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Health and Safety at Work (Hazardous Substances) Regulations 2017

Published November 23, 2017 (last updated November 17, 2020) -

The Health and Safety at Work (Hazardous Substances) Regulations 2017 is in force as of 1 December 2017.  The change has seen hazardous substances legislation shift from the Hazardous Substances and New Organisms Act 1996 to now be fully covered by the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015.

What are hazardous substances?

Nearly every workplace will use some sort of hazardous substance, whether it is a cleaning product or a heavy duty fuel. Some examples of hazardous substances include:

  • agrichemicals used in primary production
  • fuels for a transport fleet
  • explosives for mining and quarrying
  • solvents and other general chemicals used in manufacturing
  • cleaning solutions critical for safe food production
  • specialty chemicals underpinning research and development

Why manage hazardous substances?

Around 150,000 New Zealand workplaces use, manufacture, handle or store hazardous substances. With the number of serious illness cases from work-related disease totalling 30,000 and a further 600-900 deaths, there are many attributable to exposure to hazardous substances. It is clear, from these figures, there is more to be done in making sure hazardous chemicals are managed correctly.

What should employers do?

Train the workers – what to do, location of emergency equipment and how to use it.
Training – record of training which outlines emergency training (what to do, location of emergency equipment and how to use it), certified handlers, first aid and expiry dates.
Create and maintain a list of inventory – readily available to produce to emergency services, during and after the workplace has been evacuated
Label – all products
Safety data sheet (SDS) – for each hazardous product in the workplace; and storing SDSs in a place where workers and emergency services can easily find them. SDS provide information on the hazardous substances, including on first aid and what to do in the event of an emergency.
Spill kit available – which is suitable for the workplace.

As of 1 December 2017, these changes are compulsory and employers (and PCBUs) need to understand what the changes mean for their business. To find out how to comply, employers should contact Employsure on 0800 568 012.

About Employsure

Employsure is one of New Zealand’s largest workplace relations advisers to small and medium businesses, with over 5,000 clients. We take the complexity out of workplace legislation to help small business employers protect their business and their people.

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