Dangerous goods are items or substances that may present an immediate safety hazard through exposure to their explosive, flammable, radioactive, corrosive or toxic properties.
They are easily recognisable by the diamond shaped sign displayed on the substance label. They are designated into nine classes according to their immediate physical or chemical effects.
Hazardous substances are classified on the basis of their health effects, both short and long term. They can enter the human body in a number of ways including inhalation, ingestion and contact through the skin and mucus membranes such as the eyes. The level of subsequent risk depends upon both the substance itself and the nature of the work being done with it.
Please note that not all products used in the workplace would be classed as a hazardous substance. For further information on classification go to the Hazardous Substances Information System (HSIS) web page. A comprehensive list of hazardous substances can be found in the List of Designated Hazardous Substances.
Examples of types of hazardous substances (depending on their concentration) include:
- caustic substances
- agricultural type products
- solvents and thinners
Note: Dangerous Goods can also be classified as Hazardous Substances.
For more information, please refer to the Chemical Management Procedure.
InfoSafe Chemical Management System
Infosafe can be accessed by RMIT staff and students at MSDS Online, and is a database designed to assist with the management of chemicals used in RMIT activities and to meet the strict requirement of the Dangerous Goods and Hazardous Substances regulations.
- Access to original supplier MSDSs
- A customised inventory of Dangerous Goods and Hazardous Substances for all storage locations
- Advice on segregation and placarding
- A Workplace Risk Assessment module
- Infosafe Label module
Where would these issues be relevant?
Locations and venues where DGHS may be found can include:
- art studios
- cleaner’s storeroom and maintenance sheds/rooms
- kitchen cupboards
- chemical/gas storage areas.
What do you need to do?
All chemicals shall be assessed for risk prior to being purchased or obtained. Manufacturer’s or supplier’s Material Safety Data Sheets shall be obtained for all chemicals prior to assessment. Where possible, proposed new chemicals should be researched, assessed and trialed prior to purchase. The Responsible Manager or their nominated representative/s and the Health and Safety Representative for the area must carry out the assessment.
Chemical Register / InfoSafe
A register of all chemicals used/stored on site shall be generated by the Schools and Work Units.
The InfoSafe Electronic Chemical Management System contains a register of all chemicals used in each Faculty or Service unit as well as provide access to current manufacturer material safety data sheets, maintain a permanent record of risk assessments, generate substance labels, local hazardous substances registers and provide dangerous goods manifests for emergency services as required.
The Chemical Register must be updated when the following elements occur:
- New chemicals are introduced into the workplace
- Existing chemicals are no longer in use or being stored, must be deleted.
- The details of any revised or updated Material Safety Data Sheet must be entered.
Chemical hazard identification and risk assessment
It is the duty of the Responsible Manager or their nominated representative to ensure that all hazards associated with chemicals that are used, and stored, within their area, and transported to and from the area, are identified and assessed for risk.
Reference should be made to the following where applicable:
- Material Safety Data Sheets
- Consultants’ reports
- Information supplied from the supplier and/or manufacturer
The chemical risk assessment for Storage and Handling shall be undertaken using the Chemical Risk Assessment Form: Risk assessments should be carried out by someone who is trained in health and safety hazard and risk management.
Risk assessments can be carried out using the Infosafe system and utilising the Manufactures Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS).
The Chemical Risk Assessment shall include risk control options that follow the Hierarchy of Control. Where applicable, the risk controls that have been introduced shall be communicated to all staff, students, visitors and contractors who may be exposed to the chemicals.
Chemicals that have not met the requirements of the Risk Assessment must not be stored or used on site.