Over the last few weeks we’ve hosted a series of workshops across New Zealand on the changing Hazardous Substances Regulations, which are coming into effect on 1 December 2017. The workshops highlighted the impact the new regulations will have and the key points to focus on when you transfer from HSNO to the Hazardous Substances Regulations to make sure your business manages the risks.
These sessions were well attended and understandably sparked a lot of discussion about what the new regulations will mean for your business. Some of the key questions and concerns raised during the sessions are below.
Perhaps you have similar questions?
Am I compliant if I implement all the controls listed in the regulations?
This was the case for the HSNO regulations, but the listed controls transferred from the HSNO regulations are now the minimum controls a workplace needs to comply with. As per the Health and Safety at Work Act, you will need to identify all your risks associated with the use, storage, handling or manufacture of hazardous substances and try to eliminate those risks or minimise them so far as is reasonably practicable. Check out the WorkSafe website for a full explanation.
How do I go about identifying if I am compliant?
A complete inventory is required on 1 December 2017, so we recommend you start updating inventory of all substances on your site, including waste, now. From there, prioritise areas of your site, conducting compliance audits to check you meet all listed requirements of the regulations. To ensure all risks have been identified, complete a risk assessment for each of the areas. Look up existing risk assessments you have done (such as HAZOPs, Safety in Design etc) to check they cover the current facility and have been kept up-to-date.
Do we need to complete compliance audits for the whole site under the new regulations?
The regulations only specify required compliance audits for stationary container systems (SCS). However, the Person Conducting a Business or an Undertaking (PCBU) has the responsibility to identify all risks associated with the use, storage, handling and manufacturing of all hazardous substances, not just the ones in tanks. Completing compliance audits for all storage locations on the site is a good start to ensure all controls are in place. Documenting this will help you provide evidence to the test certifier that you are compliant, making the certification process easy.
Should we be talking to test certifiers on 1 June 2019 to ensure we will receive a location test certificate for Class 6 (toxic) and 8 (corrosive) substances by 1 December the same year?
Don’t wait until June to talk to the certifiers, talk to them as soon as possible to make sure you have everything ready for December 2019. By 1 June 2019 you need to have all controls in place to eliminate and minimise the risks for the toxic and corrosive substances present on your site. You need to have a location test certificate for Class 6 and 8 substances by 1 December 2019. Start reviewing your Class 6 and 8 substances now to ensure you have adequate time to put in all the controls by 1 June 2019.
What are Safe Work Instruments (SWI)?
Existing HSNO Code of Practices (HSNOCOP) are being transferred as SWI’s. Unlike HSNCOP, which is a method to comply with the regulations, the SWI must be complied with and can be used to change the regulations, meaning you must keep track of published SWIs. There are 13 SWIs that come into effect on 1 December 2017 which are published on the WorkSafe website.
What do we classify as Hazardous Waste?
Hazardous Waste is waste generated by a manufacturing or other industrial process and reasonably likely to be or contain a substance that meets one or more of the classification criteria for substances with explosive, flammable, oxidising, toxic, or corrosive properties.
To identify what classifies as Hazardous Waste for your facility, identify the point in your process where you stop using products in your process and at which point it becomes waste. Define the likely composition of that waste using the process information to determine the likely concentrations of the waste.
For example if you have CIP (clean in process) flushes that goes into a trade waste tank, you should be able to define what chemicals are in each of the flushes and what else goes into your waste tank to determine the overall concentration.
Conduct a site audit and define all the waste tanks, sumps, waste process vessels, as all hazardous waste in your inventory will need to be identified from 1 December 2017. Key controls for waste don’t come into effect until 1 June 2019.
Does employee training for handling/working near hazardous substances need to be undertaken by an accredited organisation?
WorkSafe is yet to specify accredited organisations, but they have said they’ll start compiling a list of approved training organisations.
Assess if your own people have the competency to provide the training – they know the plant and the chemicals held on site the best. Talk to them or your training provider to ensure all requirements as defined in the regulations are covered in training, including Competencies for Certified Handlers.
Experienced staff need to be on site to supervise new or inexperienced staff. Remember, evidence will need to be provided to WorkSafe to prove training provides all required information to employees and ensures awareness of all risks, giving staff the ability to handle or work near hazardous substances safely.
Are WorkSafe and the test certifiers ready for this?
We expect the new Hazardous Substances regulations will present a learning curve as the HSNO regulations did when it came into effect 12 years ago. The benefit this time around is the test certifiers are familiar with many of the controls and a lot of the items that were vague from HSNO have been clarified over the years. In saying that, there are some new requirements (risk identification, training of all workers) that will require greater clarification, so we expect in the early stages there will be differences in opinions between test certifiers and WorkSafe on the interpretation of the regulations.
The important thing is to keep communication channels open and continue to share information to ensure you can manage risks adequately, which is the primary focus of the regulations. Furthermore, ensure all information for your site and substances is up-to-date and made readily available for test certifiers. This will make their job easier and make them feel more comfortable with certifying your site.
Please contact Inge Vanloon or Mary Helliwell if you have any further questions regarding the new hazardous substances regulations, or if you need assistance getting reading for audit in the lead up to 2019.