Employers are required to ensure that their plant and substances are in a safe condition and that their systems of work and the working environment are safe. They must:
- Obtain up-to-date Materials Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) from their suppliers of hazardous substances and ensure that this information is available to workers.
- Keep a register of all hazardous substances.
- Ensure that all chemical storage containers are suitable for the substance they contain and are correctly stored and labelled.
- Provide information, instruction and training to employees or contractors who could be exposed to hazardous substances.
- Monitor exposure levels and provide health surveillance where necessary.
- Assess and control all risks to employees or other persons who could be exposed to hazardous substances.
- Maintain records of all risk assessment reports, instruction and training associated with hazardous substances.
- Advise the local emergency service organisation about storage, location and quantities of any hazardous or dangerous substances kept on-site.
- You'll find more information on staff training and risk control in The answer section.
Employees must cooperate with their employers in the action taken to comply with the Act or Regulations. In particular, they should use or apply control measures as required and should cooperate with assessments, training programs and other action taken to protect health and safety.
Employees who become aware of any situation or incident that could be a source of danger to themselves or any other person must act immediately to protect their health and safety, and report the matter to the employer or relevant health and safety representative.
Manufacturer and importer responsibilities
A manufacturer or importer of a substance to be used at a workplace must determine whether the substance is hazardous to health. Some hazardous substances have been listed by the National Occupational Health and Safety Commission (NOHSC).
On this website you can find:
- List of Designated Hazardous Substances
- Approved Criteria for Classifying Hazardous Substances
- National Industrial Chemicals Notification and Assessment Scheme (NICNAS) for new chemicals manufactured in or imported into Australia. The assessment reports on this site contain useful health and safety information about the chemicals.
If a substance is determined to be hazardous to health, the manufacturer or importer must:
- label each container of the hazardous substance - the Approved Code of Practice for the Labelling of Workplace Substances describes how this should be done
- produce a Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) and keep it up-to-date - the Approved Code of Practice for the Preparation of a Material Safety Data Sheet describes how this should be done
- provide the MSDS to a purchaser on the occasion of the first sale
- provide the MSDS on request, to people who purchase the substance from retail outlets
- provide, on request, a copy of the relevant NICNAS summary report.
The South Australian Approved Codes of Practice for the Labelling of Workplace Substances and the Preparation of a Material Safety Data Sheet are available on the WorkCover website. Their national equivalents are available on the National Occupational Health and Safety Commission website.
Wholesaler and distributor responsibilities
If a substance is hazardous to health, wholesalers or distributors of that substance must:
- ensure that the container of the hazardous substance is appropriately labelled (this should normally have been done by the manufacturer/importer but if relabelling is needed the Approved Code of Practice for the Labelling of Workplace Substances describes how this should be done-also available on the NOHSC website
- provide a current MSDS (from the manufacturer or importer) to the purchaser on the first occasion that they supply to that person
- provide on request a current MSDS, a copy of any relevant NICNAS summary report and any other information that will assist in the safe use of the substance.
Retailers do not have duties as suppliers to provide information under the Hazardous Substances Regulations. However, they do have a general duty of care under the Occupational Health, Safety and Welfare (OHSW) Act 1986 (SA).