructions and any training provided.

9.32               Employees should report to their supervisors any PPE that is not fitted correctly and any damage to the PPE provided.


part 10 – ASBESTOS IN SITU

Under development

 

 


part 11 – STORAGE AND HANDLING OF DANGEROUS GOODS

INTRODUCTION

11.1               Dangerous goods are substances that may be hazardous to people, property or the environment and may cause accidents with significant consequences. Dangerous goods may be corrosive, flammable, explosive, oxidising or may be reactive with water.

11.2               Part 8 of the Safety Standards Regulations outlines the specific duties of manufacturers, suppliers, employers and operators of pipelines in relation to the storage and handling of dangerous goods or explosives in the workplace. Safety Standards Regulation 8.04(3) defines dangerous goods as goods that:

a)             are named in column 2 of Appendix 2 to the ADG Code;

b)             meet the criteria in Part 2 of the ADG Code;

c)             are determined by a relevant Competent Authority to be dangerous goods;

d)            are C1 combustible liquids;

e)             are C2 combustible liquids, if stored and handled with fire risk dangerous 

          goods (within the meaning of Safety Standards Regulation 8.04(4)); or

f)              goods that are too dangerous to be transported.

11.3               Dangerous goods are classified according to their immediate physical or chemical properties such as flammability, explosion, corrosion and toxicity that may affect life, health, property or the environment. Hazardous substances are classified according to their immediate or long–term health effects.

11.4               Dangerous goods and hazardous substances are covered by separate parts of the Safety Standards Regulations because of the different risks and control measures involved.  Part 6 of the Safety Standards Regulations covers Hazardous Substances whilst Part 8 covers Storage and Handling of Dangerous Goods.

11.5               Many hazardous substances are also classified as dangerous goods and employers are required to comply with both Parts of the Safety Standards Regulations.

11.6               This Part of the Code must be read in conjunction with the introduction to the Code, including in relation to consultation. It should also be read in conjunction with Part 1 Risk Management. 1

PURPOSE

11.7               The purpose of this Part is to provide practical guidance to employers on how to comply with the Safety Standards Regulations Part 8 Storage and Handling of Dangerous Goods.

11.8               This Part endeavours to suggest a course of action that will lead to the achievement of the health and safety standards set by the Safety Standards Regulations for employees at work and other persons at or near the workplace.

SCOPE

11.9               This Part applies to employers, manufacturers, suppliers and employees covered by the Act and the Safety Standards Regulations where dangerous goods are stored or handled in places of work.

11.10           Safety Standards Regulation 8.05 outlines the different classes of dangerous goods. Table 1 below summarises the dangerous goods covered by the Safety Standards Regulations and this Part.

11.11           Three classes of goods are not covered by Part 8 of the Safety Standards Regulations. These classes include:

a)             Class 6.2 (infectious substances);

b)             Class 7 (radioactive substances); and

c)             Asbestos.

Table 1 Classes of dangerous goods

Classes of Goods

Description

Reference

Dangerous goods:

Class 1

 

Explosives

 

AE Code

Class 2

Gases

ADG Code

Class 2.1

Flammable gas

Class 2.2

Non-flammable, non-toxic gases

Class 2.3

Toxic gases

Class 3

Flammable liquids

Class 4

Flammable solids

Class 4.1

Flammable solids, self-reactive, desensitised

Class 4.2

Substances liable to spontaneous combustion

Class 4.3

Substances in contact with water emit flammable gases

Class 5

Oxidizing substances; organic peroxides

Class 5.1

Oxidizing substances

Class 5.2

Organic peroxides

Class 6

Toxic and infectious substances

Class 6.1

Toxic substances

Class 8

Corrosive substances

Class 9

Miscellaneous substances and articles

Goods too dangerous to be transported

Goods listed in Appendix 5 of the ADG Code and goods determined to be so by the Authority

ADG Code

C1 and C2 combustible liquids

Any liquid other than a flammable liquid that has a flashpoint and that has a fire point less than its boiling point.

Combustible Liquid with a flashpoint > 60.5°C and ≤ 150°C

Combustible Liquid with flashpoint > 150°C

AS 1940 – The storage and handling of flammable and combustible liquids

11.12           Safety Standards Regulation 8.02(2) specifies other dangerous goods that are not covered by the Safety Standards Regulations and this Part. They include:

a)             dangerous goods in transit if they are supplied to a workplace in a container that is not opened or are used at that workplace and the goods will be kept for no more than five (5) consecutive days; 

b)             dangerous goods in a fuel system or equipment or which are essential to the operation of a fuel system or equipment;

c)             batteries connected to and which are essential for the operation of mobile plant, equipment, vehicles, boats, aircraft and appliances;

d)            fuel in fuel tanks and systems connected to, and which are essential for, the operation of mobile plant, equipment, vehicles, boats, aircraft and appliances; and

e)             dangerous goods contained in portable fire–fighting or medical equipment deployed for use at the premises.

Note: Dangerous goods not specifically covered under Part 8 of the Safety Standards Regulations are still covered by the general duty of care.

11.13           It is a requirement that the amount and location of dangerous goods in transit are properly packaged, labelled and included on the manifest register and site plan.

DEFINITIONS

‘The Australian Dangerous Goods Code (ADG Code)’ – The ADG Code provides information on the classification of dangerous goods, identification of packaging groups, and correctly labelling dangerous goods. 

‘Hazardous area’ means an area where an explosive atmosphere may occur continuously or intermittently, presenting a risk to safety. Hazardous areas include all storage and handling areas for dangerous goods with Class or Subsidiary Risk of 2.1; 3; 4 or 5 and dangerous goods that may generate combustible dusts.

‘IBC’ – means Intermediate Bulk Container.

RESPONSIBILITIES OF MANUFACTURERS, IMPORTERS AND SUPpLIERS OF DANGEROUS GOODS

11.14           Manufacturers, importers and suppliers of dangerous goods must comply with the relevant sections of the Safety Standards Regulations in Part 8 Storage and Handling of Dangerous Goods.

11.15           For the preparation of Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDSs), manufacturers, importers and suppliers of dangerous goods must comply with the National Code of Practice for the Preparation of Material Safety Data Sheets [NOHSC: 2011 (2003)].

RESPONSIBILITIES OF EMPLOYERS

Design safe facilities

11.16           Employers should consider the design of the facility and ensure that safety is part of the process. Design factors can include:

a)             structuring workplace layouts to ensure that the storage of incompatible substances and fire risk goods are located away from any bulk storage of combustible goods; and

b)             purpose designed buildings constructed of suitable materials for the types of goods to be stored in the workplace.

11.17           When a structure or plant has been designed and built for use for a specific dangerous good, care should be taken if the plant is to be used for a different substance. The employer should re-assess whether the structure or plant is suitable for use with that substance.

Identify hazards

11.18           Safety Standards Regulation 8.15 requires an employer to identify any foreseeable hazards and hazardous activities associated with the storage or handling of dangerous goods.

