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Hazardous Substances Regulations

The Health and Safety at Work (Hazardous Substances) Regulations bring focus to the safe management of hazardous substances in the workplace. They will affect the estimated 150,000 businesses that manufacture, use, handle and store hazardous substances in the workplace; and those that transport them.

It’s not about wholesale change. The regulation of hazardous substances in the workplace is moving from one Act and set of regulations to another, but with some changes. If you are complying with the current hazardous substances law, then you may not need to change a lot but this is an important time for all businesses to review their processes for keeping people safe around hazardous substances.


What laws are changing?

The Hazardous Substances Regulations are part of a wider set of reforms. There are two main pieces of legislation that are affected:

  • The Hazardous Substances and New Organisms Act 1996 (HSNO) and regulations will change.
  • The Health and Safety at Work (Hazardous Substances) Regulations will be introduced.

Read more about what’s changing in the laws.


What’s changing?

Information on what’s changing will be added to this website over coming weeks and more detailed guidance will be available soon. We will look at some of the key areas of change that apply to most businesses that use hazardous substances.

Read about some of the key requirements you will need to know about.


Who regulates what?

The changes come with new responsibilities for WorkSafe and the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA).

Broadly, the EPA will continue to have responsibility for approving and classifying hazardous substances; while WorkSafe will administer and enforce workplace requirements provided in the Regulations.

Read more about who regulates what.


How do I stay informed?

WorkSafe and the EPA will be providing communications and guidance to help keep you informed. Here’s what you can do now:

Visit WorkSafe’s Hazardous Substances Toolbox – this provides information under the current law including practical tools and guidance to help you. It will be updated for the new Regulations.

Visit the EPA website.

Familiarise yourself with the Regulations.

  • Talk to your industry or trade bodies about what these changes mean for you.

Commencement and Transitional Arrangements

Most requirements under the Health and Safety at Work (Hazardous Substances) Regulations come into force on 1 December 2017. These tables summarise some of the key commencement dates and transitional arrangements.

Read more…

Certified Handlers

Under the new Hazardous Substances Regulations there will be fewer substances that require certified handlers (than currently require approved handlers). This page outlines when you will need a certified handler under the new Regulations, how to become one, and what to do if you are currently an approved handler.

Read more…

Emergency plans

Even the most safety conscious organisation can have an emergency involving hazardous substances. As well as observing the rules around managing your hazardous substances, you, your workers, and emergency service workers need to know what to do - and who is responsible for what - in an emergency.

Read more…

Hazardous waste

Most of the rules that apply to managing hazardous substances in the workplace will also apply to hazardous waste.

Read more…

Information, instruction, supervision and training

Workers need to understand the risks posed by hazardous substances and how to keep safe around them.

Read more…


It’s important to know what hazardous substances you have in order to safely manage their risks to people. Under the Hazardous Substances Regulations, one of the biggest changes affecting all businesses is the requirement to have an inventory of all their hazardous substances. It will help you ensure the safety of your workers and others who may be exposed to hazardous substances in your workplace.

Read more…


Labels are placed on hazardous substances containers so that people, including workers and emergency services personnel, know what's inside and can take the correct precautionary measures.

Read more…


The new Health and Safety at Work (Hazardous Substances) Regulations apply to laboratories. From 1 December there will be new requirements for all laboratories. However, those involved in research and development, teaching and analytical testing will have a different set of requirements to laboratories not involved in these areas.

Read more…

Risk management

Risk management is important for all work-related health and safety. The Hazardous Substances Regulations require you to know the risks associated with hazardous substances in your workplace, take appropriate measures to manage the risks and to review these regularly.

Read more…

Safe Work Instruments

Safe Work Instruments (SWI) are a type of subordinate instrument (sometimes called tertiary legislation). As a regulatory tool, SWIs were introduced with the Health and Safety at Work Act (HSWA). They are developed by WorkSafe and approved by the Minister for Workplace Relations and Safety.

Read more…

Safety data sheets

Safety data sheets (SDS) provide important information about your hazardous substances. Under the Hazardous Substances Regulations it will be mandatory to have a current SDS for each of the hazardous substances in your workplace regardless of the quantity you hold.

Read more…


How do emergency services, visitors and your workers know what hazardous substances you have on site and the protection or precautionary measures they should take? Signs provide clear, concise information and are often the first warnings people will have about your hazardous substances.

Read more…


Storing hazardous substances safely is an important part of protecting you and your workers. This includes storing only what you need, ensuring that incompatible substances are not stored together, and that decanted substances are stored in the right type of container and correctly labelled.

Read more…

Test stations

Gas cylinders must be regularly inspected and tested to make sure they are safe for use, and from 1 December 2017 the rules are changing for who can carry out this duty.

Read more…


Some substances are so hazardous they must be tracked at all times.

Read more…

Hazardous Substances Regulations

This page relates to the new Hazardous Substances Regulations that will come into force on 1 December 2017. Until then the current Hazardous Substances and New Organisms Act remains in force in its current form.

At a glance

  • Who: Businesses that manufacture, use, handle, store and transport hazardous substances in the workplace will need to know about the new Hazardous Substances Regulations.
  • Where: you will find the Regulations on the Legislation Website.
  • When: they will come into force on 1 December 2017. Until then the current Hazardous Substances and New Organisms Act remains in force in its current form.
  • What: The Regulations are the next step in the Health and Safety at Work Act, prescribing duties for safely managing hazardous substances in the workplace.