Duties for operators of major hazard facilities (MHF)

Information for operators about their legal responsibility to identify, prevent and control major incidents at MHFs.

Read the regulations

Full definitions of the legal duties for MHF operators are in the Occupational Health and Safety Regulations 2017 Part 5.2 Major hazard facilities.

Identify

The law imposes strict requirements on operators of MHFs to protect employees and surrounding communities.

Operators are required to prepare a safety case that demonstrates that appropriate measures have been taken to ensure that these facilities operate safely.

Fundamental to this process is the identification of potential major incident scenarios.

As with all risk management processes, risks can only be controlled if the underlying hazards are first identified.

Operators must therefore conduct a detailed hazard identification and safety assessment process which investigates and analyses hazards and risks and examines the potential consequences if things go wrong.

This comprehensive process helps operators to understand the events that may lead to major incidents, and is fundamental to implementing risk control measures and evaluating their effectiveness.

Control

Operators of MHFs must demonstrate in their safety case that they have adopted adequate measures to control the risk to health and safety associated with major incident hazards.

There are particular issues involved in operating MHFs safely, and operators must take a comprehensive approach to ensure all risks are controlled.

A documented safety management system must be established and implemented as the primary means of ensuring the safe operation of the facility.

The safety management system needs to be a comprehensive and integrated management approach for ensuring the adequacy and sustainability of control measures adopted in relation to hazards and major incidents.

Review

Operators of MHFs must monitor the effectiveness of safety systems and controls and make improvements where needed.

Technical developments and industry best practice should also be monitored by the operator and any developments or advancements should be adopted to improve safety at the facility.

A review of the risk management approach is also necessary in a number of specific circumstances outlined in the OHS Regulations, particularly when the Safety Case is reviewed and revised in order to renew the licence.

Monitoring and improving safety performance

Operators of MHFs must maintain effective major incident prevention and control measures, and have an up-to-date safety case.

This ongoing commitment to improving safety is important. Operators must monitor performance and review the effectiveness of safety systems and controls, and make improvements where needed. Operators also need to monitor technical developments and best practice in their industry, applying the lessons to their own facility.

WorkSafe inspectors and process safety analysts conduct a planned programme of inspections and visits to independently verify that MHF operators continue to meet their responsibilities.

WorkSafe inspection plans are tailored to each MHF, and if problems are found, WorkSafe will direct the operator to fix them. If an immediate risk is found, WorkSafe will prohibit the activity.

Summary of legal duties

Operators of major hazard facilities must comply with the OHS Regulations listed below.

  1. Regulation 358

    Operators must be licensed or facility registered with WorkSafe (pending licence).

  2. Regulation 361

    Operators must advise WorkSafe of any changes to information previously provided to WorkSafe.

  3. Regulation 367

    Operators must provide a safety case outline for the facility within 90 days of beginning the registration process.

  4. Regulation 368

    Operators must identify all major hazards and all major incidents that could occur at the facility – the process used must be fully documented and made available for inspection.

  5. Regulation 369, 370

    Operators must conduct a safety assessment in relation to all of the hazards identified, which must be fully documented and made available for inspection.

  6. Regulation 371

    Operators must, so far as is reasonably practicable, eliminate the risk of a major incident occurring, or else reduce the risk by adopting risk control measures.

  7. Regulation 372, 373, 374

    Operators must establish and implement a safety management system, which must be fully documented and made available for inspection, and ensure it is reviewed as required by regulation 374.

  8. Regulation 375, 376

    Operators must prepare an emergency plan in conjunction with emergency services, which must be fully documented and kept at the facility, and sent to emergency services and relevant municipal councils.

  9. Regulation 377

    Operators must ensure the emergency plan is tested in consultation with emergency services.

  10. Regulation 378

    In the event of a major incident, operators must ensure the emergency plan is implemented and emergency services are notified.

  11. Regulation 379

    Operators must ensure that reviews of identified hazards, control measures, the safety assessment and the emergency plan are conducted, at least every five years, or following the circumstances prescribed in regulation 379. If necessary, revisions should be made in light of the reviews.

  12. Regulation 380

    Operators must develop a safety role for employees, including what they will need to do, and the procedures they will need to follow, in the event of a major incident.