11.19           In order to identify the hazards associated with the storage and handling of dangerous goods Safety Standards Regulation 8.15 requires the employer to:

a)             collect information on potential hazards using sources such as the MSDS;

b)             consult with employees, suppliers or other persons with expertise;

c)             conduct regular inspections of the workplace and the procedures for storage and handling of the dangerous goods;

d)            examine plans of the workplace including buildings, water, gas, electricity, compressed air, steam, drains, fire services, chemical pipelines, roads, access ways and engineering specifications of relevant plant; and

e)             discuss risks with the employers of nearby workplaces and the relevant emergency services authority.

11.20           Hazard identification for structures, plant, equipment, systems of work and activities used in the storage and handling of dangerous goods involves collecting information on:

a)             physical components or characteristics that have the potential to harm the safety and health of a person, cause damage to property or the environment, either in their own right or in conjunction with the dangerous goods;

b)             systems of work including operating procedures and unusual operating conditions which could give rise to harm or damage; and

c)             activities that may pose a threat to the dangerous goods.

11.21           When identifying the hazards, the employer should consider:

a)             possible reactions between dangerous goods and any plant, structures or other substances;

b)             the chemical and physical reactions of dangerous goods;

c)             manufacturing, transfer or transport processes;

d)            plant and other structures used in the storage or handling of dangerous goods;

e)             any information about the hazardous properties;

f)              the kind and characteristics of incidents which may be associated with dangerous goods;

g)             the location of dangerous goods; and

h)             environmental factors that may have an effect on the goods.

11.22           Employers should refer to the MSDS for the chemical and physical properties of the dangerous goods. These include but are not limited to:

a)             physical state;

b)             flashpoint, fire point and explosive limits;

c)             viscosity;

d)            density;

e)             particle size;

f)              vapour pressure;

g)             solubility and pH;

h)             reactivity;

i)               boiling and/or freezing point or range;

j)               electrical and/or heat conductivity; and

k)             the nature and concentration of combustible products.

11.23           Employers should consider the inherent hazards or subsidiary risks such as:

a)             fire;

b)             explosion; and

c)             toxic effects such as inhalation, ingestion, absorption through the skin or eyes, or corrosive action.

11.24           Employers should refer to incident and dangerous occurrence reports as they provide useful information about the hazards and risks associated with dangerous goods. 

Consider other hazard sources

11.25           Employers should take into consideration hazards that may arise from sources outside the workplace. 

11.26           Employers should identify all hazards in the workplace including those that may be unrelated but when combined with dangerous chemicals have the potential to cause catastrophic results. For example, the fire risk is increased where grass is over grown or combustible items such as timber or cardboard boxes have been stored or dumped.

11.27           Other activities which are not directly related to the storage and handling of dangerous goods may generate potential hazards within the workplace. This may require the consideration of any adjacent storage areas that contain dangerous goods or the proximity of other work areas when identifying hazards.

11.28           The proximity of railway lines, pipelines, mobile phone repeater towers, and protected places such as schools and public buildings are required to be taken into consideration when assessing the hazards associated with the storage and handling of dangerous goods at a workplace.

11.29           Other sources of information, which provide the employer with information on the hazards and risks associated with dangerous goods, include:

a)             package markings and labels;

b)             instructions from manufacturers or suppliers of dangerous goods or equipment;

c)             dangerous goods authorities;

d)            National Industrial Chemical Notification and Assessment Scheme (NICNAS) summary reports;[1] 

e)             sources listed in the National Code of Practice for the Preparation of Material Safety Data Sheets [NOHSC: 2011 (2003)];

f)              fire services;

g)             Office of the Australian Safety and Compensation Council (OASCC); and

h)             trade unions, employer and/or industry associations.

11.30           Employers should consider processes and activities in the workplace in relation to the storage and handling of dangerous goods. These include procedures to identify any short cuts that may be occurring. 

11.31           Employers should conduct periodic walk through inspections of workplaces to observe actual practices relating to the storage and handling of dangerous goods.

Assess the risks

11.32           The employer must assess all risks associated with each dangerous goods hazard (Safety Standards Regulation 8.16).

11.33           The employer should decide if there is sufficient expertise within the workplace to conduct the risk assessment or whether external advice is required. This decision will depend on the skills and experience available to undertake the risk assessment. The expertise required will depend on the classes of dangerous goods involved and the complexity of processes employed in the particular workplace.

11.34           Employers should consider the use of structured risk assessment processes, such as Hazard and Operability Studies (HAZOP) or Hazard Analysis (HAZAN). In some situations, it may be necessary to undertake a quantitative risk analysis (QRA) to assist in understanding the risks involved. 

Implement risk control measures

11.35           Employers should ensure that all structures and plant associated with the storage and handling of dangerous goods is subject to a risk assessment and that appropriate control measures are implemented. At each stage of the operation, the risk assessment process should be followed. This includes:

a)             design – the hazards should be eliminated at this stage as far as practicable and the risks of the total system minimised;

b)             manufacture – to a high standard within the design specification with the use of quality, durable materials which will not be adversely affected by the storage and handling of the dangerous goods;

c)             installation – only after all hazards associated with the installation have been identified, the risks assessed and control measures implemented;

d)            commissioning – only after undergoing thorough testing to ensure that all hazards have been identified, control measures implemented and agreed procedures developed to ensure safe operation;

e)             operation – only in accordance with the agreed procedures by authorised personnel who have received appropriate training in the correct procedures;

f)              maintenance and repair – to ensure additional hazards are not introduced or the risks have not increased during normal operation or breakdown; and

g)             decommissioning (if required) – so as not to introduce additional risks or, where this is not practicable, the additional risks are minimised with appropriate control measures.

Control hazards at the design stage

11.36           Employers should consider all dangerous goods and the possible reactions when completing the risk assessment to determine the most appropriate control measure from the hierarchy of controls. Elimination of the hazard should be considered at the design stage of the system of work.

11.37           Employers should incorporate isolation and engineering controls into structures and plant at the design stage rather than modifying existing designs and installations. It may not be practicable to retrofit control features such as spill containment or natural ventilation once the plant or structure has been installed.

11.38           There may be a choice of physical processes that are available to achieve the same result. Employers should consider each alternative and implement the process that poses the least risk.

Control hazards in the workplace

11.39           Employers should consider the procedures for controlling the risks. The three main steps in risk control are:

a)             development and implementation of control policies and procedures in        consultation with employees;

b)             monitoring the effectiveness of the control strategies; and

c)             reviewing as necessary.

11.40           Safety Standards Regulation 8.17 specifies that employers must control risks by eliminating the hazard and if this is not practicable, by reducing the risk associated with the hazard.  

11.41           Employers should follow the hierarchy of control measures to ensure safe outcomes in the workplace.

 

 

Eliminate hazards

11.42           The most effective control measure is to eliminate the hazards and risks at the source, which may include either the dangerous goods or activities surrounding the use of the dangerous goods.  

