Hazardous and Dangerous Materials – Is your workplace a potential Titanic disaster

By Mark Hamon, Risk Management Training and Safety Consultant Sydney. When asked about the potential risk of a disaster in his shipping career, Captain of the Titanic EJ Smith said “it will never happen to me”. It’s very easy to put off safety commitments for another day until a problem actually occurs (reactive safety culture).  Hazardous and dangerous materials can pose a serious threat like fires, explosions, toxic release, employee injuries or fatalities. Reactive decisions after a disaster won’t help when emergency services are onsite and safety inspectors start asking you the hard questions.  If chemical related disaster happened right now in your business, would the blame be pointed at you? Workplace duty of care requires an employer to ensure they manage all hazardous and dangerous materials , so it supports employee health and safety. Any breach with Duty of Care means you as the business owner or manager could face litigation risk and possible prosecution. Hazardous substances – Where employee exposure, can result in adverse effect on health e.g. cancer Dangerous goods – substances which present a  hazard to people, environment or the property, due to their toxicity, chemical or physical properties. What can I do to fix this concern?
  • Obtain a copy of relevant legislation, standards, and codes of practice or industry guidelines for managing dangerous and hazardous substances.
  • Audit review of all hazardous and dangerous substances. Record container amounts for each class/division and packing group of each substance and storage location. Do not store incompatible substances together e.g. Dangerous Goods Segregation Chart
  • Establish a risk register for all hazardous and dangerous substances with easy access for employees or emergency services.
  • Ensure MSDS or SDS information is available for all hazardous or dangerous substances, and complete a risk review of each substance onsite.
  • Keep your chemicals or substances in approved storage facilities e.g. national standards
  • Keep appropriate resources onsite including: PPE, spills kits, firefighting equipment, HAZCHEM signage and employee emergency plans.
  • Make sure all dangerous and hazardous substances are clearly labelled.
  • Evaluate and document risk controls for all hazardous and dangerous substances.
  • Ensure all employees are trained, competent and authorised in the handling, storage and use of dangerous and hazardous substances onsite. Evaluate and review all employee training.
  • Carry out ongoing audits/ reviews for the handling and use of hazardous and dangerous substances.
If you have any questions about hazardous and dangerous substances in your workplace and looking for a solution to your needs then get on the phone (obligation free) and contact KONA Group’s Risk Management Training and Safety Consultant Sydney Specialist.  Mark Hamon can be contacted at info@KONA.com.au or call 1300 611 288