This booklet is one in a series of eight legal booklets for farmers
- About the booklet
- Key terms, acronyms and abbreviations
- Relevant laws, guidelines and Codes
- Roles and responsibilities
- Legislation and the farmer
- Further information
About the booklet
This booklet is one of a series of eight covering legal aspects of managing a farm:
- Chemical Management
- Introduction to Occupational Health and Safety
- Livestock Management
- Noxious Weed and Pest Animal Management
- Soil Management
- Waste Management
- Water Management
Each booklet provides a list of the relevant legislative Acts and explains the purpose of each Act.
They have been written for land managers and primary producers. Each booklet consists of the following sections:
Key terms, acronyms and abbreviations – an explanation of some of the language and terms used throughout the booklet.
Introduction – a summary of the intention of the legislation.
Roles and responsibilities – an explanation of roles played by national, state and local governments, their agencies and farmers.
Relevant laws, guidelines and Codes – the relevant Acts, guidelines and Codes covering farm management in Victoria.
Legislation and the farmer – A table of potential situations with an explanation of a farmer's obligations or the implications under the relevant Acts in Victoria.
Dangerous Goods – Substances or articles that are corrosive, flammable, explosive, spontaneously combustible, toxic, oxidising or water-reactive (and thus present an immediate hazard to people, property or the environment). Petrol, LPG, paints, pesticides and acids are examples of commonly used dangerous goods. The criteria used to determine whether substances are classified as Dangerous Goods are contained in the Australian Dangerous Goods Code (ADG Code) according to their common hazardous properties. The following are examples of active ingredients that are contained in agricultural chemical products which are Dangerous Goods: fenitrothion, dichlorvos, paraquat, carbaryl and phosphine. Dangerous Goods are classified on the basis of immediate physical or chemical effects – such as fire, explosion, corrosion and poisoning – on property, the environment or people.
Hazardous Substances – Substances that, following exposure, can have an adverse effect on health. Examples of Hazardous Substances include poisons, substances that cause burns or skin and eye irritation, and substances that may cause cancer. Hazardous substances are classified only on the basis of health effects, both immediate and long-term. They are covered by the Occupational Health and Safety Regulations 2007. Many substances are both hazardous substances and dangerous goods, and in these cases, both sets of laws will apply.
Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) – A document that describes the chemical and physical properties of a material and provides advice on its safe storage, handling and use. It includes details of health and physicochemical hazards, exposure controls, personal protective equipment, safe handling and storage instructions, emergency procedures and disposal advice.
Maximum residue limit (MRL) – The maximum level of a chemical that is legally permitted to be present in food, and is generally expressed in milligrams of the chemical per kilograms of the food (mg/kg). This limit represents the level of residue that should not be exceeded if good agricultural practice is followed. MRLs are set by the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority (APVMA) and Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ).
Acronyms / abbreviations
| ACCAs || Agricultural Chemical Control Areas |
| ACUP || Agricultural Chemical User Permit |
| APVMA || Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority |
| CVD || Commodity Vendor Declaration |
| DoH || Department of Health |
| DPI || Department of Primary Industries |
| DSE || Department of Sustainability and Environment |
| EPA || Environment Protection Authority |
| GAP || Good Agricultural Practice |
| MRL || Maximum residue limit |
| MSDS || Material Safety Data Sheet |
| OHS || Occupational Health and Safety |
| WHP || Withholding period |
Agricultural and veterinary chemicals are used to protect crops, livestock and other animals and plants from unwanted weeds, pests and diseases. They include pesticides, such as insecticides, fungicides and herbicides, and veterinary medicines. Agricultural and veterinary chemicals help agricultural industries to be more productive, improve produce quality and be more competitive on world markets.
Land owners have a responsibility to manage chemicals on their property in a way that does not adversely affect their neighbours and to ensure produce is free from unacceptable chemical residues.
Legislation obligation and community concerns regarding the use of chemicals in the environment and in food put ever-increasing pressure on farmers to use chemicals safely and responsibly.
Using a product in accordance with the label instructions will ensure that agricultural produce meets domestic standards.
The Victorian control of use system has been designed to enhance Good Agricultural Practice (GAP). By monitoring compliance with the Agricultural and Veterinary Chemicals (Control of Use) Act 1992 and its associated regulations, Victoria can demonstrate responsible farm chemical use.
The main rules
- There are legislative restrictions regarding the use of agricultural and veterinary chemicals and the supply and use of certain higher risk chemicals. Further, some registered chemicals are prohibited from use in certain circumstances, or may only be used by persons holding specific licences.
