Major hazard facilities (MHFs) are industrial sites such as:

  • oil refineries
  • chemical manufacturing sites
  • gas-processing plants
  • LPG storage facilities
  • some warehouses and transport depots.

These sites store, handle or process large quantities of hazardous chemicals or materials.

These chemicals are listed in the Work Health and Safety Regulations 2012 (SA), along with their threshold quantities.  Any facility that has listed hazardous chemicals in excess of their threshold quantity is a major hazard facility. MHFs must be licensed and follow strict legal requirements.

Operators of major hazard facilities must:

  • identify all major incidents and major incident hazards for the facility
  • conduct and document a safety assessment of the facility's operation, that includes a comprehensive and systematic investigation and analysis of all aspects of potential risks to health and safety
  • implement control measures that eliminate or minimise the risk of a major incident occurring
  • prepare an emergency plan
  • establish a Safety Management System
  • prepare a safety case which demonstrates that the Safety Management System will control risks arising from incidents and incident hazards. It also needs to assess the adequacy of measures required to control risks associated with the occurrence of major incidents.

Notification

Operators of any facility (or proposed facility) must notify SafeWork SA if they have, or are likely to have, any chemical in excess of 10% of their threshold quantity, as set out in Schedule 15 of the Work Health and Safety Regulations 2012 (SA).

The table below contains some examples of common chemicals, their threshold quantity and notification quantity (note that this is not an exhaustive list).

Hazardous chemicalDescription Threshold quantity
(tonnes)
Notification quantity
(tonnes)
LP Gases UN 1011, 1012, 1075, 1077, 1978 200 20 or more
Methane or Natural Gas UN 1971, 1972 200 20 or more
Chlorine UN 1017 25 2.5 or more
Ammonium Nitrate UN 1942 2,500 250 or more
Flammable Materials Liquids that meet the criteria for Class 3 Packing Group II or III (eg Unleaded Petrol) 50,000 5,000 or more
Peroxides Organic Peroxides that meet the criteria for Division 5.2 (eg Hydrogen Peroxide) 200 20 or more
Toxic Solids and Liquids Materials that meet the criteria for Very Toxic  in table 15.3 (eg Sodium Cyanide) 20 2 or more

Your notification will ensure that all potential major hazard facilities are made known to SafeWork SA and will allow SafeWork SA to determine if your site is a major hazard facility. If your facility was previously not determined as a major hazard facility, you must notify SafeWork SA again if there is an increase in the quantity of Schedule 15 chemicals.

If your facility is determined as a major hazard facility, you must notify SafeWork SA if there is a change of operator or any change in the quantity of Schedule 15 chemicals.

Licensing

Operators of major hazard facilities are granted licences of up to five years. Once your facility has been determined to be a major hazard facility, you have 3 months in which to submit a safety case outline and 24 months in which to submit a safety case and apply for a licence. SafeWork SA will send you the licence application form.

Operator’s obligations

Prepare safety case outline

Once a facility is determined to be a major hazard facility, you have 3 months to provide us with a safety case outline. It must include:

  • a written plan for the preparation of the safety case, including key steps and timelines
  • a description of the methods to be used in preparing the safety case, including methods for ensuring that all of the information in the safety case is accurate and up to date
  • details of the resources that will be used in preparing the safety case, including the number of people involved and their knowledge and experience
  • details of consultation that occurred when preparing the outline
  • details of consultation that will occur when preparing the safety case
  • a draft of the emergency plan
  • a summary of security arrangements.

Further information can be found in the Guide for Major Hazard Facilities: Developing a Safety Case Outline developed by Safe Work Australia.

Identify major incidents and major incident hazards

As an operator of a determined major hazard facility, you must identify and keep a record of all major incidents and all hazards which could give rise to a major incident, as well as the methods used in identifying these. You must also outline any external conditions, such as security issues, that may give rise to major incidents.

Conduct safety assessment

You must conduct, and document, a comprehensive and systematic safety assessment in relation to the operation of the major hazard facility. It must include the:

  • nature of each major incident and each hazard that might give rise to a major incident
  • likelihood of each hazard causing a major incident
  • potential magnitude and severity of each major incident
  • control measures considered
  • control measures implemented.

