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Information, instruction, supervision and training

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

General instruction, supervision and training requirements are provided in the Health and Safety at Work (General Risk and Workplace Management) Regulations. The Hazardous Substances Regulations go further to state what a person conducting a business or undertaking (PCBU) needs to do to ensure that every worker who uses, handles, manufactures or stores a hazardous substance has the knowledge and practical experience to do so safely.

This includes making sure workers know of the hazardous substances in their work area, along with the dangers they pose, and get the training and supervision necessary to operate safely around them and with them.


What information do workers need?

Workers must be informed of any work involving hazardous substances taking place in their area. They also need to know where to find information about each hazardous substance, and about safe handling and storage. They also need to be aware of what to do in an emergency.


What instruction and training do I need to provide?

Workers need training followed by practical supervised experience on:

  • The health risks and safety issues associated with the hazardous substances they work with.
  • How to safely use, handle, manufacture, store and dispose of the substances.
  • The safe use of associated equipment, including personal protective equipment.
  • Their obligations under the regulations.
  • Their responsibilities and actions to be taken in an emergency.

Even if a worker has had similar training previously (for example at a different site), they will still need site-specific training if they are new to the workplace.

You must keep a record of training and instruction provided to each worker, and make it available to inspectors or compliance certifiers.


What supervision is required?

You must provide supervision, where necessary, to protect workers from the risks of working with, or being exposed to, the hazardous substances in their workplace. This includes supervising the use of equipment used for hazardous substances.

Deciding what supervision is necessary will depend on the nature of the risks and the knowledge and experience of the worker. As with any workplace health and safety risks it must reflect:

  • the work involved
  • the risks associated with the work
  • any measures in place to manage the risks.


How can I be sure people have the training required?

Workers should be engaged in supervision, training, information and instruction decisions. Make sure information is readily understandable, and spend extra time with workers with reading difficulties and whose first language is not English.


Where can I find more information?

Quick guide on information, training and instruction for workers handling hazardous substances [PDF 71KB]

The Summary guide to changes to hazardous substances regulations provides an outline of the major changes introduced by the new regulations [PDF 69KB]

Videos showing what can go wrong if workers don’t use hazardous substances safely can be found in the Hazardous Substances Toolbox.

Last updated 1 November 2017

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.