Search this website
| Options Options
Search Type
Hazardous Substances and New Organisms Act 1996 (HSNO Act)
Document Actions

Hazardous Substances and New Organisms Act 1996 (HSNO Act)

The purpose of the Hazardous Substances and New Organisms (HSNO) Act 1996 is to protect the environment, and the health and safety of communities, by preventing or managing the adverse effects of hazardous substances and new organisms.


All hazardous substances are required to have approval under the HSNO Act. When a substance is approved, controls are applied that are designed to manage any risk from using, storing, transporting and disposing of the substance.

When the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) approves a hazardous substance for use, it will usually impose controls with which everyone must comply. These controls apply throughout the life cycle of the substance.

Controls are based on specific regulations made under the Act, or codes of practice approved by EPA. Regulations have been developed for each class of hazardous substance, and for particular phases of a substance’s life cycle, e.g. labelling, packaging, disposal, etc.

Approved Hazardous Substances with Controls


The HSNO Act is administered by the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA).

View the HSNO Act online

Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) website.


WorkSafe New Zealand's role under HSNO

WorkSafe undertakes, on behalf of the EPA, certain hazardous substances functions under the Hazardous Substance and New Organisms (HSNO) Act. This includes:

  • Issuing test certifier approvals, renewals and extensions
  • Oversight of the test certification regime
  • Issuing controlled substance licences
  • Issuing approvals for plant and equipment used in the workplace
  • Approvals of HSNO codes of practice relevant to workplaces
  • Development of guidance material and other information resources for the safe use of hazardous substances in workplaces.


WorkSafe is also the enforcement agency for the hazardous substances in the workplace. Its role is to ensure that the HSNO Act is complied with in places of work. WorkSafe carries out this enforcement role in conjunction with a number of other agencies, including:

Maritime New Zealand

Civil Aviation Authority

NZ Transport Agency and

territorial authorities.


Defining hazardous substances

A 'hazardous substance' is any substance that has one or more specified intrinsic 'hazardous properties'.

Read more…

Last updated 29 June 2017


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.