PUTTING YOU FIRST
1. WHAT ARE DANGEROUS GOODS? 2 1.1 The
difference between dangerous goods and hazardous
substances 2 1.2 Classes of dangerous goods 2
2. RESPONSIBILITIES 3 2.1 Manufacturers, importers
and suppliers 3 2.2 Employers 3 2.3 Employees 3
3. LABELLING, MARKING AND MSDS 4 3.1 Labels 4
3.2 Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) 4
4. DANGEROUS GOODS REGISTERS 6
5. MANAGING THE RISKS POSED BY DANGEROUS
GOODS 7 5.1 Consultation 7 5.2 Risk assessment
processes 7 5.3 Training 8
6. STORAGE 10 6.1 Incompatible goods 10
7. NOTIFICATION 12 7.1 Emergency plans 12
8. DISPOSAL 13
9. FURTHER SOURCES OF INFORMATION 14
1. WHAT ARE DANGEROUS GOODS?
Dangerous goods are substances that present an
immediate hazard to people, property or the environment.
They are classified on the basis of immediate physical or
chemical risk. The hazard presented may be due to
properties such as flammability, toxicity or chemical
Employers in control of dangerous goods should ensure they are familiar with the requirements of Part 8 of the
Occupational Health and Safety (Safety Standards) Regulations 1994 (the Regulations). Employers should also
ensure they are complying with legislative requirements when storing or handling any dangerous good as
defined within regulation 8.04(3) of the Regulations.
Examples of dangerous goods are substances that are corrosive, flammable, gaseous, spontaneously
combustible, toxic, oxidising or water-reactive. They include fuels, gases, paints, manufactured explosive
substances, bitumen, tar, pesticides, ammonium nitrate and acids. A list of dangerous goods can be found in
the Australian Dangerous Goods Code (ADG 7).
1.1 THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN DANGEROUS GOODS AND HAZARDOUS SUBSTANCES
Dangerous goods and hazardous substances are classified according to different criteria. Dangerous goods are
defined by their physical and chemical properties. Hazardous substances are defined by their direct health
effects on people, both immediate and long term. Hazardous substances are covered by Part 6 of the
Many substances are both dangerous goods and hazardous substances. Where there is an overlap between
the two groups, both sets of laws apply.
1.2 CLASSES OF DANGEROUS GOODS
Dangerous goods are grouped into different classes according to the most significant risk presented. There are
nine classes, some having divisions. Each class or division is represented by a unique identifying label.
A complete table of the dangerous goods classes and subclasses can be found at regulation 8.05 of the
Regulations or in Part 11.11 of the Occupational Health and Safety Code of Practice 2008 (the Code of
Class labels for dangerous goods are described in Australian Standard AS 1216:2006 ‘Class labels for
The National Transport Commission website has a complete set of downloadable class labels which are
consistent with the latest Australian Dangerous Goods Code (AGD 7).
2.1 MANUFACTURERS, IMPORTERS AND SUPPLIERS
The Regulations outline the duties of manufacturers and suppliers of dangerous goods including, but not limited
> determining substances as dangerous goods
> preparing and supplying safety information such as Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS)
> containing, packaging and labelling the goods in a way that complies with legislation
> filling gas cylinders.
The Occupational Health and Safety Act 1991 (OHS Act) requires employers to provide and maintain, as far as
is practicable, a working environment that is safe and without risks to health.
Part 8 of the Regulations provides for matters which employers must follow if they use, store or handle
dangerous goods within their workplaces. Employers are not limited to, but must:
> obtain information such as MSDS from manufacturers and suppliers and make the MSDS and other
relevant safety information readily available to employees
> ensure placards are positioned within the workplace correctly
> undertake a risk management process for the storage and handling of dangerous goods
> maintain a register of all dangerous goods stored or handled at the workplace
> consult with employees on a range of issues relating to the safe use of dangerous goods
> provide adequate training and supervision to employees and contractors
> develop emergency plans in consultation with emergency services and adjoining workplaces
> notify Comcare about the use and storage of dangerous goods if manifest quantities are held at the
Employers within the Commonwealth jurisdiction may still be required to obtain licences from state or territory
regulators and follow the regulatory requirements under which these licences are issued.
