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Selling dangerous goods in consumer packages

Overview of occupier duties for retailers.

Print or download a PDF version of this document Date Published: October 2013 Keycode: WSV1597/01/10.13 Division Author:

Background

This information sheet is intended to assist retailers who fall within the definition of 'occupier' and who sell dangerous goods in 'consumer packages'.

The Dangerous Goods (Storage and Handling) Regulations 2012 (DG Regulations) contain a number of occupier duties which will apply to these retailers.

This information sheet provides an overview of these duties and should be read together with WorkSafe's Code of Practice for the Storage and Handling of Dangerous Goods (DG Code), the Dangerous Goods Act 1985 and the DG Regulations.

A retailer is an occupier if they own the retail premises where dangerous goods are sold, or exercise control over the premises under a mortgage, lease or franchise.

Consumer packages are packages intended for retail display and sale. Some examples of dangerous goods commonly sold in consumer packages include pool chlorine, methylated spirits and solvent-based paints.

1. Consultation, instruction and supervision duties

Occupiers are required to consult with workers and any health and safety representatives (HSRs) on particular safety topics relating to dangerous goods. Occupiers must also provide workers and any HSRs with induction, information, training and supervision in relation to the safe storage and handling of dangerous goods. More information on these duties can be found in sections 12 and 13 of the DG Code.

Occupiers also have a duty to protect visitors to their premises by providing them with information, instructions and supervision in relation to the dangerous goods. A retailer may satisfy this duty by warning customers regarding the hazards and risks of dangerous goods and by encouraging customers to ask for assistance before opening any packages of dangerous goods. This is particularly an issue for retailers of solvent-based paints, where a customer may want to open the paint container to see the colour.

 

2. Hazard identification and risk control duties

Occupiers are also required to identify hazards at their premises and control the risks associated with these hazards. More information on hazard identification can be found in section 18.1 of the DG Code. While it is not a mandatory requirement, if occupiers are unsure about the risks associated with the identified hazards or what the appropriate risk controls are, a risk assessment should be undertaken. More information on risk assessment can be found in section 18.2 of the DG Code.

Occupiers have general duties to control risks at their premises associated with the storage and handling of dangerous goods, including risks to workers. Occupiers must eliminate risks so far as is reasonably practicable. If the risks cannot be eliminated, the occupier is then required to reduce risks so far as is reasonably practicable. Occupiers are also required to review risk controls at their premises and revise them if necessary. Section 19 of the DG Code contains further details on the general risk control duties.

Examples of how retailers may satisfy these general duties include:

  • keeping dangerous goods away from other retail goods (eg food) that may be contaminated if there is a leakage
  • keeping dangerous goods in cool well ventilated areas away from heat sources and where they are unlikely to be knocked over by customers
  • not storing packages of liquid dangerous goods above solid dangerous goods packed in paper or absorbent packaging, and
  • providing retail staff with appropriate personal protective equipment such as gloves and masks if they are likely to open the dangerous goods eg for tinting solvent-based paint.

 

In addition to general risk control duties, occupiers have specific risk control duties associated with particular aspects of the storage and handling activities. While the same specific risk control duties apply to all occupiers, some of these will likely be more relevant for retailers and are discussed below.

Occupiers are required to ensure the risk associated with the chemical and physical reaction between the dangerous goods and other substances at the premises is eliminated, or if this is not reasonably practicable, reduced so far as is reasonably practicable. A retailer who sells pool chlorine (calcium hypochlorite) for example, may satisfy this duty by storing these dangerous goods away from oils and other incompatible materials.

Additionally, occupiers must so far as is reasonably practicable prevent unauthorised persons from accessing the premises. In a retail context, this could be achieved by using metal barriers to prevent persons from entering after hours

The duties above do not represent the complete list of specific risk control duties applicable to occupiers. More information on the entire range of these duties can be found at sections 21 to 23 of the DG Code.

