13.2 Hazardous substances

13.2 Hazardous Substances Regulations 2017

The Health and Safety at Work (Hazardous Substances) Regulations 2017 sets out the rules for work-related activities involving hazardous substances

Standard - what we'll be assessing on Evidence to provide for assessment

The practice complies with the  Hazardous Substances Regulations 2017.

  • An inventory of all the hazardous substances at your workplace, including substance type, quantity and location and associated data safety sheets. 
  • Hazardous substances in your workplace are added to the hazards and risks register. 
  • Team members working with hazardous substances are trained to work safely with them. 
  • Team members managing highly hazardous substances (eg , class 6.1A and 6.1B substances) have certified handling certificates or work directly under the supervision of a certified handler.

The Hazardous Substances Regulations 2017

The Health and Safety at Work (Hazardous Substances) Regulations 2017 sets out the rules for work-related activities involving hazardous substances.

A hazardous substance is any product or chemical with one or more of the following properties:

  • explosive: explodes or causes explosion.
  • flammable: ignites easily and burns rapidly
  • pxidising: could be gaseous, solid or liquid and can cause or intensify fire and explosion
  • toxic: can harm people if it enters the body through contact, being inhaled or ingested
  • corrosive: can cause severe skin burns and eye damage
  • ecotoxic: is toxic to the environment.

This regulation requires that any quantity of class 6.1A or 6.1B hazardous substances be under the personal control of a certified handler, or a certified handler must be physically present to supervise their use and provide assistance if needed. These substances in general practice could include phenol solution and formalin at certain concentrations.

On 30 April 2021, New Zealand adopted a new classification system for hazardous substances, the Globally Harmonised System (GHS). However, there is no change to the HSNO classification system used under the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 therefore there is no change to the workplace requirements for hazardous substances.

Inventory of hazardous substances

Before creating an inventory, it’s a good idea to review your hazardous substances and if possible, try to reduce the substances you have.

There are three main things you need to do:

  • make an initial inventory (list) of all the hazardous substances used at your workplace including hazardous waste (if any)
  • keep your inventory up-to-date and accurate
  • make sure your inventory is readily accessible to emergency services workers.

The simplest way to prepare an inventory is to use the Hazardous Substances Calculator on the WorkSafe website.

The hazardous substances, such as detergents, are not required to be entered into the inventory due to their grading, instead they must be entered into the practice’s hazards and risks register.

Training and certified handler training

Team members need to be aware of hazardous substances in their work area, along with the dangers they pose, and get the training and supervision necessary to work safely with and around them.

To determine whether a hazardous substance requires certified handler training, refer to the Health and Safety regulation 13.9

In general practice, hazardous substances range in severity from cleaning products to solutions such as phenol. Depending on the concentration, volume and/or severity of these properties, substances are graded using the Hazardous Substances and New Organisms Act 1996 (HSNO). The grading of the substance determines whether certified training is required or whether correctly documented inhouse training using the data sheet information will be sufficient.