Dangerous Goods Ready Reckoner (DGRR)
The DGRR is a computer application developed by SafeWork Australia to assist persons managing quantities of
dangerous goods. It is designed to determine the requirements essential for complying with the Regulations.
Comcare invites all agencies interested in sub-licensing the use of the DGRR to contact the Major Hazard
Facilities team at HelpDesk-HAZMAT@comcare.gov.au
Employees have a general duty to take reasonable care of their own health and safety.
When working with dangerous goods employees should:
> engage in consultation with the employer
> follow risk management procedures and processes
> use Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) correctly
> provide the employer with feedback about the risk management process, where appropriate
> report any matter that may affect the employer’s ability to comply with legislation.
3. LABELLING, MARKING AND MSDS
Under Part 8 of the Regulations, there are a wide range of labelling, placarding, marking and identification
requirements for the storage and handling of dangerous goods. Such requirements apply to a variety of areas
> marking and identifying containers
> HAZCHEM signs
> shorthand information for emergency services personnel
> the type of fire extinguishing agent required, such as water or foam
> details of violent reactions
> suggested PPE
> information about whether to dilute an effluent
> evacuation procedures
> placarding of bulk containers, including specific requirements such as the form, size, layout, content and
location of placards.
A label can be described as an appropriate group of written, printed or graphic information elements that is
affixed to, printed on, or attached to a container of dangerous goods.
In the workplace labels on dangerous goods should include information on the hazards, plus instructions and
information on the safe storage, handling, use and disposal of the dangerous goods. The label and MSDS are
important sources of information that may be used to inform hazard and risk assessments, and establish
appropriate work practices to control the risks associated with use of dangerous goods in the workplace.
Requirements for preparing a label
Part 8 of the Regulations states that workplace dangerous goods must be labeled in accordance with the ADG
Code and include other information necessary to protect the health and safety of persons. This includes
information that alerts users to the particular hazardous properties of the dangerous goods and any safety
precautions the users need to take.
The National Code of Practice for the Labelling of Workplace Substances includes risk and safety phrases that
relate to the health hazards and physicochemical hazards, plus other guidance on labelling.
The National Transport Commission website has a set of downloadable class labels which are consistent with
the latest Australian Dangerous Goods Code (AGD 7).
3.2 MATERIAL SAFETY DATA SHEETS (MSDS)
A MSDS is a document prepared by the manufacturer of a dangerous good and the supplier of the dangerous
good. It describes the properties and uses of a particular dangerous good. A MSDS includes:
1. Identification of the material and supplier.
2. Hazard identification.
3. Composition/Information on ingredients.
4. First aid measures.
5. Fire fighting measures.
6. Accidental release measures.
7. Handling and storage.
8. Exposure controls/personal protection.
9. Physical and chemical properties.
10. Stability and reactivity.
11. Toxicology information.
12. Ecological information.
13. Disposal considerations.
14. Transport information.
15. Regulatory information.
16. Other information.
Without a MSDS the user of the dangerous good could remain unaware of the dangerous nature of the
substance, the health and safety risks, and the relevant emergency procedures.
Employers have a legal obligation to obtain a MSDS on or before the first supply of the dangerous good. The
MSDS must be readily available.
Please see the National Code of Practice for the Preparation of Material Safety Data Sheets [NOHSC: 2011] for
information related to the above 16 subject headers required on a MSDS.
4. DANGEROUS GOODS REGISTERS
If an employer stores or handles any amount of dangerous
goods they must maintain a register of these goods.
Regulation 8.59 requires employers to keep an updated
register listing each of the dangerous goods stored or
handled at a workplace and the relevant MSDS. This
register must be readily accessible to employees in a
Regulation 8.39 requires that employers keep a register of manifest quantities of dangerous goods for
emergency purposes where the total quantity of dangerous goods exceeds the manifest quantities in schedule 7
of the Regulations. This register must be readily accessible to both Comcare and emergency services.