- Off-label use refers to situations when a chemical is used in a manner that is not specified on the chemical product label. In certain circumstances, the off-label use of a chemical may be allowed in Victoria, whilst in other circumstances this is illegal without a specific permit allowing that use.
- People in the business of commercially applying agricultural chemicals need to have a chemical use licence (e.g., Commercial Operators Licence (COL) for ground-based chemical applications, or a Pilot (Chemical Rating) Licence (PCRL) for when agricultural chemicals are applied by air).
- People who use higher risk agricultural chemical products need to hold an Agricultural Chemical User Permit (ACUP) or be working under a commercial or pilot licence.
- It is an offence under the Agricultural and Veterinary Chemicals (Control of Use) Act 1992 to undertake agricultural spraying that results in damage or contamination to plants or stock outside the target area. Causing off-target spray drift which affects the environment, human health or worker safety may also be an offence under other Acts.
- Notification laws apply when spraying agricultural chemicals by air or mister within 200 metres of a school, hospital, aged-care service or children's service such as a kindergarten or child-care centre.
- Restrictions apply to certain types of herbicides, their method of application and the periods in which certain chemicals can be applied in Agricultural Chemical Control Areas (ACCAs).
- It is compulsory to make and keep specific records of agricultural and veterinary chemical use.
Visit the Chemical Use section of this website for more information.
Relevant laws, guidelines and Codes
Agricultural and Veterinary Chemicals (Control of Use) Act 1992
Agricultural and Veterinary Chemicals (Control of Use) Regulations 2007; and
Agricultural and Veterinary Chemicals (Control of Use) (Fertiliser) Regulations 2005.
The Agricultural and Veterinary Chemicals (Control of Use) Act 1992 imposes controls in relation to the use and application of agricultural and veterinary chemicals, fertilisers, and stockfoods in Victoria.
The Agricultural and Veterinary Chemicals (Control of Use) Regulations 2007 sets out the record-keeping requirements for agricultural and veterinary chemical users. They also impose further controls on veterinarians and mandate notification of spraying near sensitive areas.
There are various Orders created under the Act which place further controls over the use of agricultural and veterinary chemicals in Victoria.
The content and labelling of fertilisers sold in Victoria is regulated under the Agricultural and Veterinary Chemicals (Control of Use) (Fertiliser) Regulations 2005.
Dangerous Goods Act 1985
Dangerous Goods (Storage and Handling) Interim Regulations 2011
The Dangerous Goods Act regulates the manufacturing, storage, transfer, transport, sale, purchase and use of dangerous goods.
The Dangerous Goods Act seeks to ensure that adequate precautions are taken against any explosions, leakages or spillages of dangerous goods, and to allocate responsibilities to land owners and occupiers to ensure the health and safety of all persons.
WorkSafe regulates the storage and handling of dangerous goods under the Act and its Regulations. Certain types of work involve higher risk for workers and members of the public and there are specific requirements in dangerous goods laws that require occupiers of workplaces to notify WorkSafe about the quantities of dangerous goods they hold (where occupiers hold quantities that exceed those listed in Schedule 2 of the Regulations).
The Dangerous Goods legislation establishes nine classes of dangerous goods according to their common hazardous properties. A number of classes have sub-classes. The duties vary according to the class of goods and some exemptions apply if small amounts are handled.
The Interim Regulations will expire in December 2012. For further information, contact WorkSafe on 1800 136 089.
Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004
This Act is designed to provide a safe working environment for workers and for people who visit premises where the presence of chemicals may present a risk to their health and safety. The Occupational Health and Safety Act and accompanying Regulations relate not only to 'dangerous' but also to 'hazardous' substances.
We note the Victorian government does not intend to adopt the proposed legislative changes for the national harmonisation of OHS law in their current form and therefore Victorian OHS law will continue to apply in the foreseeable future (although we note that the Victorian Government supports in principle a national harmonisation of workplace and safety laws and there may be changes to the law in the future).
Proposed Work Health and Safety Act
The Australian Government has identified OHS as a priority area for reform. One of the key elements of the OHS reform agenda is harmonisation – moving towards nationally consistent OHS laws.
Safe Work Australia is responsible for developing national model OHS legislation. The model legislation will consist of a principal OHS Act, supported by model regulations and model Codes of practice that can be readily adopted around Australia. This requires each state and territory to pass their own laws that mirror the model OHS laws. However, WorkSafe Victoria and the State Government have publicly stated that Victoria will not be adopting the national model workplace and safety laws in their current form. Therefore, the existing Victorian OHS laws and regulations continue to apply for the foreseeable future.
