Occupational Heath and Safety
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Occupational Health & Safety (OH&S) is regulated by Worksafe in Victoria
WorkSafe Victoria’s mission is “Working with the community to deliver outstanding workplace safety, together with quality care and insurance protection to workers and employers.”
Broadly, the responsibilities of WorkSafe are to:
- help avoid workplace injuries occurring;
- enforce Victoria's occupational health and safety laws;
- provide reasonably priced workplace injury insurance for employers;
- help injured workers back into the workforce; and
- manage the workers' compensation scheme by ensuring the prompt delivery of appropriate services and adopting prudent financial practices.
What Are Dangerous Goods?
Dangerous goods are substances that are corrosive, flammable, explosive, spontaneously combustible, toxic, oxidising or water-reactive. Petrol, LPG, paints, pesticides and acids are examples of commonly used dangerous goods. They are defined in the Dangerous Goods Act 1985 and are classified in the Australian Code for the Transport of Dangerous Goods by Road and Rail (ADG code) according to their common hazardous properties.
Some dangerous goods, such as explosives, high consequence dangerous goods and asbestos, have particular risks and are dealt with under specific legislation. There are also specific regulations governing the transport of dangerous goods.
Victoria’s Dangerous Goods Act 1985 was amended to adopt the national framework and introduce new regulations for the safe transport of dangerous goods. For consistency, minor amendments have also been made to other Victorian regulations.
Importantly, the law now references the 7th edition of the Australian Dangerous Goods Code (ADG7) instead of the 6th edition (ADG6). ADG7 includes updated technical requirements for classifying, packing, labelling, consigning and transporting dangerous goods.
From 1 January 2010, all businesses must comply with ADG7.
What is the Difference Between Dangerous Goods and Hazardous Substances?
Dangerous goods and hazardous substances are classified according to different criteria. Dangerous goods are classified on the basis of immediate physical or chemical effects – such as fire, explosion, corrosion and poisoning – on property, the environment or people.
Hazardous substances are classified only on the basis of health effects, both immediate and long-term. They are covered by the Occupational Health and Safety Regulations 2017.
Many substances are both hazardous substances and dangerous goods, and in these cases, both sets of laws will apply. For some duties, however, complying with one set of regulations will be enough to ensure compliance with the other.
What Are Major Hazard Facilities?
Major hazard facilities (MHFs) are industrial sites that store, handle or process large quantities of hazardous chemicals and dangerous goods, including petroleum products. Examples include:
- Oil refineries
- chemical manufacturing sites
- gas-processing plants
- LPG facilities
- some warehouses and transport depots.
Victoria has approximately 45 MHFs, which must comply with stringent legal requirements, including preparation of a Safety Case, to ensure they are operated safely. MHFs have to demonstrate their operational safety through a Safety Case developed specifically for their unique operations and situation.
The Safety Case sets out the adequacy of the site’s safety management system by specifying prevention measures as well as strategies for reducing the effects of a major incident if one does occur.
The Safety Case can only be prepared following a full examination of a site's activities to identify hazards and all potential major incidents, and to determine the necessary control measures.
The safety case must be prepared with the full involvement of employees and their health and safety representatives from all of the different workgroups and functional areas at the site.
The Occupational Health and Safety Regulations 2017 contain requirements for the control of risks associated with major hazard facilities. These obligations are addressed in Chapter 5 of the Regulations.
Plant is a broad term covering machinery and equipment that:
- cuts, drills, punches or grinds material;
- presses, forms, hammers, joins or moulds material;
- combines, mixes, sorts, packages, assembles or knits material; and/or
- lifts or moves materials or people.
Common types of plant include:
- earthmoving machinery
- cranes and other mobile plant
- mini loaders
- temporary access equipment
- explosive-powered tools and
- amusement structures
- air receivers
Certain kinds of plant, such as forklifts, scaffolding, cranes, turbines and some pressure equipment require a licence from WorkSafe to operate (a 'Licence to perform high risk work') and some high-risk plant must be registered with WorkSafe.
Source: WorkSafe Victoria Website