Employers are advised to regularly maintain and review all dangerous goods registers to ensure accuracy,
currency and availability.
When an employer plans to store or handle manifest quantities of dangerous goods, they must notify Comcare.
For more information on notifications see section 7 of this publication.
For more information on emergency plans see section 7 of this publication.
5. MANAGING THE RISKS POSED BY DANGEROUS
Incidents range from uncontrolled emissions and loss of
containment to physicochemical effects such as fire and
explosion, which can cause death, serious injury and
large-scale damage to property and the surrounding
The health effects most associated with dangerous goods include heat or chemical burns, blast injuries, and
acute health effects such as poisoning and asphyxiation from exposure to dangerous goods or any toxic by-
products. Negative health effects can result from a single contact with dangerous goods.
Employees’ experience and expertise can significantly improve workplace health and safety, and aid the
development of a comprehensive risk management process. Regulation 8.57 requires that employers consult
employees who are likely to be affected by the storage and handling of dangerous goods at the workplace.
Employees should be consulted on:
> induction, training and supervision
> provision of information
> hazard identification, risk management processes and reviewing the effectiveness of control measures and
risk management processes
> any proposed changes to the storage and handling of dangerous goods in the workplace likely to affect
employee safety and health—this includes consultation on the introduction of a new dangerous good.
5.2 RISK ASSESSMENT PROCESSES
Employers have a duty to identify hazards, assess associated risks and implement a system of risk control
measures to eliminate or reduce the risk as far as practicable. An effective risk management process not only
ensures compliance with legislation but is an integral component for ensuring safe outcomes at work.
Employers can manage risks by undertaking the four-step management process:
STEP DESCRIPTION PRACTICAL EXAMPLES
1. Identify the Identify all dangerous goods used Review all reasonably available health and safety information.
hazard at the workplace and the This could include:
circumstances that could give rise > labels and MSDS
to an injury or illness.
> workplace incident reports
Identifying dangerous goods
> physical workplace inspection—verifying the type, quantity
involves determining each
and location of each dangerous good
product’s chemical and physical
properties, precautions for use > checking regulations to determine the storage quantity limits
and safe storage and handling > consulting with employees and HSRs.
2. Assess the Assess the likelihood and severity > Consult with employees and determine if there is sufficient
risks of the hazard. Examine how the expertise within the workplace to conduct the risk assessment
associated dangerous goods are stored and or whether external advice is required.
with the handled. Consider: > Employers may want to consider the use of high-level
hazard > the inherent hazards structured risk assessment processes such as Hazard
> manufacturing/transport Operability Studies or Hazard Analysis.
processes > Consider hazards arising from sources outside the workplace.
> potential reaction between
dangerous goods and other
> how the goods are used,
including any equipment
> the types of incidents that have
3. Control the Follow the hierarchy of controls. > Eliminate the risk (hazard or activity).
risk A combination of controls may be > Substitute or modify the hazard, perhaps by:
necessary to minimise the risk to – reducing the quantity of dangerous goods
health and safety posed by – substituting with a less dangerous good
dangerous goods. – using the same dangerous goods but in a less hazardous
> Isolate the hazard by separating the dangerous goods or
storing them in a distant location—this can involve erecting a
barrier between the dangerous goods and employees.
> Use engineering controls to control the hazard at its source
by minimising the exposure to dangerous goods through
suppression or containment (this could include local exhaust
ventilation or extraction systems).
> Use administrative controls to ensure that employees are
appropriately trained. This may include:
– excluding unessential persons from a work area and
reducing the number of employees exposed
– rotating shifts to reduce the period of employee exposure
– regular cleaning processes to remove contamination from
– providing means for the safe storage and disposal of
– providing regular training for employees concerning the
hazards associated with dangerous goods and the specific
risk management processes in place to minimise risk to
health and safety.
