Chemical Management

Principals and school staff must follow the Chemical Management Policy, Chemical Management Procedure and Resource section which are available in the Policy and Advisory Library (PAL).

Corporate and regional staff should refer to the following information.

Chemical management

It is a legislative requirement to manage the risks associated with all chemicals stored and used in department 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 Department 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

Policy​Procedure​Forms ​Guides

Where can you obtain Safety Data sheets?

Safety Data Sheets can be obtained through ChemWatch GoldFFX .

Dangerous goods

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

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 mucous 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:

  • acids
  • caustic substances
  • disinfectants
  • 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:

  • general storerooms
  • cleaner’s storeroom
  • maintenance sheds/rooms
  • kitchen cupboards
  • gas storage bottles/tanks

What do you need to do?

Workplace manager and/or management OHS nominee in consultation with the HSR and employees must:

  • identify all chemicals in the workplace in consultation with the health and safety representative(s) and employees.
  • obtain and review Safety Data Sheets (must be issued within the last five years) for each chemical.
  • record all chemicals in the Chemical Register, or equivalent template.
  • conduct a Risk Assessment using the Risk Assessment Form see Chemical Management Procedure.
  • use the OHS Purchasing Checklist prior to introducing new chemicals into 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.
  • ensure that chemicals no longer in use are correctly disposed of. For advice on the correct disposal of specific chemicals contact your local Council, Water, Municipal and/or Environment Protection Authority.
  • ensure that minimal quantities of chemicals are stored on site by regularly reviewing the chemicals held in storage.
  • 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.
  • ensure 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 five metres away from ignition sources etc.).
  • ensure 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).
  • provide appropriate fire detection and firefighting equipment.
  • ensure appropriate emergency management procedures are in place for chemicals stored and used on site (e.g. fire wardens, evacuation points etc.).
  • provide spill kits/containment areas (e.g., drip trays, shelving/cabinets with built in spill retention).
  • ensure there is appropriate ventilation (mechanical and natural) in place for the safe use and storage of chemicals (e.g., exhaust fans). More detailed information can be found in Sheet 1: Chemical Storage.
  • provide training and instruction to relevant employees in the safe storage and use of chemicals in the workplace.
  • ensure 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).
  • provide Personal Protective Equipment (e.g., gloves, safety glasses, etc.).
  • ensure incidents are investigated and logged on eduSafe Plus (staff login required ) and risk controls are reviewed.
  • ensure hazardous substances contained in an enclosed system (such as pipe or piping system) are identified and labelled.
  • ensure 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 Tanks).

Legislation, guidance and compliance codes

Contact us

OHS Advisory Service on 1300 074 715 or email safety@education.vic.gov.au.

Further information