Storing and transporting hazardous chemicals

Hazardous chemicals must be stored and transported carefully according to specific regulatory requirements covered by transport legislation, and work health and safety (WHS) legislation.

Employees and employers must understand these regulatory requirements, as they are both responsible for storing and transporting chemicals safely.

Storing hazardous chemicals

If hazardous chemicals are not stored correctly, they can lead to contamination, fires, spills, gas releases, and toxic exposures. Information for storing any hazardous material can be found on its safety data sheet (SDS). You must store the products in a location that incorporates the appropriate risk control measures.

While the SDS will provide information on the safe storage of the product, specific details on the layout, design and construction of a suitable storage system is available in relevant Australian Standards.

Storing hazardous chemicals safely

A number of general principles for the safe storage of hazardous chemicals include (but are not limited to):

  • ensuring safe design, location and installation of storage and handling systems (e.g. racking systems, tanks)
  • separate incompatible substances to prevent reactive chemicals interacting
  • control potential ignition sources around flammable substances
  • have appropriate safety signage and placards
  • be prepared for spill containment and have clean up systems
  • have emergency plans in place to deal with an incident involving the hazardous chemicals
  • have the appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) and store it correctly (e.g. respirators sealed)
  • have fire-fighting equipment that is easily accessible
  • secure chemicals from unauthorised access.

Find out more about Managing risks of hazardous chemicals in the workplace - Code of practice 2013 (PDF, 1.7MB) and managing hazardous chemical risks.

Transporting hazardous chemicals

Many chemicals are both hazardous chemicals under the WHS regulations and dangerous goods under the transport regulations, particularly those with acute physical hazards. The Australian dangerous goods code provides the necessary information on transporting hazardous chemicals and dangerous goods for all states and territories in Australia (except the Northern Territory).

Read more about the relationship between hazardous chemicals and dangerous goods and about transporting dangerous goods in Queensland.

Checklist for transporting hazardous chemicals

When transporting chemicals:

  • avoid transporting with food, water or other reactive chemicals
  • follow the separation and segregation rules for transporting mixed classes of hazardous chemicals (those classified as dangerous goods)
  • secure hazardous chemicals on the vehicle so they can't move or fall
  • keep a record of the chemicals you are carrying
  • separate foodstuffs from chemicals
  • make sure you have the required signs and equipment for the vehicle
  • make sure the driver of the vehicle has the correct licence and is trained in emergency procedures.

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