> Provide employees with personal protective equipment and
provide training in the correct use, maintenance and storage
of this equipment.
> Develop an accessible plan of the risk management
processes including a plan for emergencies.
4. Review the Review the risk assessment and > Consult with employees and encourage feedback on the risk
process controls regularly to monitor management process.
effectiveness > Review workplace incident reports to identify any possible
areas for improvement.
A comprehensive guide to managing the risks associated with storing and handling dangerous goods can be
found in Part 11 of the Code of Practice. A list of specific risk control measures relating to storing and handling
dangerous goods can be found at Part 11.66 of the Code of Practice. A general risk management approach is
outlined in Part 1 of the Regulations and Code of Practice.
Training is an essential part of any risk management strategy. Under regulation 8.58, employers have a duty to
ensure that employees involved in the storage and handling of dangerous goods are provided with induction,
information, training and supervision appropriate for each risk associated with the employee’s duties. This
includes information and instruction relating to:
> properties of the dangerous goods
> the nature of the hazards
> processes for identifying, assessing and controlling risks
> the use and maintenance of measures for the control of each risk
> safety systems
> emergency plans and equipment
> the proper use and maintenance of personal protection equipment (PPE).
Employers should ensure that the competency level of employees is appropriate and that any training programs
are regularly reviewed. Employers must keep records of which employees have been trained and the type of
training they have completed.
The way dangerous goods are stored is integral to minimising risks to health and safety. When storing
dangerous goods, it may be necessary to employ a variety of segregation techniques, including:
Distance or inert Isolating the goods by storing them some distance apart, or separating them from each other by
materials placing inert materials between the incompatible goods.
Cut-off storage Using separate rooms or enclosures, isolate the incompatible goods with fire rated partitions that
are impervious to vapours and liquids. This is useful for materials that may react violently or
have a high burning rate.
Detached storage Storing incompatible goods in separate buildings. This may be useful for ‘dangerous when wet’
goods such as calcium carbonide or aluminium phospide, which react with water to create a
toxic gas. A separate building without a water fire protection system may be required.
6.1 INCOMPATIBLE GOODS
Some dangerous goods are incompatible with each other. Under regulation 8.19, an employer must ensure that
dangerous goods are separated from incompatible substances. The MSDS should be checked for this
Dangerous goods are only compatible if their interaction does not result in a reaction that may give rise to an
explosion, fire, harmful reaction, or create flammable, toxic or corrosive vapours.
If goods are not compatible they must not be stored together in a way that allows them to come into contact. In
these circumstances, segregation techniques are vital for minimising risks to health and safety. Certain
incompatible goods will require different segregation techniques. When storing dangerous goods, the MSDS
should always be checked.
The segregation chart in this publication is a general guide only. The compatibility chart in Australian Standard
AS 3833:2007 ‘The storage and handling of mixed classes of dangerous goods, in packages and intermediate
bulk containers’ provides a more complete and detailed analysis of compatibility. MSDS should also include
CLASS 2.1 2.2 SR 2.3 3 4.1 4.2 4.3 5.1 5.2 6.1 8 9 CL
2.1 1 2 3
2.2 2 1 2 2 2 3
2.2 Sub Risk (SR)
2 2 3 3
2.3 9 3 3
3 1 2 2 2
4.1 1 2 2
4.2 1 2 2
4.3 1 7
5.1 2 4 3 3
5.2 5 3,5 3,5
6.1 2 3 3 3 3,5 1 8 2
8 2 2 2 8 6 3
9 3 3 3 3 2 2 2 7 3 3,5 2 3 1 2
2 2 1
1. The MSDS should be checked—in most cases materials of the same class will be compatible but not all
materials assigned different UN numbers are compatible.
2. The subsidiary risk compatibility must be checked to ensure that the goods are compatible.
3. Exceptions apply—for example, segregation is required if one of the goods is a fire risk substance.
4. Not all 5.1 goods are compatible—for example, both ammonium nitrate and calcium hypochlorite are
incompatible with some 5.1 class dangerous goods.