11.43           In some situations, where the dangerous goods may not be essential for the operation, elimination of the dangerous goods may be appropriate. The employer may use:

a)             physical processes rather than a chemical process to clean an object such as using high–pressure water or steam rather than solvents or use water based paints rather than solvent based paints;

b)             clips, clamps, bolts or rivets rather than adhesive; and 

c)             chlorine that is produced by electrolysis rather than storing/handling other dangerous goods which are comprised of chlorine or its compounds at the workplace.

Eliminate the activity

11.44           Employers should consider the workplace layout such as:

a)             ensuring that storage and handling areas are not used as thoroughfares to reduce the risk of collisions at the workplace; and

b)             restricting or prohibiting employees from carrying potential ignition sources such as matches, lighters, mobile phones, or spark producing tools in work areas.

Substitute or modify the hazards 

11.45           Substitution is the replacement of dangerous goods or hazardous activities with a lower risk substance or activity. Employers should consider substitution of a dangerous good for a less hazardous substance such as:

a)             using a less volatile material to control a vapour hazard. This may cost less than the installation and maintenance of a mechanical ventilation system;

b)             using a non-dangerous good instead of a dangerous good by degreasing with a detergent instead of a chlorinated or volatile solvent;

c)             substituting a flammable liquid with a combustible liquid; and 

d)            using dangerous goods with a single hazard as indicated by a single class without a subsidiary risk rather than mixing goods that have one or more subsidiary risks.

11.46           Employers should provide safe work processes for high-risk activities. These may include:

a)             using diluted acids and alkalis rather than concentrates;

b)             using stretch wrapping rather than flame heat shrink to palletised goods;

c)             using a pallet cage rather than stretch wrapping in areas where static electricity generated during the wrapping process would increase hazards;

d)            using a solid in paste or pellet form rather than as dust/powder;

e)             applying paint by brush rather than spray;

f)              transferring packages by conveyor rather than forklift; and

g)             using non-sparking tools in a hazardous atmosphere.

11.47           Reducing quantities of dangerous goods in the workplace correspondingly reduces the overall risk. Employers should reduce the quantities of dangerous goods by using inventories that ensure: 

a)             ordering is only as required rather than storing large quantities of dangerous goods; and

b)             the prompt disposal of dangerous goods that are no longer required.

11.48           Where a workplace does not have the appropriate facilities to store dangerous goods safely, employers should use an alternative location that is a suitable store for dangerous goods.

Isolate the hazard

11.49           Isolation is the separation of dangerous goods from people and other property, including other dangerous goods. Isolation may be achieved by enclosing, separating by distance or by the use of barriers. Employers should ensure that the principles of isolation are a high priority when establishing new workplaces for the storage and handling of large quantities of dangerous goods. Isolation methods may include:

a)             distancing the dangerous goods from protected works, other dangerous goods, people and other properties so interaction is not possible;

b)             enclosing a hazardous activity;

c)             storing incompatible dangerous goods, such as Class 5.1 oxidizing agents and flammable or combustible materials, in separate buildings which are separated by sufficient distances so that interaction is impossible and an incident in one area will not involve another; and

d)            installing vapour barriers that have an appropriate fire resistance level to provide additional isolation.

Use engineering methods to control the hazard

11.50           Engineering controls involve the use of structures, plant, equipment and processes that employers should use to reduce hazards associated with the storage and handling of dangerous goods. These include:

a)             enclosing the dangerous goods or external hazard;

b)             providing adequate ventilation;

c)             sparging or blanketing exposed liquid surfaces with an inert             atmosphere to prevent an explosive atmosphere forming;

d)            developing automatic processes to eliminate human error;

e)             fitting sensors and controls for liquid levels, pressure or temperature to minimise the formation of hazardous atmospheres and eliminate overflow and uncontrolled reactions;

f)              specifying the right electrical circuitry;

g)             constructing barriers between incompatible goods; and

h)             installing suitable devices to protect installations from external hazards.

Use administrative controls

11.51           In many cases, dangerous goods may need to be stored and handled within an existing workplace where there are constraints with the buildings and outside storage areas. Employers should consider the design of safe work practices and processes to control or reduce the risk.

11.52           When using administrative controls employers should ensure that employees are informed and trained to implement the controls.

11.53           Administrative controls rely on agreed work practices and procedures between the employer and employee. It is important that these controls are simple and developed to match the skills and capabilities of the people who will use them. Some examples of administrative controls are:

a)             safe work procedures that describe the correct methods for performing all activities;

b)             operating procedures that ensure the integrity of structures, plant and equipment are maintained at all times;

c)             training and supervision to provide the necessary knowledge and skills required to ensure correct procedures are followed safely;

d)            procedures that limit the number of people in the dangerous work area but also prevent lone occupancy;

e)             job rotation for employees to limit the period of exposure;

f)              procedures to ensure that work involving inspection, maintenance, repair testing and cleaning is carried out to minimise risk;

g)             the regular cleaning of contamination from walls and surfaces, dust and drip removal from all work areas and ensuring lids on containers are in place when not in use or when being moved;

h)             monitoring of workplaces to ensure that safe working conditions are maintained;

i)               procedures for waste disposal and effective decontamination and inventory control;

j)               the development of well designed and rehearsed emergency procedures; and

k)             the prohibition or control of activities that is inconsistent with the safe storage and handling of dangerous goods, such as eating, drinking, and smoking.

Provide Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

11.54           PPE consists of devices and clothing that provide individual employees with additional protection from hazards.  

11.55           Employers should not use PPE as the sole control measure except where no other control measure is practicable. For PPE to be effective, an employer should ensure that only approved clothing and equipment is used and that it provides the required level of protection.

11.56           Employers should provide comprehensive instruction to employees on the correct use of PPE and the circumstances when it is required.

11.57           All PPE should be readily available and correctly fitted for all employees. Employers should ensure that the PPE is cleaned and maintained on a regular basis to ensure that it is serviceable at all times.

11.58           In some cases, it will not be possible to reduce the risks to an acceptable level without the use of PPE. The MSDS for dangerous goods will normally contain recommendations on the selection and use of the required PPE. Employers should follow this advice unless the risk assessment determines other or additional protection measures are required.  

Monitor and review controls

11.59           Safety Standards Regulation 8.17 requires employers to implement the required risk control mechanisms and continuously supervise those controls. 

11.60           Over time, there may be an increasing risk of familiarity when working with dangerous goods. This could lead to complacency and shortcuts with potentially tragic outcomes. Employers should consult with employees and/or their representatives or HSRs on strategies to prevent this from occurring.

11.61           Where employers are required to implement numerous risk and administrative control measures in a workplace, a further administrative control such as a Safety Management System (SMS) may be required to monitor the compliance and effectiveness of these controls.

11.62           If a SMS is not required, the employer should ensure that a system for safety control management is developed specific to the particular workplace according to the nature of activities at that workplace. Many corporate and proprietary systems exist, which have common features, such as:

a)             scope, policy and objectives;

b)             assignment of responsibilities;

c)             operating procedures;

d)            standards, codes and laws;

e)             management of change;

f)              scheduling and establishing procedures for reviews; and

g)             system auditing and corrective action.

