Working Safely with Hazardous Substances

The Hazardous Substances Toolbox has been created to help PCBU's (person conducting a business or undertaking) who own or manage small industrial businesses work safely with hazardous substances.

The Toolbox will also help you to increase your compliance with the Hazardous Substances and New Organisms Act (HSNO) and offers some key health and safety principles from the Health and Safety at Work legislation.

The Toolbox is a multi-media package and some of the tools are available online only, other parts are available in print only, while others are available both online and in print. The Toolbox takes you through the 5 Steps to Safety and provides you with the tools to complete each step. You can learn more about the 5 Steps below.

The 5 Steps to Safety set out a 5 step process you must follow no matter what hazardous substances you use and store.

The Guide provides reference information about each point made in the 5 Steps to Safety.  The first step is to prepare an inventory of all of the hazardous substances at your workplace. 

The Workbook gives you instructions for filling out your inventory and an inventory form. The form is set up so that you will record all of the information needed to use the HSNO Calculator in step 5. 


Five Steps

  • Step 1

    prepare an inventory
    • Use your Workbook to make a list of all of the substances at your workplace and how much you have of each substance. Your Workbook helps you to record all of the information needed to use the HSNO Calculator.
  • Step 2

    Assess the risks and eliminate, isolate, minimise
    • Read the product label and safety data sheet to find out whether your substances are hazardous
    • Consider staff exposure to hazardous substances
    • Where possible, get rid of hazardous substances from your workplace or isolate their use away from people
    • If any staff may still be exposed, minimise exposure as much as possible.
  • Step 3

    use and store your substances safely
    • Train your staff about the substances they use and how to protect themselves
    • Provide staff with the correct safety gear
    • Store only what you need
    • Store your hazardous substances in labelled, leak-proof containers
    • Store incompatibles separately
    • Store gas cylinders safely
    • Store oxidisers safely
    • Be aware that flammable vapour can build up and accidently ignite.
  • Step 4

    get ready for an emergency
    • Have an annual emergency
      drill (not just a fire drill)
    • Make sure staff know how to use the safety equipment, personal protective equipment and how to give first aid
    • Be prepared for a spill.
  • Step 5

    key hsno controls

    Use the HSNO Calculator to find out whether you need the following key HSNO controls:

    • Fire extinguishers
    • Signs
    • Approved handler
    • Location test certificate
    • Hazardous atmosphere zones
    • Emergency response plan
    • Secondary containment (bunding).

    This booklet also includes information about the following key HSNO controls:

    • Approved filler
    • Stationary container system test certificate
    • Controlled zones
    • Tracking.