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Hazardous substances

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Hazardous substances are an integral part of modern society. They are found across a wide range of industries, including:

  • agrichemicals used in primary production
  • fuels that run our transport fleet
  • explosives for mining and quarrying
  • solvents and other general chemicals used in manufacturing
  • cleaning solutions that are critical for safe food production, and
  • speciality chemicals that underpin research and development.

Did you know?

There are over 150,000 businesses that manufacture, use, handle and store hazardous substances.

New Hazardous Substances Regulations

On 1 December 2017 the Health and Safety at Work (Hazardous Substances) Regulations will come into force. To help you prepare:

Until 1 December 2017 the current Hazardous Substances and New Organisms Act remains in force in its current form.

By their very nature hazardous substances can be extremely dangerous. Used safely they contribute to New Zealand’s economic growth and prosperity. Used incorrectly they can cause catastrophic accidents, such as fires and explosions, and serious harm to people who are exposed to them.

Occupational exposure to hazardous substances may occur over many years and result in slow and debilitating diseases, many of which are fatal. Around 600 – 900 people die prematurely every year from workplace-related disease including from exposure to hazardous substances.

Reducing harm from work-related exposure to hazardous substances

There are specific requirements to help manage the risks associated with manufacturing, using, handling or storing hazardous substances in the workplace and to protect the health and safety of workers.

Currently, they are set under the Hazardous Substances and New Organisms (HSNO) Act 1996. These requirements have been transferred to the Health and Safety at Work Act and a new set of Hazardous Substances Regulations that will come into force on 1 December 2017. The Regulations are available now on the Legislation website.

The Hazardous Substances Toolbox has a package of useful information. It takes you through the 5 Steps to Safety, includes the Practical Guide to Working Safely with Hazardous Substances and provides the Hazardous Substances Calculator that can help you evaluate whether your business needs to comply with any key HSNO controls.