11.63           Employers should ensure that only persons with the appropriate qualifications, knowledge, skills and experience are in control of work areas. Employers should arrange for adequate supervision of all employees and contractors at all times where dangerous goods are stored and handled.

11.64           Employers should ensure that all risks with unacceptable consequences are actioned immediately. It may be necessary to close down operations to eliminate the risk in the short term until effective risk control measures are in place.

11.65           If a breach of Part 8 of the Safety Standards Regulations occurs, the employer must take action as soon as practicable to address and rectify the breach and any risk resulting from that breach.

 

 

Specific risk control measures

11.66           Safety Standards Regulations 8.18 to 8.34 relate to the duties of employers to persons in the workplace, protected places and to the external environment. The employer has specific duties including: 

a)             physically separating the dangerous goods from people and places;

b)             physically separating the dangerous goods from incompatible substances;

c)             keeping dangerous goods stable;

d)            using impact protection for structures and plant;

e)             using impact protection for containers;

f)              protecting the environment by:

(i)            preventing spills;

(ii)          preventing spills in the transfer of dangerous goods;

(iii)        controlling hazardous atmospheres; and

(iv)        providing suitable lighting;

g)             providing fire protection such as:

(i)            sufficient water supply;

(ii)          use of fire alarm systems;

(iii)        use of hose reels;

(iv)        use of fire hydrants;

(v)          use of fire monitors; and

(vi)        use of automatic sprinkler system; 

h)             emergency preparedness including:

(i)            providing safety equipment;

(ii)          developing emergency plans;

(iii)        implementing procedures; and

(iv)        developing emergency spills procedures;

i)               developing and educating on security measures; and

j)               developing procedures for the disposal of plant, equipment and containers.

Separate dangerous goods from people, protected places, and other property

11.67           Safety Standards Regulation 8.18 requires an employer to use physical separation methods to eliminate or reduce, as far as is reasonably practicable, any risks to a person, protected place or any property at or outside the workplace that may result from a dangerous occurrence involving the storage or handling of dangerous goods.

11.68           Physical separation is the principal method by which risks to other occupancies are minimised. Separation may include:

a)             isolating the dangerous goods by distance;

b)             using effective barriers; or

c)             a combination of both.

11.69           In deciding what may be effective to control a specific risk, an employer should consider the types of hazard and risks the dangerous goods stored and handled in the workplace may pose to adjacent properties. This analysis should include:

a)             the quantity of dangerous goods stored and handled in the work area;

b)             the type of installation and the processes applied to the dangerous goods in the work area and their associated hazards;

c)             all other activities in the work area which may increase the risks; and

d)            any control measures in place that will reduce the risks.

11.70           When using barriers, employers should consider any risk posed to the barrier when used to isolate dangerous goods. For example:

a)             the effect that climatic elements may have on a barrier and its effectiveness;

b)             the level of fire resistance provided by the barrier; and

c)             the structural capability that may be required to withstand weather and overpressure resulting from internal or external incidents. 

Separate dangerous goods from incompatible substances

11.71           Safety Standards Regulation 8.19 requires employers to separate dangerous goods from all other goods that are incompatible to prevent any dangerous interaction. Employers should separate the storage and handling of dangerous goods from incompatible goods in separate areas, or by using physical barriers or by distance if they must be stored within the same area.

11.72           Employers should not store dangerous goods above or below other goods with which they may interact.

11.73           Employers should, as far as practicable, prevent dangerous goods from:

a)             interacting with incompatible goods; and

b)             contaminating food, food packaging and personal use products, such as cosmetics, cigarettes, medication and toiletries.

11.74           Employers should ensure that workplace systems and procedures are developed and enforced. This includes the training and supervision of personnel so that there is segregation of incompatible substances at all times.

Keep dangerous goods stable

11.75           Safety Standards Regulation 8.20 requires an employer to, as far as is reasonably practicable, ensure that the dangerous goods are kept stable. Unless the goods are about to be used in a manufacturing process, an employer must ensure that the dangerous goods are stored and handled in such a way as to prevent them becoming unstable, decomposing or changing so that a different hazard is created or the risk associated with the dangerous goods is increased.  

11.76           An employer must make sure the dangerous goods are stored in accordance with the ADG Code or the manufacturer’s specifications. If the stability of the dangerous goods depends on the maintenance of proportions of the substances the employer must:

a)             maintain the specified proportions of substances that constitute the dangerous goods including any stabilising ingredients; and

b)             keep the goods at or below a control temperature.

Protect structures and plant from impact

11.77           To prevent damage from the movement of the structure or plant including any attached pipe work or equipment, an employer must ensure that structures or plant used for the storage or handling of dangerous goods are appropriately located and fixed to a stable foundation (Safety Standards Regulation 8.21).

11.78           The most likely sources of impact are vehicles or other mobile plant however, the employer should also consider any threats from external sources such as nearby railways, airports or construction activities.

11.79           Employers should ensure that control measures are in place for the prevention or control of an impact. Installation of crash protection measures, such as bollards and guardrails may provide impact protection. The impact control measures should absorb the energy of any reasonably foreseeable impact and minimise the likelihood of injury to anyone involved in the incident. Impact protection measures may be necessary for:

a)             structures containing dangerous goods;

b)             plant and equipment including storage and process vessels, associated pipe work, pumps and controls;

c)             storage areas (including transit storage) for packages, IBCs and associated shelves and racks; and

d)            exposed parts of the fire protection systems.

Protect containers for bulk dangerous goods from impact

11.80           Safety Standards Regulation 8.22 requires that a container, pipe work or any attached equipment must be protected from damage that may result from activities in the workplace. Bulk containers are usually designed focussing on the storage of the goods rather than the impact from other objects. The employer should ensure:

a)             the integrity of the container;

b)             the container location prevents impact from workplace activities; and

c)             any underground tanks are sited safely and protected from workplace activities.

Protect the environment

11.81           Employers should ensure that there is no seepage of dangerous goods from an underground tank or through faulty foundations of an underground tank. Leaked material can migrate through the water table and present a risk to people and property at considerable distances from the leaking tank.

11.82           Employers should construct underground tanks that are located and protected to eliminate the risk of environmental damage due to leaks from:

a)             failure, usually due to corrosion or stress loading; and

b)             spills from above ground pipe work and filling points.

11.83           Employers should consider other risks involved with the seepage of underground tanks such as the threat of dangerous goods building up in locations such as telecommunication pits or basements of buildings. This may endanger the people who are required to access these locations for the purpose of employment or residence.

Note: Underground storage installations for bulk dangerous goods and combustible liquids are usually subject to additional controls from environmental authorities and local government.

