Hazardous Chemicals and Dangerous Goods

Hazardous Chemicals and Dangerous Goods are evident in our daily lives and have many benefits when used correctly.

Some hazardous chemicals and dangerous goods are commonly used, such as house paint, antiseptic and cleaning products. In contrast, others like ammonium nitrate, anhydrous ammonia and flammable refrigerants are far more specific and dangerous.

No matter the type or use of a hazardous chemical and dangerous good, it can still be very harmful if not used, handled or stored correctly.

For this reason, employers have a legal responsibility to ensure safe work practices, adequate storage and employee training is performed across their worksite.

What are Hazardous Chemicals and Dangerous Goods?

Hazardous chemicals and dangerous goods are often used daily in the workplace, come in many forms such as liquids, gas or solids and can be harmful to your health if misused.

They may be corrosive, flammable, explosive, combustible, toxic, oxidising, or water-reactive and are classified on their physical or chemical effect and can be harmful to people, animals, property, or the environment. 

Hazardous chemicals classifications differ by potential health risk, signifying whether it is an acute and chronic risk. At the same time, all dangerous goods must be clearly identified in the workplace and while being transported per the industry regulatory coloured diamond symbol that resembles its composition and risk.

While not all dangerous goods have hazardous chemicals, most chemicals that are in dangerous goods are usually hazardous chemicals. 

Hazardous chemicals and dangerous goods can be extremely harmful to health. They may cause acute effects, such as dizziness, nausea and itchy eyes or skin, or gradual and chronic effects, such as dermatitis or cancer. At the same time, an accident involving dangerous goods could seriously damage property or the environment.

Specific hazardous chemicals:

Ammonium nitrate
Anhydrous ammonia
Flammable and combustible liquids
Flammable refrigerants
Gases in cylinders
Flammable refrigerants

Hazardous chemicals and dangerous good safety obligations

Previously, workplaces’ safety obligations had their legislation for hazardous substances and dangerous goods; however, it is now incorporated with hazardous chemicals’ safety obligations.

All businesses must have a thorough understanding of these safety obligations to provide a safe working environment for their employees and abide by state and territory legislative requirements. 

Responsibilities in the workplaces

Many Australian workplaces use hazardous substances and dangerous goods without knowing the potential harm they can cause to people, property and the environment. 

It is the employer’s responsibility to provide safe work procedures for handling and storing hazardous substances and dangerous goods. They also need to provide information, training, and supervision to employees with first aid treatment for hazardous substances and dangerous goods.

An employee once informed and trained to carry out responsible working practices. They must use, handle, and store hazardous chemicals and dangerous goods to prevent emergency, accident or injury. Furthermore, they must comply with Codes of Practice when disposing of these materials.

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