Our expectations for PCBUs who manage or control a workplace whose labelling on containers of hazardous substances or hazardous waste was damaged or removed in Cyclone Gabrielle.
PCBUs are required to label hazardous substances and hazardous waste at their workplace under regulation 2.1, 2.2 and 2.3 of the Health and Safety at Work (Hazardous Substances) Regulations 2017 (the Regulations).
Temporary labelling should be placed on containers if it’s safe to do so
We expect PCBUs to place temporary labels on hazardous substance and hazardous waste containers where you can safely do so.
The temporary label on hazardous substance containers should have the following information:
- the product name or chemical name, and
- a hazard pictogram and/or a hazard statement consistent with the classification of the substance. (Health and Safety at Work (Hazardous Substances) Regulations 2017, Regulation 2.1(2) and 2.1(3)
The temporary label on hazardous waste should have the following information:
- the nature of the waste. For example, whether it’s flammable waste or chlorinated solvent waste,
- if known the name, address, and business phone number of the producer of the waste, and
- a hazard pictogram and/or hazard statement with the classification of the waste (if known). (Regulation 2.3(2))
The temporary labels must be in English (Regulation 2.1(2) and 2.3(2)) and able to be read easily. They can be handwritten.
You must change the temporary labels to the correct permanent label as soon as possible.
What we expect you to do if there are containers with unknown hazardous substances or waste
In some cases, you may not be able to identify the contents of a container due to damage to or movement of containers in the Cyclone. You must not use the hazardous substance until it can be identified.
In these circumstances we expect you to:
- Refer to your inventory and attempt to identify the substance or waste in the container. Substance location and container size listed on the inventory may help.
- Contact the supplier/s of the hazardous substance/s held on site to see if they can provide any identifying information, such as container shapes or sizes.
- Place a temporary label on the item pending identification stating: “Caution – Do not use – Unknown Substance”.
If you can’t identify the hazardous substance or waste, you should treat it as the most hazardous substance, not accounted for, in your inventory until it can be identified.
You should not store unidentified substances or waste together or with other potentially incompatible materials unless you are certain, based on your inventory, that it’s safe to do so.
Substances that can’t be identified must be appropriately disposed of. You should use a specialist hazardous substance disposal company who can safety identify and dispose of substances.
Our approach to enforcement
We are unlikely to prioritise enforcement action against PCBUs with damaged or removed labelling due
to Cyclone Gabrielle where:
- reasonable steps; are being taken to identify and label containers of hazardous substances or
waste and any temporary labelling has been replaced at the first available opportunity, or
- access issues caused by Cyclone Gabrielle are significantly impacting your ability to access your
site to identify and label the substance or waste.
If we do decide to act, our response will reflect the risk gap.