Ensure the integrity of containers

11.84           Understanding the risks associated with leaks from bulk containers, employers should ensure that they maintain the integrity of the storage container in all operating conditions. Factors to consider include:

a)             structural soundness to prevent leaks and withstand stresses from the product being stored;

b)             stability, rigidity and suitability of foundations;

c)             stresses imposed by pipe work and other attachments;

d)            atmospheric conditions including sun, wind and rain;

e)             the effects of external impacts; and

f)              the extent to which an acceptable level of corrosion is permitted over the service life of the container.

11.85           Employers should ensure that bulk containers are located to provide the maximum separation from other occupancies.

Contain spills of dangerous goods

11.86           Safety Standards Regulation 8.23 requires that if a spill, leak or accidental release of dangerous goods occurs, the employer must take action to contain the dangerous goods within the workplace (refer to paragraphs 11.137 – 139 for information on the emergency procedures for spills).

11.87           Open containers not in use, are a principal source of dangerous goods incidents. This leads to spillages, generation of ‘hazardous atmosphere’ and fire. Employers should train and supervise employees to ensure they seal containers correctly when the dangerous goods are not in use.

11.88           Employers should implement a spill containment system large enough to hold all spills safely until clean up.  Factors the employer should consider include:

a)             the nature of the dangerous goods (whether liquid or solid);

b)             the quantity of the dangerous goods;

c)             the size of the largest container or reasonably foreseeable largest spill;

d)            the potential impact if the dangerous goods escape to the environment;

e)             whether it is necessary to provide for the management of firewater at an incident;

f)              a separate spill containment is provided for incompatible goods;

g)             the materials used to construct the containment system, as well as any materials used for absorption, are compatible with the dangerous goods;

h)             other materials in the vicinity that will prevent contamination of groundwater or soil; and

i)               the systems integrity will be maintained in any foreseeable incident.

Eliminate risks when transferring dangerous goods

11.89           Employers should ensure that the design of the transfer system and the transfer operation for dangerous goods meet the safety requirements by taking into account factors such as:

a)             the hazards associated with dangerous goods and the proposed method of transfer;

b)             the required flow or transfer rates and quantities; and

c)             external hazards and adjacent activities.

11.90           The ADG Code includes specific requirements for the transfer of dangerous goods.  Employers should ensure all components in the transfer system are compatible with, or suitably protected from, the goods being transferred. 

11.91           Safety Standards Regulation 8.24 requires employers to ensure any risks associated with the transfer of dangerous goods to, from or within the workplace are eliminated as far as practicable. If elimination is not possible, employers should reduce the risk by considering:

a)             spillage or overflow;

b)             static electricity;

c)             vapour generation;

d)            incompatible transfer fittings;

e)             sources of ignition; and

f)              instability of the dangerous goods.

11.92           Employers should take particular care where spillage may occur away from spill containment installations, such as the transfer by pipe work through areas without bunding. Methods for preventing spills and overflow include:

a)             overflow protection equipment on receiving vessels;

b)             flow and pressure regulators on pipe work or pumps;

c)             interlocking of valves and switches; and

d)            systems for detecting losses from pipe work and fittings, such as static pressure loss detectors, measurement to determine losses in transfer or external sensors.

11.93           Vapour emissions resulting from transfer can be minimised and employers should consider the following:

a)             the use of enclosed transfer systems;

b)             keeping lids open only for the minimum period required for transfer;

c)             minimising exposed surface areas;

d)            avoidance of splash filling;

e)             minimising the temperature of liquids being transferred; and

f)              providing extraction ventilation for all sources of vapour.

11.94           Employers should ensure compatibility for all items that may need to interconnect, including:

a)             hoses, couplings and associated fittings;

b)             earthing connections;

c)             vapour recovery connections; and

d)            telemetry where required.

11.95           Employers must prevent static electricity generation when transferring flammable and combustible liquids, combustible powders and any other dangerous goods with a flammability hazard (Safety Standards Regulation 8.28).

Provide fire protection in the workplace

11.96           Safety Standards Regulation 8.25 requires employers to have a fire prevention and fire protection system in the workplace that is designed for use in relation to the types and quantities of dangerous goods stored or handled at that workplace.

11.97           When assessing the appropriate fire protection methods, the employer must consider:

a)             the conditions under which the goods are stored and handled at the            workplace;

b)             the fire load of the dangerous goods;

c)             the compatibility of the dangerous goods with other goods;

d)            risks from other sources; and

e)             proximity to other workplaces or premises (Safety Standards Regulation 8.25(1)(a)).

11.98           Employers should ensure that the fire protection system has the capacity to quickly control and extinguish any fire involving the dangerous goods. Employers must also effectively protect the dangerous goods stored within the workplace from any fire in adjacent properties (Safety Standards Regulation 8.25(1)).

Note: The Building Code of Australia alone may not be sufficient for fire protection of different types of buildings storing dangerous goods. Additional fire protection for the dangerous goods and the building may be required.

11.99           The fire load will depend on the particular hazards associated with the dangerous goods and combustible liquids as well as the quantities being stored and handled. Employers should consider other factors that may influence the fire load including:

a)             storage configuration, height, and density of the dangerous goods;

b)             location, design, type of construction and total floor area of the building or work area;

c)             nature of any structures, plant, and equipment including their materials of construction;

d)            type of operations in the building or work area, with particular attention to whether the goods are bulk, or in open or closed packages; and

e)             if any processing of dangerous goods occurs within the workplace.

11.100       Employers should ensure that the fire protection system provides protection for the dangerous goods installation from off–site sources of exposure and off site premises from on–site exposure. Attention should be given to the types of structures present, with current and future activities.

Ensure the water supply is adequate

11.101       Employers should ensure that there is a reliable water supply for the fire protection system. The supply should be sufficient to supply both the internal fire protection equipment and additional equipment, used by the emergency services authority controlling a fire at the premises.

11.102       Where sufficient supply is not available from the main water supply, employers should supplement this with additional water storage and/or pumps. If the local authorities permit it, water may be obtained from reliable alternative sources such as close by rivers and dams, using whatever resources are suitable.

11.103       Employers should ensure the adequacy of the local water supply and pressure within the workplace by coordinating with the local emergency services authority to conducts regular checks.

Install fire alarm systems

11.104       Where required employers should ensure that the design and installation of the fire alarm system contains:

a)             automatic systems capable of being operated manually through the use of clearly identified alarm activators at convenient and safe locations, easily accessible to work areas;

b)             alarm signals that are distinguishable from any other signal to permit ready recognition and which are clearly audible throughout the premises;

c)             an effective visual system as an alternative which should be installed where there are high noise levels or where the use of protective clothing may prevent the recognition of an alarm signal; and

d)            a system that remains operable if the main power supply fails.

Install fire-fighting equipment

11.105       Employers should ensure that fire-fighting equipment is located so that:

a)             it is in a conspicuous position;

b)             it is readily accessible in the event of an incident, preferably being sited adjacent to exit doors or on exit routes;

c)             it is convenient to, and readily accessible from, the risk being protected; and

d)            all dangerous goods and other items being protected can be directly reached by the fire–fighting medium.

11.106       Safety Standards Regulation 8.25(b) directs employers to ensure that the installation, testing and maintenance of fire fighting equipment are in accordance with the manufacturer’s specifications.

