Hazardous Substance Register

Workplace Chemical Process Vessel

Hazardous Substances

In this post, we will discuss Hazardous Substances and what all businesses have to do with respect to them. As such, we will provide details of:

  • What is a Hazardous Substance;
  • “Hazardous” versus “Non Hazardous” Hazardous Substances;
  • Safety Data Sheets (SDS);
  • Hazardous Substances Register.

What is a Hazardous Substance?

A Hazardous Substances is any “chemical” used in the workplace. Typically they will include items such as:-

  • Cleaning products;
  • Oils, greases and other lubricants;
  • Paints, thinners and sealants;
  • Fuels;
  • Cement, plaster or lime powder;
  • Gasses such as LPG, oxy-acetylene etc.

As such, any solid, liquid or gas based chemical is a Hazardous Substance. Therefore, no matter how or what it is used for in the workplace, that does not alter it being a Hazardous Substance.

As a consequence, even dish washing liquid that everyone uses at home is a Hazardous Substance in the workplace. Yes you may simply use it to wash dishes in the workplace, but it is still a Hazardous Substance. The reason being is that it is in a workplace, rather than a home. Hence, it is necessary to call it a Hazardous Substance.

The only things that are not a Hazardous Substance are any food, drink or medication.

“Hazardous” versus “Non Hazardous” Hazardous Substances

Now to add real confusion! Hazardous Substances have two different classifications being:

  • “Hazardous”; and
  • “Non-Hazardous”

The purpose of these two different classifications being to identify chemicals that have a high level of risk in the workplace versus those of lower risk.

For example Spirits of Salts (Hydrochloric Acid) is “Hazardous” whereas most lubricating oils are “Non-Hazardous”. A further example is “Toilet Bleach” is “Hazardous” but most dish washing liquids are “Non-Hazardous”.

As such, “Hazardous”, Hazardous Substances can easily result in serious injury or an immediate health effect. Whereas, “Non-Hazardous” Hazardous Substances would take long term incorrect exposure to cause an injury or long term health effect.

Safety Data Sheets (SDS)

It is a requirement for a manufacturer or importer of a Hazardous Substance to have readily available to any person who uses their Hazardous Substance, a Safety Data Sheet. Generally called an SDS but still sometimes called MSDS as explained below.

Australia is currently progressing to comply with a new international requirement to rename “Material Safety Data Sheets” as “Safety Data Sheets” or SDS for short. As a consequence, currently both names meet the legal requirement.

Furthermore, it is essential that a MSDS or a SDS is not greater than 5 years old from its date of publication. As such, a business needs to have a process of ensuring that where possible they have the latest MSDS or SDS. At the very least they need to ensure that no MSDS or SDS is greater than 5 years old from date of publication.

Hazardous Substances Register

A Hazardous Substance Register is a tabulated listing of all the Hazardous Substances that a business has at its workplace or at its client’s site, i.e. a construction site.

To assist with this requirement WorkSafe WA provides a Hazard Substances Register template that any business can use. You can download a copy by clicking on this link.

Therefore, businesses need to complete this register and have it available for viewing by any worker at the workplace. Included with the register should be all the relevant SDS (or MSDS) filed in alphabetical order.

For medium to large size businesses it is worth considering having a main Hazardous Substances Register as well as sub-registers in important work locations.

Furthermore, for businesses that have service crews on the road, it important that these crews carry a Hazardous Substances Register, complete with (M)SDS for the chemicals that they have in their service vehicle. The reason for this being that the service vehicle is their workplace and every workplace has to have a Hazardous Substances Register.

As detailed below, we can assist any businesses to set up their Hazardous Substances register and any sub-registers if required.

We Can Assist Your Business

We recognise that many businesses simply want to concentrate on their core work activities. As such, Safety Resources Australia can assist you with your Hazardous Substances legal requirements. Therefore we can: –

  • Undertake a Hazardous Substances survey at your workplace;
  • Complete your Hazardous Substances Register;
  • Obtain the (Material) Safety Data Sheets for the chemicals that we list on your register;
  • Develop any sub-registers for different areas of the workplace or service vehicles.

Contact Us

If you need any help with the management of Hazardous Substances at your workplace, please contact us.



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