Businesses are required to have an inventory of all their hazardous substances. It’s important to know what hazardous substances you have in order to safely manage their risks to your workers and others who may be exposed to hazardous substances in your workplace.

There are three main things you need to do:

  • have an inventory of all the hazardous substances used, handled, manufactured or stored at your workplace
  • keep it up-to-date
  • make sure it is available to emergency services workers.

What’s an inventory and why do I need one?

An inventory is a list of hazardous substances (including hazardous waste) that are used, handled, manufactured or stored at any workplace that you, as a person conducting a business or undertaking (PCBU), manage or control. It will help you understand the substances you have on site, work out the requirements you must comply with and plan your emergency procedures.

Your inventory tells emergency workers, compliance certifiers or health and safety inspectors what hazardous substances you have. It must be readily accessible to any emergency service workers attending the workplace, both during an emergency and after the workplace has been evacuated.

What does ‘readily accessible’ mean?

This means that the document is capable of being accessed without difficulty in hard copy, electronic, or other form.

What do I include on my inventory?

For each hazardous substance your inventory must include:

  • the substance’s name and UN number (if available)
  • the maximum amount likely to be at the workplace
  • its location
  • any specific storage and segregation requirements
  • a current safety data sheet or a condensed version of the key information from the safety data sheet
  • any hazardous waste.

Can I have one inventory for my whole business?

You will need an inventory for each of the sites that you, as a PCBU, manage or control. If your business has multiple sites, you must have an inventory for each.

How often do I update my inventory?

An inventory must be kept up-to-date but it’s not a daily calculation of quantities held. Instead, it represents the maximum quantity of each hazardous substance likely to be at each workplace. You will need to update your inventory whenever the substances change, or the maximum amount of substances likely to be at your workplace changes. When you update your inventory you should also review and, if needed update, the measures you take to manage your substances.

What if I only have small quantities of hazardous substances?

Any quantity of hazardous substance means you must have an inventory. However, one of the exceptions to this requirement is that you do not need an inventory for substances that are consumer products to be used in quantities, and ways, consistent with household use.

Are there any other exceptions to this rule?

There are two types of workplace with exceptions to the inventory requirement:

  • Transit depots. This is because goods in transit remain in their packaging and are subject to the Dangerous Good Transport Rules. Instead the PCBU at the transit depot must have a list of the product or chemical name and the quantities of each hazardous substance at the depot or transfer zone.
  • You don’t need an inventory if you are a laboratory using hazardous substances in research and development, analytical testing or teaching. (Laboratories do need to keep a record of tracked or unapproved substances).

Is there anything that can help me create my inventory?

The hazardous substances calculator(external link) is a valuable, time-saving tool available free of charge on the hazardous substances toolbox(external link). Using the Calculator you can create, edit and access your inventory online. There is also a workbook(external link) with an inventory form.

The calculator allows you to:

  • enter your workplace hazardous substances
  • locate the key requirements you must comply with across all your substances in your workplace.
  • locate the key requirements for individual substances or group standards.

Find out more

See our quick guide:

Inventory requirements for hazardous substances - quick guide (PDF 91 KB)