11.107       Employers should ensure that all fire fighting equipment is correctly labelled.

11.108       If at any stage the fire protection or fire fighting equipment becomes ineffective, the employer must ensure that any risks resulting from the loss of these items are assessed. If alternative resources cannot be obtained to provide the required level of protection, it may be necessary to cease operating until effective fire protection can be restored (Safety Standards Regulation 8.25(2)).

Install hose reel systems

11.109       Employers should ensure that hose reel systems are located on each level of a building where dangerous goods are stored and handled. Where the total floor area exceeds 300m², hose reels should reach every location and installation within the building. Appropriate hydrant hose systems may be substituted for fire hose reels if there are trained persons capable of safely using the equipment.

11.110       Employers should ensure that hose reels have the required length, have the appropriately signage and if there is a possibility of damage to the hose reel, a protective cabinet or other suitable safety protection should be provided.

11.111       Employers should ensure that foam hose reels are capable of producing satisfactory foam that meets the manufacturers’ specifications, are suitable for the risks and are identified by appropriate signage.

Maintain fire hydrants

11.112       Employers should ensure that fire hydrants are equipped with a hose branch and nozzle except where it is not appropriate to do so, for example:

a)             where this equipment may be susceptible to theft; and

b)             there are no properly trained personnel to operate them.

11.113       Employers should ensure that external hydrants are:

a)             placed in a convenient position, but at a safe distance from exit doors and hard standing areas;

b)             easily visible with appropriate identification signs; and

c)             capable of providing the appropriate coverage.

Install fire control monitors

11.114       Employers should ensure that monitors are installed, in accordance with manufacturers’ specifications, where fire control may require the direction of large quantities of firewater (or equivalent) at a fixed installation, with minimum exposure for fire fighters.

11.115       Employers should ensure that monitors are installed in consultation with the relevant fire brigade.

Install automatic sprinkler systems

11.116       Employer should install automatic sprinkler systems, which may comprise:

a)             individual–actuation sprinklers;

b)             deluge sprinklers;

c)             foam sprinklers; or

d)            a combination of any of the above.

Maintain portable fire extinguishers

11.117       Employers should ensure that all portable fire extinguishers are clearly visible, readily available, unobstructed, and appropriate for the identified risk, not adversely affected by hazardous or climatic conditions, properly serviced and regularly tested.

Note: AS 2444:2001 – Portable fire extinguishers and fire blankets – Selection and location provides relevant information on the selection and storage of fire extinguishers.

Develop and implement emergency procedures

11.118       Safety Standards Regulation 8.26(a) requires employers to develop, implement and maintain emergency procedures for all workplaces that store and handle dangerous goods. This ensures the safe management of all assessed emergencies such as fire, spillage, vapour release, uncontrolled reaction and external threats.

11.119       Employers should take into account when determining the extent of emergency procedures the size and complexity of the workplace, the types and quantities of dangerous goods and the processes involved when the goods are in use. The emergency procedures should include:

a)             the means of raising the alarm;

b)             the method for summoning the appropriate emergency services; and

c)             any actions to be taken by employees in an emergency to ensure the safety and health of all persons and to minimise damage to property and the environment.

Note: An example of an effective emergency procedure is a simple one–page document; in point form, suitable for display on signs or carrying by employees or visitors as a pocket card.

11.120       Employers must communicate the emergency procedures and provide training for all employees and other persons who may be affected if an emergency occurs in the workplace (Safety Standards Regulation 8.26(a)).

11.121       Safety Standards Regulation 8.26(b) requires that emergency equipment is available for dealing with the containment and clean up of any accident in the workplace.

Develop and implement emergency plans

11.122       Safety Standards Regulation 8.27 requires employers to ensure that an emergency plan is developed, implemented and maintained at the workplace where:

a)             dangerous goods with amounts larger than the manifest quantity in Schedule 7 to the Safety Standards Regulations, are being stored and handled at the workplace; and

b)             the goods are explosives, and their total quantity is a notifiable quantity under Safety Standards Regulation 8.44A(1).

11.123       The purpose of an emergency plan is to minimise the effect of dangerous occurrences in a workplace. The employer should implement an emergency plan that prioritises the most likely incidents. It should incorporate actions required for worst case scenarios and should be adaptable in all circumstances dependent upon the severity and the type of incident.

11.124       Employers should ensure that the emergency plan has a clean–up strategy for equipment and material that includes the availability of absorbents and neutralisers.

11.125       Employers when developing the emergency plan should:

a)             consult with employees, contractors and/or their representatives or health and safety representatives and the relevant emergency service authority; and

b)             provide a copy of the plan to the emergency services who may then issue written advice to the employer about the plan. If this occurs, the employer should consider the advice.

11.126       Employers should consult with local government authorities for environment and planning to ensure compliance with any legislation and emergency planning in the jurisdiction. The employer should also consider consulting with neighbours if an emergency may affect adjoining properties.

11.127       The emergency plan should be communicated to all persons who may be affected by an emergency. 

Coordinate the emergency plan

11.128       Employers should ensure that the emergency plan is comprehensive and coordinates all aspects of emergency management including:

a)             copies of all emergency procedures;

b)             responsibilities of key persons in managing emergencies;

c)             circumstances to activate the plan;

d)            systems for raising the alarm;

e)             estimating the extent of the emergency;

f)              summoning emergency services authorities when an event becomes an emergency, or has the potential to become a dangerous occurrence;

g)             protection of all persons including detailed evacuation procedures and methods for accounting for all people at the workplace;

h)             isolation of the emergency area to prevent entry by non-essential personnel;

i)               roles of on–site emergency response teams;

j)               containment of any spillage;

k)             the requirement for waste firewater retention to ensure that contaminated firewater cannot enter waterways, drains or ground water;

l)               disconnection of power supplies and other energy sources except when required to maintain safety of a critical operation or to run emergency equipment such as fire booster pumps;

m)           prevention of dangerous goods or contaminated material of any kind from entering drains or waterways;

n)             provision of relevant information and assistance to the emergency services authority, both in anticipation of emergencies and when they occur;

o)             maintenance of site security throughout the emergency;

p)             provision for dealing with the public and the press; and

q)             site rehabilitation requirements.

11.129       Where there is a foreseeable incident, which may affect beyond the boundary of the workplace, the employer should ensure that the emergency plan addresses the management of the off–site effects. This may include providing warnings or communications to neighbouring workplaces and residences.

11.130       Where emergency plans include agreements with the employers of neighbouring workplaces to provide mutual aid in emergencies, these arrangements should be formalised in consultation with the emergency services and other involved parties to determine the plan’s effectiveness.

11.131       Where the emergency plan includes activities that involve persons who reside or work adjacent to the workplace, employers should ensure that the relevant parts of the plan are communicated to those persons.

