Labelled chemicals on shelf: recent new rules for hazardous substances and wastes

About 1 in 3 NZ businesses manufacture, use or handle hazardous substances. Recently new requirements came into force regarding the storage of those substances, as well as the handling, storing, and transporting of hazardous waste. The changes will affect around 150,000 businesses in New Zealand, such as factories, agricultural businesses, printers, collision repairers and food processing plants.

From 1 June 2019 hazardous substance locations, or HSL, are required to be established when some class 6 (toxic) and class 8 (corrosive) substances exceed the quantity thresholds set out in the legislation. These quantity thresholds are higher for farms which are 4 hectares or more.

Establishing an HSL involves:

  • Setting up specific locations for the safe storage of hazardous substances
  • The storage sites must be inspected and certified by a WorkSafe New Zealand-authorised compliance certifier

To assist with the task of compliance, WorkSafe have a handy hazardous substances calculator which businesses can use to create an inventory of the hazardous substances they have on site. The online tool will also detail the applicable regulatory requirements which need to be met, based on the substances entered into their inventory.

Hazardous substances are a major contributor to the estimated 600-900 deaths and 30,000 cases of ill health in New Zealand each year as a result from work-related disease. The Health and Safety at Work Act, under which the new rules fall, aims to manage H&S risks and the potential for harm within the workplace. In other words, businesses run the risk of prosecution from regulators even if no serious incident or harm occurs - a history of non-compliance alone could lead to large fines and penalties.

To learn more about the changes and ensure your workplace is up to code, visit the WorkSafe website. They have many resources, guides and information on the safe handling and storing of hazardous substances.