5. Check the MSDS to ensure compatibility as organic peroxides are highly reactive substances.
6. If one of the goods is a concentrated strong alkali and another is a concentrated strong acid, they are
7. If water or foam is used as the fire fighting material or if there are goods in a water solution, class 4.3
goods must be segregated.
8. These goods are mostly compatible, but are incompatible if cyanide is the class 6.1 good and acid is the
class 8 good.
9. The toxic gases chlorine and ammonia must be separated as there is a risk of explosion.
Under the Regulations, employers must notify Comcare when:
> storing or handling quantities of dangerous goods in excess of manifest quantities set out in column 5,
Schedule 7 of the Regulations
> operating pipelines to transfer dangerous goods.
Notifications should be made before dangerous goods are stored or handled at the workplace.
Notifications for storing or handling dangerous goods must be renewed:
> every two years
> if there is a change in the amounts of dangerous goods stored or handled, or
> if there is a change in the risks associated with the dangerous goods at or outside the workplace.
For further information on calculating manifest quantities of dangerous goods and notifying Comcare, please
see the following documents:
NOTIFICATION FORM INSTRUCTIONS FOR COMPLETION
Manifest Quantities of Dangerous Goods and Pipelines Manifest Quantities of Dangerous Goods and Use
which Transfer Dangerous Goods [pdf] of Pipelines to Transfer Dangerous Goods—
7.1 EMERGENCY PLANS
Under regulation 8.27, employers must develop an emergency plan and provide a copy to emergency services
where dangerous goods are stored in excess of the manifest quantity. Emergency plans must be communicated
to people at the workplace who may be affected by or respond to an emergency.
Employers must also ensure that appropriate equipment is available for dealing with the emergency. The
emergency plan must be reviewed at least every five years or earlier if there is a change in circumstances at the
Under regulation 8.34, if plant, pipework, equipment or a
container is no longer intended to be used for storing or
handling dangerous goods, or is to be disposed of, the
employer should ensure that the equipment is free from
dangerous goods or otherwise safe.
The Commonwealth does not regulate the disposal of dangerous goods. Relevant state and territory legislation
and arrangements with local waste management authorities apply. All employers have a legal duty to care for
their waste and, in some circumstances, the disposal of dangerous goods may need to be registered with the
relevant Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). A list of the various state and territory EPAs is provided
STATE / TERRITORY LINK
Australian Capital Territory www.envcomm.act.gov.au
New South Wales www.epa.nsw.gov.au
Northern Territory www.epa.nt.gov.au
South Australia www.epa.sa.gov.au
Western Australia www.epa.wa.gov.au
Managers should consider the following points when disposing of dangerous goods:
> Identify materials for disposal.
> Refer to the MSDS for advice on disposal and ensure a copy is provided with all items being disposed.
> Ensure disposal containers are correctly and clearly labelled to identify the contents.
> Clearly mark containers for disposal.
> If necessary, seek advice on disposal containers and methods—this may vary for small or large scale
> Ensure incompatible items pending disposal are stored correctly.
> Keep a record of what is being disposed, including how, when, where, and why.
> Change dangerous goods placarding if appropriate.
9. FURTHER SOURCES OF INFORMATION
Australian Dangerous Goods Code
These standards are available from International Standards online at the SAI Global website:
> AS 1319 Safety Signs for the Occupational Environment
> AS 1345 Rules for the identification of piping, conduits and ducts
> AS/NZS 3833 The storage and handling of mixed classes of dangerous goods in packages and
intermediate bulk containers
> AS/NZS HB76 Dangerous goods—Initial emergency response guide
National Code of Practice for the Preparation of Material Safety Data Sheets [NOHSC: 2011]
National Industrial Chemicals Notification and Assessment Scheme (NICNAS)
National Transport Commission (NTC)
Occupational Health and Safety Act 1991
Occupational Health and Safety Code of Practice 2008
Occupational Health and Safety (Safety Standards) Regulations 1994
Safe Work Australia
1300 366 979 | COMCARE.GOV.AU