Implement the emergency plan

11.132       Employers should ensure that the emergency plan is tested when first devised and after each modification. Throughout the year, at suitable intervals, practice drills and simulated emergencies should be conducted and involve all employees and the emergency services. These drills should be focussed on familiarising anyone who is involved in the storage and handling of dangerous goods so that they are practised in any emergencies.

11.133       Safety Standards Regulation 8.27(4) directs employers to review the emergency plan:

a)             within five years of its development;

b)             at intervals of no more than five years; 

c)             a change in the circumstances that may include whenever there is:

i)              a change to the risk at or near the workplace;

ii)            when updated information becomes available; and

iii)          when a possible deficiency is identified.

11.134       Employers must ensure that the emergency plans are readily available to all supervisors and employees at all times. Any changes to the plan or issues raised because of a review should be discussed with the emergency services authority (Safety Standards Regulation 8.27(3)).

Provide safety equipment to control risks

11.135       Employers should ensure that the safety equipment necessary for use with dangerous goods is compatible with, and suitably protected from, the dangerous goods. The risk assessment will determine the appropriate control measure required. 

11.136       The employer must ensure that the equipment is available to relevant persons at all times and is maintained in accordance with manufacturer’s specifications (Safety Standards Regulation 8.29).

Provide emergency equipment for spills

11.137       Safety equipment required to control spills must be provided by the employer and must be available, regularly maintained and checked to ensure it operates effectively in accordance with the manufacturer’s specifications (Safety Standards Regulation 8.29).

11.138       Employers should assess each spill risk associated with all the dangerous goods held at the workplace. The equipment required to contain and clean up after an incident will vary according to the type and quantity of the dangerous goods.

11.139       Safety equipment for use with dangerous goods should be appropriate to the dangerous goods type. Employers should consider the following equipment for use in an emergency:

a)             over packs such as oversized drums to contain leaks from containers;

b)             appropriate absorbent material suitable for the clean–up of spills;

c)             booms, plates and/or flexible sheeting for preventing spillage from entering drains and waterways;

d)            neutralising agents such as lime and soda ash;

e)             pumps and hoses for removing the spills material; and

f)              suitable protective clothing and equipment to protect the safety and health of personnel involved in the clean up.

Eliminate ignition sources in hazardous areas

11.140       Safety Standards Regulation 8.28 requires employers to eliminate or control the ignition sources in hazardous areas of the workplace. Within a dangerous goods environment, flammable or combustible gases, vapours, dusts and mists may occur and can form explosive mixtures with air in certain proportions.

11.141       Employers must identify ignition sources in a hazardous area and if elimination is not practicable, the employer must ensure they control and reduce the risk (Safety Standards Regulation 8.28). Examples of an ignition source include: 

a)             naked flames associated with blow torches, shrink wrapping equipment, stoves, gas or oil heaters, pilot lights, driers, lighters and matches;

b)             incandescent materials such as glowing coals or lighted cigarettes, cigars and pipes;

c)             arcs from electric welding or arcing contacts on electric motors and switchgear;

d)            static sparks;

e)             mechanical sparks from grinding or from objects striking together;

f)              friction from moving parts such as fan blades rubbing nearby surfaces;

g)             heat which may be generated from appliances or from chemical and biological reaction vessels;

h)             internal combustion engines and vehicles;

i)               battery operated devices such as radio transmitters, pagers and mobile phones; and

j)               electrical fittings and equipment (including wiring, power points, switches, lighting, appliances and battery forklift trucks) which are not rated for safe operation in a hazardous area.

11.142       An employer should not permit the use of a flame or any other source of ignition during repairs in or adjacent to hazardous areas unless:

a)             close and experienced supervision is provided during the activities;

b)             the area where the repair work is to be carried out has been freed of possible hazards, including toxic or flammable gases and vapours, and combustible dusts;

c)             personnel involved in the operation are given precise, detailed instructions on the precautions which are to be taken before and while the ignition sources are in the area; and

d)            additional controls are in place such as atmospheric monitoring, isolation of switches, pipe work and valves.

11.143       For work involving ignition sources in a hazardous area, employers should use a formal work permit system.  This permit is usually referred to as a ‘hot work permit’.

Prevent static electricity

11.144       Safety Standards Regulation 8.28 states that in all hazardous areas, employers must take measures to eliminate or control the generation of static electricity to dissipate any static electricity that occurs safely.

11.145       Static electricity is generated by a wide variety of sources including:

a)             movement of dry powders and liquids that have a low electrical conductivity such as pouring, pumping, stirring, or high velocity flow;

b)             moving vehicles, equipment or components of plant;

c)             movements of personnel, especially when wearing clothing and footwear of low conductivity;

d)            fitting or removal of clothing, including protective clothing;

e)             application or removal of plastic wrap;

f)              particulate or aerosol spray, including spray painting or the rapid discharge of a carbon dioxide extinguisher;

g)             manual carrying of liquids in a non-conductive container or one with an insulating handle; and

h)             movement of packages by conveyor or by trolleys with non-conductive wheels.

11.146       Employers should consider the following procedures to eliminate or control the generation of static electricity in all hazardous areas:

a)             all tanks, pipe work, transfer systems and process plant should be earthed, or otherwise protected;

b)             liquid transfer rates and splashing should be minimised or within safe limits;

c)             the use of anti-static additives in non-conductive liquids; 

d)            the wearing of conductive clothing, particularly footwear; and

e)             operating procedures should include instructions for avoiding the risks associated with static electricity.

Control hazardous atmospheres

11.147       Safety Standards Regulation 8.30 requires that an employer must ensure that any risk to a person’s health and safety associated with any atmospheric conditions is eliminated, or, if this is not practicable, reduced as far as practicable.

11.148       Where the risk assessment process has identified the possibility of a hazardous atmosphere, employers should provide atmospheric testing and monitoring to ensure that a safe atmosphere is maintained. A hazardous atmosphere is one that contains:

a)             an oxygen level that is not safe for breathing;

b)             concentrations of hazardous gases, vapours, mists, fumes and dusts that are at or above relevant exposure standards; and

c)             concentration of flammable gases, vapours, mists, fumes and dusts at or above five per cent of the lower explosion limit.

11.149       Employers should consider the control measures for hazardous atmospheres including:

a)             preventing the entry of contaminants into the atmosphere using totally enclosed systems, or by blanketing an exposed surface with an inert atmosphere;

b)             extracting the contaminants from their sources through extraction ventilation;

c)             reducing the concentrations of contaminants by introducing uncontaminated air, either through general ventilation or by purging;

d)            limiting the introduction of processes and equipment into the area where the hazardous atmosphere may exist to those which will not constitute a risk in that atmosphere;

e)             ensuring appropriate personal protective clothing and equipment is worn by all personnel entering the area; or

f)              a combination of any of the above.

Manage ventilation 

11.150       Employers should consider local exhaust ventilation from each significant source of contamination as it is usually more effective for the prevention of harmful atmospheres. Where a storage area for closed containers of dangerous goods has adequate openings to the open air, natural ventilation may be sufficient.  In other circumstances, a mechanical ventilation system may be required.