Further information can be found in the Guide for Major Hazard Facilities: Safety Assessment developed by Safe Work Australia.

Control risks

You must implement controls the:

  • eliminate or minimise the risk of a major incident occurring so far as is reasonably practicable
  • minimise the magnitude and severity of the consequences should a major incident occur

Prepare emergency plan

You must prepare an emergency plan for the facility. In preparing the emergency plan, you must consult with emergency service organisations with responsibility for the area as well as the local authority. The plan must:

  • address all health and safety consequences of a major incident occurring
  • include all matters outlined in Schedule 16 of the Regulations
  • provide for testing of emergency procedures, including frequency of testing.

You must keep a copy of the plan at the facility and give a copy to the emergency services you have consulted and any other relevant emergency services.

You must test the emergency plan before you apply for a licence.

Further information can be found in the Guide for Major Hazard Facilities: Emergency plans developed by Safe Work Australia.

Establish a safety management system

You must establish and implement a safety management system for the operation of the facility.

The system must:

  • provide a system for the management of all aspects of risk control in relation to major incidents at the facility
  • be documented and readily accessible to persons who use it
  • be used by the operator as the primary means of ensuring the safe operation of the facility
  • include the operator’s safety policy
  • include the operator’s safety objectives and the systems and procedures that will be used to achieve them
  • include matters outlined in Schedule 17 of the Regulations.

Further information can be found in the Guide for Major Hazard Facilities: Safety Management Systems developed by Safe Work Australia.

Security measures

You must make physical security and cyber security arrangements and consult with the police.

Prepare a safety case

You must send us a safety case within 24 months of the facility being determined to be a major hazard facility.

The safety case must include:

  • a summary of all major incidents and and any identified major incident hazards
  • a summary of the safety assessment
  • a summary of the emergency plan
  • a summary of the safety management system
  • a description of the security arrangements
  • a description of the consultation that took place with workers in relation to the preparation of the safety case
  • additional matters outlined in Schedule 18 of the Regulations.

The safety case must demonstrate:

  • that the safety management system will control risks arising from major incidents and major incident hazards
  • that the measures implemented to control the risks associated with major incidents are adequate

The safety case must also include a statement signed by the operator. If the operator is a body corporate, the safety case must be signed by the most senior executive officer of the body corporate who resides in this State. The statement confirms that:

  • the information provided in the safety case is accurate and up to date
  • the operator understands the facility’s health and safety risks associated with major incidents that may occur.
  • the control measures to be implemented by the operator, so far as is reasonably practicable—
  • will eliminate the risk of a major incident occurring
  • if it is not reasonably practicable to eliminate the risk of a major incident occurring—will minimise the risk; and
  • in the event of a major incident occurring—will minimise its magnitude and the severity of its health and safety consequences
  • all persons involved in implementing the safety management system have the knowledge and skills necessary for them to carry out their role safely and competently.

Further information can be found in the Guide for Major Hazard Facilities: Preparation of a safety case and Guide for Major Hazard Facilities: Safety case: Demonstrating the adequacy of safety management and control measures developed by Safe Work Australia.

Provide information to the community

You must provide information to the local community and local authority.

This includes:

  • the name and location of the facility
  • the name, position and contact details of a contact person from whom information may be obtained
  • a description of the facility’s operations
  • details about how the community will be informed of a major incident occurring
  • details about the actions to be taken by the community in the event of a major incident
  • a summary of the safety case.

Further information can be found in the Guide for Major Hazard Facilities: Providing information to the community developed by Safe Work Australia.

Consult workers

You must allow the workers at the facility to contribute to identifying major incidents and hazards, deciding what control measures are considered, and conducting a review.

Workers must be consulted with in relation to the:

  • safety case outline
  • emergency plan
  • safety management system
  • safety case.

Further information can be found in the Guide for Major Hazard Facilities: Information, training and instruction for workers and other persons at the facility developed by Safe Work Australia.

Page last updated: 21 April 2020