3. Other duties

Occupiers also have a range of other duties outlined in the table below. If applicable to you, see the DG Code sections referenced in this table for more detailed information on these duties.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           

Obtain Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) / Safety Data Sheet (SDS) and make this available

Occupiers are required to obtain a current version of the MSDS/SDS for dangerous goods stored and handled at their premises. They must also make this available to workers.

  

Exception for retailers: It is not necessary to obtain an MSDS/SDS for dangerous goods at a retail outlet that are in consumer packages and remain sealed and unopened until sold. However, if an MSDS/SDS is not obtained, it is necessary to obtain information on the safe storage and handling of the dangerous goods, and make this available to workers.

  

DG Code Section 14

Register

Occupiers must maintain a register of all dangerous goods stored and handled at their premises.

  

Exception for retailers: It is not necessary to record in the register dangerous goods supplied in packages that are so small they do not need to be marked under the Australian Code for the Transport of Dangerous Goods by Road and Rail (Seventh edition or subsequent edition) (ADG Code).

  

DG Code Section 16

Marking

Occupiers must retain the original inner or sole packaging of the dangerous goods which bears the ADG Code/Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals (Third revised edition or Fourth revised edition) label.

  

DG Code Section 17

Clean-up equipment

Occupiers are required to ensure equipment and materials for containing and cleaning-up reasonably foreseeable escapes/spills/leaks of dangerous goods are kept on the premises and accessible by persons on the premises.

  

Paragraphs titled 'Equipment for spill containment and clean-up' at the end of DG Code Section 21.8

Fire protection system

Occupiers must provide a fire protection system for their premises.

  

Note: Occupiers with dangerous goods in excess of the 'fire protection quantity' in Schedule 2 of the DG Regulations must obtain and utilise advice from the emergency services authority in relation to the fire protection system for the premises.

  

DG Code Section 24

Emergency and incident response

Occupiers have particular duties regarding their initial response to an emergency, incident investigation, and review and revision of risk controls following an incident.

  

It is also recommended that occupiers develop emergency procedures (if they are not already required to prepare an emergency plan) and report incidents to the emergency services authority in certain circumstances.

  

The terms 'emergency', 'emergency services authority' and 'incident' have specific definitions under the DG Regulations. See Appendix 10 of the DG Code for these definitions.

  

DG Code Sections 25.2 – 25.4

Placarding

Occupiers must install placards at their premises if the quantity of dangerous goods stored and handled at the premises exceeds the 'placarding quantity' in Schedule 2 of the DG Regulations.

  

Exception for retailers: It is not necessary to install placards at the premises if the dangerous goods which exceed the 'placarding quantity' are used to refuel a vehicle and are a flammable gas and/or flammable liquid.

  

DG Code Section 26.2

Emergency plan, manifest and notification

Occupiers with dangerous goods in excess of the 'manifest quantity' in Schedule 2 are required to prepare an emergency plan and a manifest for their premises. They must also provide a notification to WorkSafe regarding the quantity of dangerous goods on the premises.

  

DG Code Sections 25.1, 26.1, 26.3

Further information

Further information on the safe storage and handling of dangerous goods in consumer packages can be found in AS/NZS 3833 The storage and handling of mixed classes of dangerous goods, in packages and intermediate bulk containers.

Disclaimer: On October 30 2014, the Australian Code for the Transport of Dangerous Goods by Road or Rail , version 7.3 (ADG 7.3) came into effect in Victoria, replacing ADG 7. This document has not yet been updated to reflect the change.

Note: This guidance material has been prepared using the best information available to the Victorian WorkCover Authority, and should be used for general use only. Any information about legislative obligations or responsibilities included in this material is only applicable to the circumstances described in the material. You should always check the legislation referred to in this material and make your own judgement about what action you may need to take to ensure you have complied with the law. Accordingly, the Victorian WorkCover Authority cannot be held responsible and extends no warranties as to the suitability of the information for your specific circumstances; or actions taken by third parties as a result of information contained in the guidance material.