Note: General ventilation should provide enough entry and exhaust capacity to provide airflow throughout the area and to prevent pockets of harmful atmosphere from developing.

11.151       Where there are dangerous goods with vapours heavier than air, employers should consider:

a)             removing the exhaust air from the lowest point above any spill containment while fresh air is introduced from above; and

b)             fresh air should always be drawn from a source uncontaminated by exhaust air or other pollutants; and

c)             the exhaust should be discharged where it will not cause other risks, and in compliance with environmental legislation concerning discharges to atmosphere; and

d)            the use of cross–flow ventilation with closely spaced registers that may be effective at eliminating pockets of hazardous atmosphere; and

e)             a ventilation system for a dangerous goods area exclusive to the particular building, room or space. Linking of ventilation systems should only be allowed where it will not facilitate fire spread and there will not be any other increased risk that may arise from the mingling of incompatible vapours.

Note: Part 7 Confined Spaces of the Safety Standards Regulations provides further information on ventilation.

Use purging

Note: Purging involves introducing air or an inert gas into a confined space to displace oxygen and/or flammable, toxic or corrosive fumes. Purging with inert gas is most commonly used above the liquid surface of reaction, mixing or bulk storage vessels to prevent surface oxidation or the formation of an explosive atmosphere.

11.152       Employers may require purging for empty vessels that have contained dangerous goods prior to entry by personnel carrying out maintenance activities.

11.153       Because purging may reduce oxygen levels or there may be residual contamination, employers should implement and enforce safe entry procedures. Entry to a confined space must be in accordance with Part 7 of the Safety Standards Regulations. 

Provide sufficient lighting for the workplace

11.154       Safety Standards Regulation 8.31 specifies that the employer must ensure that adequate natural or artificial lighting is provided to all work areas and access ways. Appropriate lighting must be provided in all areas of the workplace. This could include internal roads, pathways, corridors, rooms and buildings where dangerous goods are stored or handled.

11.155       Employers should provide safe lighting considering the effects of light on the dangerous goods including the risks of particular types of lighting design as they may provide a hazardous ignition source.

11.156       Employers should consider the need for emergency illumination over exits and emergency locations.

Implement security measures

11.157       Safety Standards Regulations 8.32 and 8.33 require an employer to develop procedures to ensure the safety of visitors and the prevention of any unauthorised access to the workplace. When developing security systems and procedures, the employer should consider:

a)             security of personnel, product, processes, equipment, plant, buildings, documentation, information systems and any areas of special risk;

b)             the nature of identified hazards and their levels of risk;

c)             the location of the premises, including the nature of the surrounding community and environment;

d)            the likelihood of mischief or sabotage;

e)             the integrity and reliability of the security system hardware and design; and

f)              the back-up support required for personnel and the security systems.

11.158       Where it is necessary to control access of all people to the premises, the employer should ensure that the access control system includes:

a)             the means to identify the extent of access to be permitted for each person;

b)             the means to account for everyone on site at any given time; and

c)             the issue of restricted access passes to visitors, or prohibiting unaccompanied access.

11.159       Depending on the size and hazards of the particular premises, employers should consider security measures such as:

a)             fencing or enclosing areas where the dangerous goods are kept;

b)             providing locks on doors, windows and other openings to buildings, rooms, compartments or containers where dangerous goods are kept;

c)             continuously supervising areas where the dangerous goods are kept;

d)            security checks on all vehicles entering or leaving the premises; and

e)             limiting access by visitors, contractors and employees to authorised areas only.

11.160       Employees should receive training to ensure that they understand security measures and security signs. All visitors to the workplace should be provided with information and supervised appropriately.

Dispose of plant, equipment and containers

11.161       Safety Standards Regulation 8.34 requires employers to ensure that plant, pipe work, equipment or containers are free from dangerous goods or otherwise made safe prior to disposal. Prior to commencing the decommissioning, abandoning or disposal of plant used for dangerous goods, the employer must identify the hazards in order to assess and control the risks involved in the process (Safety Standards Regulation 8.16).

11.162       Employers should ensure that plant and equipment for disposal is subjected to the following precautions:

a)             identification of possible residual or resultant hazards;

b)             provision of appropriate fire protection, where required;

c)             ventilation to prevent build up of a hazardous atmosphere; and

d)            containment of any effluent.

11.163       Employers should decontaminate dangerous goods containers, such as drums, unless they are:

a)             for refill;

b)             for refurbishment; or

c)             otherwise made safe by measures that will prevent adverse health effects to people or damage to property and the environment.

11.164       When a container is no longer used for the storage of dangerous goods and the container has been cleaned and is ‘free from dangerous goods’ (Safety Standards Regulation 8.34), employers should remove or obscure all labels. This process avoids confusion as to the contents of the container.

11.165       Employers should ensure that used packaging, which is not free of dangerous goods, retains the labelling that properly identifies the residual hazard.  When they are free of dangerous goods, the labelling should be removed. Disposal of containers that have not been cleaned free of dangerous goods may be subject to State and Territory environmental legislation.

11.166       Employers should not dispose of the container until the hazards are known and then only in an acceptable manner, after consultation with the relevant waste management authority if required.

11.167       Particular care should be taken if an employer becomes aware of unlabelled containers with unknown contents. It is good practice to isolate such a container until its contents are identified and it is appropriately labelled. If the contents cannot be identified, expert assistance should be obtained.

Provide information

Provide information for health and safety procedures

11.168       Safety Standards Regulation 8.35 requires that employers obtain, communicate and make available relevant information for dangerous goods stored and handled at the workplace. This will allow health and safety procedures to be developed, adopted and maintained in order to:

a)             ensure the safety and health of persons who may be affected by dangerous goods;

b)             enable persons to take appropriate action in case of emergencies arising from the storage and handling of dangerous goods; and

c)             prevent damage to property and the environment from the hazards arising from dangerous goods.

11.169       Where an employer develops and adopts health and safety procedures in accordance with the regulations, the employer should communicate those procedures to the relevant persons. People who may be affected by dangerous goods include:

a)             supervisors and employees;

b)             visitors and contractors;

c)             residents of adjoining properties, surrounding the workplace; and

d)            emergency services personnel.

11.170       The employer should ensure information provided is understood by all concerned, taking into account language and other communication difficulties. The information should include:

a)             relevant information extracted from, or based on the MSDS;

b)             information included on labels, safety signs, placards, registers, manifests and emergency procedure guides;

c)             extracts from chemical safety texts or proprietary databases;

d)            specific purpose guides prepared by industry groups; and

e)             other guides relevant to the hazards associated with the particular dangerous goods.

11.171       Where safety signs are used to warn persons about a hazard or inform of the responsibilities, the employer should ensure that the signs are displayed in a prominent position close to the particular hazard. Depending on the situation, the information may best be provided:

a)             in writing, such as written procedures, signs or instructions;

b)             in some form of practical training;

c)             in electronic format; or

d)            as a combination of any of the above.

11.172       Employers should seek safety information from all relevant sources including: