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The Dangerous Substances Act 2004 (the Act) was enacted in the ACT on 6 April 2004. The Act provides a statutory framework for regulating the way that dangerous goods and hazardous substances are managed, to minimise the risk these materials can pose to the health and safety of people working with these substances, the general community and the environment. See our Guide to the Dangerous Substances Act 2004 for a user guide.
The Act is intended to complement other legislative schemes that regulate workplace safety, environmental protection, the handling of infectious or radioactive material, control of firearms and ammunition, drugs and the transportation of dangerous goods. The Dangerous Goods (Road Transport) Act 2009 applies specifically to the transport of dangerous goods.
Together, these laws will ensure that there is a comprehensive system of regulation and control for materials that can cause significant injury or damage to people, property and the environment if not properly managed.
WorkSafe ACT is responsible for administering the Dangerous Substances legislation.
Scope of Dangerous Substances Legislation
The Dangerous Substances Act 2004 (the Act) covers:
The Act does not cover radioactive substances and clinical waste (regulated under the Radiation Act 1983 and Clinical Waste Act 1990 respectively).
The incorrect handling of dangerous substances at any time can lead to serious risk to people, property or the environment, so the Act covers all aspects of handling, including storage.
Duty of Care Responsibilities
The Act provides specific duty of care requirements for all dangerous substances from the entry into the ACT or manufacture into the ACT, until the dangerous substance is used, disposed of or removed from the ACT.
Other important concepts are person in control, responsible person, non-commercial handling, correctly (for the purposes of classifying, packing, storing, labelling and placarding dangerous substances), hazard and risk, reasonable steps (in relation to a risk), and safety management system.
These concepts follow the principles of occupational health and safety risk assessment and control methods, clearly defining each step in the process.
The Act provides the safety duties of everybody involved in the handling of dangerous substances. An important concept of the Act is that more than one person may have safety duties for particular aspects of handling, and all such people are responsible for ensuring those duties are complied with.
Classification of Dangerous Goods
`Prescribed substances' under the Dangerous Goods Code are assigned a specific United Nations "UN" number and are divided into the following nine classes according to their predominant hazard:
Class 1 - Explosives Class 2 - Gases (flammable, non-flammable, toxic) Class 3 - Flammable liquids Class 4 - Flammable solids (substances liable to spontaneous combustion, and substances that emit flammable gases when wet) Class 5 - Oxidising substances (oxidising agents and organic peroxides) Class 6 - Toxic and infectious substances Class 7 - Radioactive material Class 8 - Corrosive substances Class 9 - Miscellaneous dangerous substances
Each class is identified by a distinctive coloured, diamond shaped label - refer to Guidance Note 42 for more information.
Transport of Dangerous Substances
Dangerous Substances must be transported in accordance with the requirements of the Australian Code for the Transport of Dangerous Goods by Road and Rail (ADG Code - 7th Edition) or the Australian Explosives Code.
Requirements such as marking and placarding of containers and vehicles will depend on the classification and quantity of dangerous substance and the method of transport. Where dangerous substances are carried in larger loads, the owner of the vehicle must obtain a License to Convey Dangerous Goods. The driver will also require authorisation.
Licences may be required by drivers who drive vehicles carrying bulk amounts of dangerous goods. These licences are issued unde the Dangerous Goods (Road Transport) Act 2009, except for drivers of explosives vehicles, which are issued under the Dangerous Substances (Explosives) Regulations 2004.
Licences and Permits
For further information and to inquire about licenses and permits, contact the Dangerous Substances team at WorkSafe ACT.
Reporting Dangerous Occurrence under the Dangerous Substances Act 2004
Section 39 of the Dangerous Substances Act 2004 (DS Act) imposes a safety duty on the ‘Person in control of premises’ immediately report actual or likely dangerous occurrences to the Director General. This does not apply to non-commercial handling of dangerous substances.
For this Act, the handling of a dangerous substance is non-commercial if the handling does not take place in the course of trade or commerce. Trade or commerce includes a business or professional activity.
Section 38 of the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 (WHS Act)states that when a notifiable incident for which notice is required to be given is reported in accordance with the Dangerous Substances Act 2004, the reporting under that Act is taken to be adequate notice of the incident for the purposes of this WHS Act.
Use the form DS-238 - Dangerous Occurence Report to notify under the DS Act.