Search this website
| Options Options
Search Type
Document Actions

Emergency Management

A priority for any business is to prevent accidents and incidents from occurring. However, when things do go wrong, good emergency management can limit the damage that can happen. There are three levels of control to prevent or lessen the impact of an emergency.

At the lowest level, Level 1, people must be provided with emergency information such as first aid measures or emergency response contact details. You would expect to find this information on the substance label.

Level 2 requires that documentation (safety data sheets) is available so that people will know in advance the properties of the substance and what to do in an emergency. Fire extinguisher requirements are also an important consideration where flammable substances are involved.

Level 3 deals with signage, emergency response plans and secondary containment (bunding). For more information on secondary containment, see: Secondary containment


Fire extinguishers

If your site holds explosive, flammable or oxidising substances, you must have at least the number of fire extinguishers specified in the emergency management regulations. Every fire extinguisher is to be located within 30 metres of travel from the substance. Where there are multiple hazardous substance locations at a place, more than the number of extinguishers specified in the schedule may be required in order to satisfy the distance of travel criteria. A fire extinguisher with a minimum rating 30 and classification B should meet the performance standard. Check with your supplier. There are some variations to the rules where fire extinguishers are not required:

  • at an unattended fuel dispensing station where petrol, aviation gasoline, racing gasoline, kerosene or diesel is stored for self-service refuelling
  • at an LPG bulk storage facility if the fire extinguishers are replaced by a fire hydrant system incorporating a 20 mm diameter hose, fitted with a spray nozzle and of sufficient length to enable water to be directed to all sides of the tank or tanks.


Emergency response plans

The need for emergency response plans is dictated by the hazard classification of the substance, and the quantity used or stored. You should identify the controls when you complete your hazardous substances inventory. Many hazardous substances have multiple hazard classifications and each classification has to be considered. The emergency response plan must:

  • cover all reasonably likely emergencies involving each substance
  • be specific to your site
  • be available to your staff and emergency service providers.


The plan should list all emergency equipment, its purpose and its location. Staff need to be trained in how to use it and what to do in an emergency. The emergency plan needs to be tested at least once a year.

This emergency procedures flip chart is a useful aid that may be adapted to suit your business.


Last updated 30 August 2014


On Monday 4 April 2016, the New Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 (HSWA) came into effect.

HSWA repeals the Health and Safety in Employment Act 1992, with immediate effect.

All references to the 1992 Act on this website and within our guidance will be progressively removed.