It is a legislative requirement to manage the risks associated with all chemicals stored and used in the Department's schools and workplaces. The majority of these chemicals will be classified as Dangerous Goods and/or Hazardous Substances (DGHS), the handling and storage of which are controlled by specific legislation, regulations and codes. As the phrase indicates, DGHS are materials that can cause serious harm to the health of humans and can cause property and environmental damage. In fact there are some materials that are so risky that they are completely banned from all the Department's schools and workplaces (refer to Guidance Sheet 3 Prohibited and Restricted Chemicals). Even if a chemical is not a dangerous good or hazardous substance, the risks associated with the storage and use of that chemical will still need to be effectively controlled.
Relevant sections of the OHSMS
Where can you obtain Material Safety Data Sheets?
Material Safety Data Sheets can be obtained through
Dangerous goods are items or substances that may present an immediate safety hazard through exposure to their explosive, flammable, radioactive, corrosive or toxic properties.
They are easily recognisable by the diamond shaped sign displayed on the substance label. They are designated into nine classes according to their immediate physical or chemical effects.
For further information, please refer to Guidance Sheet 2 Dangerous Goods Classification System.
Hazardous substances are classified on the basis of their health effects, both short and long term. They can enter the human body in a number of ways including inhalation, ingestion and contact through the skin and mucus membranes such as the eyes. The level of subsequent risk depends upon both the substance itself and the nature of the work being done with it.
Please note that not all products used in the workplace would be classed as a hazardous substance. Examples of types of hazardous substances (depending on their concentration) include:
- caustic substances;
- herbicides and pesticides;
- solvents and thinners.
Note: Dangerous Goods can also be classified as Hazardous Substances.
Where would these issues be relevant?
The Department's locations and venues where DGHS may be found can include:
- laboratories and science areas;
- photography dark rooms;
- technology and automotive areas;
- art classrooms and store rooms;
- cleaner’s storeroom and maintenance sheds/rooms;
- kitchen cupboards;
- gas storage tanks;
- swimming pools.
What do you need to do?
- Identify all chemicals in the workplace in consultation with the Health and Safety Representative(s) and employees.
- Obtain and review MSDS (must be issued within the last 5 years) for each chemical.
- Record all chemicals are to be recorded on the Chemical Register, or equivalent template.
- Conduct a Risk Assessment using the Task Based Risk Management Form see Chemical Management Procedure.
- Use the OHS Purchasing Checklist for new chemicals introduced to the workplace.
- Complete a Safe Work Procedure for the storage and handling of dangerous goods and/or hazardous substance with a high or extreme risk rating as identified in the Chemical Register.
- Correctly dispose of chemicals no longer in use and ensure minimal quantities of chemicals are stored on site by regularly reviewing the chemicals held in storage. For advice on the correct disposal of specific chemicals contact your local Council, Water, Municipal and/or Environment Protection Authority.
- Clearly label and include date of purchase on decanted chemical containers.
- Check chemical containers and their seals or stoppers for deterioration and replace as necessary.
- Appropriate storage areas are provided for chemicals (e.g. flame proof chemical cabinets, acid cabinets, locked storage rooms, fire risk dangerous goods are stored at least 5 metres away from ignition sources etc.).
- The safe storage of particular combinations of substances occur in accordance with the Segregation of Dangerous Goods Chart (refer to WorkSafe Victoria Recognising Dangerous Goods Segregation Chart).
- Appropriate fire detection and firefighting equipment is provided.
- Appropriate emergency management procedures are in place for chemicals stored and used on site (e.g. fire wardens, evacuation points etc.).
- Spill kits/containment areas are provided (e.g. drip trays, shelving/cabinets with built in spill retention).
- Appropriate ventilation (mechanical and natural) is in place for the safe use and storage of chemicals (e.g. fume cupboards, exhaust fans). More detailed information can be found in Sheet 1: Chemical Storage.
- Training and instruction is provided to relevant employees in the safe storage and use of chemicals in the workplace.
- Appropriate manual handling techniques are employed when transporting and storing chemicals (e.g. utilisation of trolleys, storage of frequently accessed and heavy items between knee and shoulder).
- Personal Protective Equipment is provided (gloves, goggles, lab coats/overalls etc.).
- Incidents are investigated and logged on
eduSafe and risk controls are reviewed.
- Hazardous substances contained in an enclosed system (such as pipe or piping system) are identified and labelled.
- Mandatory placarding is in place for chemicals whose quantities exceed the Placarding requirements as listed in Schedule 2 of the Dangerous Goods (Storage and Handling) Regulations 2012 (e.g. storage of more than 500 litres of a flammable gas such as LPG Gas Tanks).
Legislation, Guidance and Codes of Practice
Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004.
Occupational Health and Safety Regulations 2007
Dangerous Goods Act 1985
Dangerous Goods (Storage and Handling) Regulations 2012
Code of Practice for the Storage and Handling of Dangerous Goods 2013
Hazardous Substances Code of Practice 2000
Australian Standard 1319:1994 - Safety Signs for the Occupational Environment
Australian Standard 1345:1955 - Identification of the Contents of Piping, Conduits and Ducts
OHS Advisory Service on 1300 074 715 or email