Security of explosives

Following recent thefts, WorkSafe is issuing a reminder about ensuring the security of stored explosives.
Safety alert published

Friday 24 Jan 2020

Industries and topics
  • Mining and quarries
  • Dangerous goods
  • Event management
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Background

Recently thieves have targeted magazines containing explosives. In another recent incident, display fireworks were allegedly stolen from storage at a public fireworks display. Victoria Police is currently investigating the incidents.

To report a theft or loss of explosives, or a break in or attempted break in, contact WorkSafe Victoria on 132 360 (24 hour number).

Safety issues

Fireworks and blasting explosives are highly sought after on the black market. Unauthorised, unlicensed, and improper use of explosives has resulted in injury, damage to property and death.

Explosives storages can be vulnerable targets because they are often isolated by distance from public roads, dwellings, workplaces and points of assembly.

Recommended ways to control risks

Licensees, occupiers or persons in charge of premises should review all aspects of the storage design, security, access and record keeping for explosives received, stored, used or sold.

WorkSafe Victoria reminds duty holders of their obligations in relation to storing, securing and record keeping for explosives. This includes:

  • persons with a licence to store dangerous goods
  • pyrotechnicians
  • persons in charge of blasting explosives at a blasting site

See 'legal duties' below for more information.

For occupiers and persons in charge who don't have the duties mentioned above, WorkSafe recommends:

  • Maintain records that can accurately account for all explosives received, stored, used and sold.
  • Conduct regular stocktake and maintenance checks of explosives storages to ensure contents are accounted for.
  • Review storage design to ensure that the explosives are kept secure.
  • Review locking mechanisms. Fit lock covers that prevent easy access to locks, ensure mechanism is high-tensile steel and that cutting equipment cannot easily access the locks.
  • Implement an authorised personnel access list. Ensure all approved people are licensed or under direct supervision of a licensed person, trained and have current police clearance.
  • For storages that are in remote locations, have security systems in place, such as active warning CCTV with person and motion sensors. Examples of effective CCTV system features include solar powered with battery backup, storing images in the cloud (for at least 2 weeks), feedback to one or more mobile phones to start immediate responses and the ability to be readily downloaded.

Legal duties

The Dangerous Goods Act 1985 states that an occupier or person in charge of premises where dangerous goods (including explosives) are manufactured, stored or sold must take all reasonable precautions for the prevention of tampering, theft and unauthorised access.

Dangerous Goods (Explosives) Regulations 2011

Under the Dangerous Goods (Explosives) Regulations 2011, a person in possession of explosives must, so far as is reasonably practicable, prevent access to the explosives by persons not authorised by that person to have access. This does not apply to consumer fireworks.

A licensee, occupier or person in charge of any premises used to manufacture or store explosives, or a vehicle or vessel used to transport explosives, on becoming aware of any occurrence of theft or loss of explosives from, or a breaking into or attempt at breaking into, the premises, vehicle or vessel must immediately notify the Authority and a member of the police force of the occurrence. This does not apply to consumer fireworks or cartridge ammunition (or primers for that ammunition) for a person's own lawful use.

Licensees authorised to store above prescribed quantities

A person who holds a licence authorising storage of dangerous goods above prescribed quantities must keep a record, for at least 5 years, of:

  • all explosives received or transferred, including the description of the explosives and their type and quantity, and
  • the name, address and number of the licence of the person from whom the explosives were received or to whom they were transferred

A person who holds a licence authorising storage above prescribed quantities must also do so in accordance with the applicable requirements of Australian Standard 2187.1 – Explosives – Storage, transport and use.

The holder of a licence authorising storage above prescribed quantities must construct a security fence that surrounds the storage premises or the area in which two or more such storages are sited above ground (does not apply to a storage premises used solely to store explosives of Classification Code 1.4S). The fence must be constructed in accordance with the requirements of AS 2187.1.

The holder of a licence authorising storage above prescribed quantities must ensure that a notice that states the types and maximum quantities of explosives specified in the licence is posted conspicuously on the inside of the entrance to the storage.

Medium scale storage

All explosives stored at premises for medium scale storage must be stored in accordance with the following requirements:

  • the explosives must be stored in a storage building, storage room or receptacle which—
    • is detached from any building in which persons live, and
    • if required by the Authority, is designed, barricaded or mounded in accordance with AS 2187.1, and
    • is not accessible to the public, and
    • is not used for any other purpose than the storage of explosives, and
    • is kept securely locked, except when it is required to be open for purposes relating to its use or management
  • the explosives must be stored so far as is reasonably practicable from the entry points of the building or room in which they are stored
  • the means of entry to buildings, rooms and receptacles in which the explosives are stored must be kept clear at all times
  • the floor and other parts of the building or room in which the explosives are stored must be kept clean and free of extraneous materials
  • all of the explosives must be in a closed container or packaging that will prevent any escape of the contents
  • detonators and other explosives of Compatibility Group B in the Regulations must be stored in a separate storage building, room or receptacle located at least 3 metres from any other explosives
  • if explosives of more than one Compatibility Group are stored in the same storage building, room or receptacle, the explosives must be separated by a partition or intervening space which will prevent fire or explosion in those of one Group from communicating with those of another (this point does not apply if the explosives comprise only Compatibility Groups C, D and E)

Pyrotechnicians

A pyrotechnician must ensure that a firework display site is secure in accordance with the requirements of section 4.1.2 of AS 2187.4. A pyrotechnician must also ensure that:

  • all fireworks at a display site are kept within a barricaded area
  • all fireworks are kept in sturdy spark-proof receptacles within the barricaded area
  • the receptacles are located at least 10 metres from the edge of the barricaded area
  • the receptacles are kept closed except when fireworks are taken out for discharge

A pyrotechnician must also ensure that:

  • all persons, except persons authorised by the pyrotechnician to use the display fireworks, are at the minimum separation distance from the firing point specified in Table 155A, 155B or 155C in the Regulations for the fireworks being used
  • the firing point of a fireworks display is no closer to any building, dangerous goods storage, structure, traffic route or place of assembly than the minimum separation distance specified in Table 155A, 155B or 155C (as applicable) for the fireworks being used, unless otherwise approved by the Authority

If the manufacturer's instructions relating to particular fireworks recommend greater minimum separation distances than those set out in Table 155A, 155B or 155C, those greater distances must be observed unless otherwise approved by the Authority.

Explosives at a blasting site

A person in charge of blasting explosives at a blasting site must ensure that the explosives are stored:

  • in accordance with Part 5 of the Dangerous Goods (Explosives) Regulations or
  • securely aboard a vehicle which complies and is operated in accordance with Part 7, or
  • in a receptacle in accordance with Part 5 which is under the immediate control or supervision of the shotfirer

They must also ensure the explosives are transferred at or before the end of the day's work to a storage that complies with Part 5.

Further information

Australian standards

AS 2187.1:1998 Explosives –Storage, transport and use, Part 1 – Storage

AS2187.4:1998 Explosives – Storage, transport and use, Part 4 – Pyrotechnics, Outdoor Displays

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