Transporting and storing hazardous chemicals is serious business. Chemicals are dangerous, after all – there’s all manner of laws, OHS requirements and common sense rules you’ll have to follow to keep everyone safe.
One of the most visible safety measures? Workplace safety signs and symbols.
Any workplace that deals with hazardous chemicals and the like needs to clearly display signs warning workers, visitors and contractors about the dangers posed by these substances, as what to do if a spill or leak occurs.
The operative word? Almost.
While hazchem signs are required under Australian OHS laws in most instances where hazardous chemicals are being stored, there are a handful of scenarios where they aren’t needed.
“There are situations where dangerous goods labels and hazchem signs aren’t mandatory?”
Hazchem signage is a crucial part of the workplace safety equation when hazardous chemicals are involved – that having been said, the model WHS Regulations allow for a couple of exceptions.
While we still recommend getting hazchem signs, emergency information panels and dangerous goods labels anyway, there are a couple of instances where you can get away with not putting up a sign.
1) If the hazardous chemicals in question are consumer products
Not all businesses and companies need strong chemicals to do heavy-duty cleaning and other work – a lot of them are able to get by using household chemicals from supermarket shelves for the same purpose.
Consumer-grade products are a lot weaker and less potent than commercial products. As a result, they operate under different, more lenient signage requirements.
Of course, it isn’t that straightforward – there’s a catch (a couple, actually).
Namely, the chemicals need to be:
- In quantities consistent with consumer use
- Used solely for their intended usage
- Reserved for incidental tasks like cleaning, not your main work
Most importantly, the original container needs to have a warning printed on it already.
Only when a chemical ticks all of these boxes will you be able to get away with forgoing the traditional hazchem sign or dangerous goods label.
That bottle of methylated spirits you use for spot cleaning? That’s A-okay.
An entire shipment of household bleach, however? In this case, you might need to put a sign up.
2) Agricultural and veterinary chemicals follow their own rules
Under Australian OHS laws, these types of chemicals don’t need full GHS labelling like others do.
However, that doesn’t mean that they don’t need signs. Rather, these types of chemicals are governed by the Agricultural Labelling Code and the Veterinary Labelling Code – two completely different labelling systems.
These codes set out different standards regarding what information is essential, and mandate that containers and labels need to include this information.
The upshot? You don’t need your own sign for it.
The only time additional signage is needed is if the label doesn’t have all the information it needs as laid out by these codes (in which case, our team is happy to pick up the slack with customer safety signs and labels!)
3) “Food and beverages shouldn’t need dangerous goods labels – after all, they’re edible!”
We know what you’re thinking – if it’s edible, surely it can’t be that bad? Does it really need a label or sign
While there are certain foods and beverages that might pose a hazard in certain circumstances, you don’t need to order a roll of dangerous goods labels to cover yourself.
The exception is when you’re dealing with large, bulk quantities.
While a single bottle of cooking wine or alcohol may not need a dangerous goods label, a pallet of the stuff does. After all, that much alcohol in a single container or pallet presents a significant fire hazard!
4) Cosmetics and toiletries
Hair dye. Hairspray. Dye and colouring products. Bleach. There are many products used in the beauty industry that could present hazards to health and well-being like:
- Dermatitis (skin conditions)
- Breathing issues
- Eye, nose and throat irritation
- Dizziness, nausea and headaches
Despite these potential side-effects however, they’re exempted from WHS labelling requirements for businesses that use or sell them for consumer use.
Of course, there are still exceptions – for example, if you’re using these chemicals and substances not for beauty applications but for other uses, or are dealing with large quantities, we suggest ordering hazchem signs, class diamonds and dangerous goods labels just to be safe.
5) Size matters – what happens when the container is too small to fit a dangerous goods label onto it?
Dangerous goods signs and labels are supposed to be used on all containers containing hazardous or dangerous goods.
Of course, there’s a problem: a lot of the time, the container will simply be too small to fit a label or sign on it!
Not all signage manufacturers provide signs and labels this small – that’s why Australian OHS regulations have exceptions for small containers.
When it isn’t possible to use all the required labelling and signage in a manner that’s clear and easy-to-read, you might be able to get away with using less visual information.
Of course, while the law allows a labelling exemption for small packages, that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t try anyway!
We here at Signsmart produce a huge range of dangerous goods labels in a variety of different sizes, all the way down to 20mm x 20mm class diamonds – this is what allows us to help keep you and your team safe, no matter how small the package.22
Stay safe with our online sign shop
Staying safe starts with the right signage
Hazchem signs, dangerous goods labels, emergency information panels in… these signs are crucial when dealing with hazardous chemicals of any sort.
While OHS regulations allow for exemptions under certain circumstances, in the vast majority of cases, you’ll need signs to ensure your workplace passes muster.
Fortunately, that’s something we can help with.
In addition to supplying a huge range of signs (including both premade and custom workplace hazard signs), our team are also signage experts with in-depth knowledge about Australian OHS laws – in particular, the guidelines around workplace safety signs.
If you’re struggling to meet your workplace safety requirements, our team can help.
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You can also visit us for hazchem signs in Melbourne: pop into our office at 122 Whitehall Street, Footscray, VIC 3011.