Information provided by Dr. Vince Pacecca, ChemAlert
Hazardous Substances in New Zealand are primarily governed by the Hazardous Substances and New Organisms Act 1996, or HSNO for short (Please click here for more information of HSNO). This Act is currently administered by New Zealand’s Environmental Protection Authority (EPA).
At the top of the supply chain, all Hazardous Substances manufactured or imported into New Zealand must undergo strict approval procedures, in accordance with the HSNO Act. Thus, the EPA will continue to be responsible for;
- The assessment and approval of new hazardous substance applications;
- Governing the rules for classification, labelling, Safety Data Sheets (SDS) and packaging; and
- Protecting the environment, and public health.
Thereby, the EPA will ensure manufacturers and importers of Hazardous Substances have the appropriate HSNO approval, correct label, packaging and SDS for their substance, and comply with allowable limits (and bans) of certain Hazardous Substances within products. To this end, the EPA maintains a number of chemical databases, freely accessible on their website; the NZIoC (NZ Inventory of Chemicals) and the NZCCID (NZ Chemical Classification and Information Database). Notably, once the EPA have approved a Hazardous Substance, a number of controls are generally put in place to prevent, or appropriately manage, the risks associated with the use, storage, transport and disposal of these substances.
You may also make free access to the APCISS to search the latest Asia-Pacific chemical inventories including NZIoC.
In 2013, New Zealand underwent a reform with the aim of improving workplace health and safety. As part of this reform, the rules which govern the storage and handling of hazardous substances in the workplace are in the process of moving to WorkSafe New Zealand. In April 2016, the Health and Safety at Work Act (HSWA) came into effect. It is expected that the supporting regulations, the Health and Safety at Work (Hazardous Substances) Regulations, will come into effect in December, 2017.
WorkSafe NZ Responsibility
As of September 2014, WorkSafe NZ accepted responsibility for a range of regulatory tasks and functions, pertaining to hazardous chemicals. Thus, Worksafe NZ is now responsible for the governing and enforcement of rules and specific controls which pertain to the handling and storage of hazardous substances, within the workplace. Examples of these controls include, but are not limited to;
- Approved handlers;
- Location test certificates;
- Emergency management;
- Chemical tracking; and
- Controlled substance licences.
Furthermore, Worksafe NZ is responsible for the issue of test certificates to people, sites and/or equipment, in addition to the overall management of the test certificate regime.
There are a range of offences and penalties under the HSWA and various regulations. Penalties are dependent on the nature of the offence, and the duty holder of the offender, but can include infringement notices, infringement fees and/or court-imposed orders. Furthermore, court imposed orders may include orders for restoration (put right the offence), adverse publicity (publicly acknowledge the offence), injunctions (stop the offence) and training orders. Maximum penalties range between NZD 5000 (for an individual) and NZD 500 000 (for a company). Prison sentences are reserved for very serious offences, including reckless conduct without ‘reasonable’ excuse.
Both WorkSafe NZ and the EPA have an extensive range of information and resources available on their websites; http://www.worksafe.govt.nz and http://www.epa.govt.nz, respectively. Currently, there are many industry produced Codes of Practice that have been approved by the EPA, and are available for purchase. These Codes of Practice relate to topics such as the preparation of SDSs, labelling, signage and storage incompatibilities. In future, Worksafe NZ will be responsible for the development and approval of Codes of Practice, and guidance material, relevant to the safe use of Hazardous Substances within the workplace.
Risk Management Technology is one of the honourable partners of CIRS in Australia. If you would like further information, please feel free to contact them:
Phone: +61 8 9322 1711
Or you can also contact CIRS at firstname.lastname@example.org.