Other relevant legislation
Public Health and Wellbeing Act 2008 and Public Health and Wellbeing Regulations 2009
The Public Health and Wellbeing Act 2008 and Public Health and Wellbeing Regulations 2009 came into effect on 1 January 2010.
The purpose of this Act is to promote and protect public health and wellbeing. Among other things, it provides a legislative scheme for the licensing of pest controllers and the use of pesticides other than for the purposes of horticulture, agriculture, water treatment, weed control or control of pest animals covered by the Catchment and Land Protection Act 1994. The Public Health and Wellbeing Act, therefore, provides for domestic, commercial and industrial pest control licensing and makes it an offence to cause a nuisance which is dangerous to health or offensive.. The Department of Health (DoH) administers the legislation in co-operation with local councils.
Environment Protection Act 1970
Under the Environment Protection Act 1970, it is an offence to cause land, air, water or noise pollution from the use of chemicals. This affects disposal of unused chemicals and chemical containers. EPA administers the legislation in co-operation with local councils.
Drugs, Poisons and Controlled Substances Act 1981
This legislation defines what drugs and poisons are, and places these substances in various schedules based on a number of factors. Licences and permits are issued under the Act that limit the manufacture, distribution and use of scheduled poisons to those people who are properly trained and equipped.
Roles and responsibilities
The management of chemicals on farm is a shared responsibility between all three levels of government (Australian, state and local governments) and land owners. The Australian Government regulates the registration and supply of the relevant chemicals while the states regulate the use of those chemicals.
The Victorian Government regulates the use of agricultural and veterinary chemicals after the point of retail sale. The regulations cover basic training requirements for users; licensing of commercial pest control operators and ground and aerial spray operators; arrangements to enforce the safe use of chemicals, including regulating spray drift. DPI ensures that Victoria's standards for chemical and pesticide use are implemented, and promotes their safe use through working with peak farming industry bodies and individual producers.
Under the Environment Protection Act 1970, it is an offence to cause land, air, water or noise pollution. This affects disposal of unused chemicals and chemical containers. The Environment Protection Authority (EPA) administers the legislation in co-operation with local councils.
WorkSafe Victoria is responsible for enforcing Victoria's occupational health and safety laws including the impact of workplace practices on the public (e.g. spray drift).
DoH and local councils are responsible for regulating spray drift where it may have an adverse impact on human health.
Land owners and land occupiers have a responsibility to manage chemicals on their property in a way that does not adversely affect their neighbours, to ensure the health and safety of employees and to ensure clean produce for consumers.
Legislation and the farmer
Key questions for farmers about chemical management
Consider the following questions. If you are unsure of the answers to these questions, look through the table on the following pages for more information or phone our Customer Service Centre on 136 186.
Keeping track of chemicals
- Do you use and keep records of:
- All agricultural chemical products
- Prescription animal remedy medicines obtained from a veterinary practitioner, and for all veterinary chemicals with a withholding period (WHP)?
- How do you store your chemicals?
- Do you use horticultural by-products as stock feed?
- Do you add veterinary medicines in stock feed or water?
- Do you comply with your specific duties regarding the reduction of risk for the storage of Dangerous Goods and Hazardous Substances?
- Do you dispose of empty chemical containers through the drumMUSTER program?
- Do you maintain a register of current Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) for all products you use or store?
- Do you only buy, store and use chemicals on an as needed basis?
- Do you dispose of chemicals as soon as they become unwanted through the ChemClear program?
- If you have stored a product for an extended period of time, do you check to see if it is still allowed to be used?
How good are your practices?
- Do you always read and follow the product label or permit instructions in full before using any chemical product?
- Are you using the chemical in accordance with the product label or relevant permit instructions?
- Do you know which chemicals may be used off-label in certain circumstances and which must be used in strict accordance with the product label or permit instructions?
- Has your spraying equipment been recently calibrated?
- Does the storage and application of chemicals pose risks of pollution to water or the land? (See also Waste Management booklet)
- Are you ensuring that you do not cause off-target spray drift?
- Is your property within an Agricultural Chemical Control Area and are you observing its restrictions?
- As a person in charge of premises where Dangerous Goods are kept, do you take reasonable precautions against damage to property and injury to the public?
People on your farm
- If you have employees who use agricultural and veterinary chemicals, have they completed farm chemical use training? If so, do they hold any required licences or permits?
- If you have employees who use agricultural and veterinary chemicals, do you carry out a risk assessment for workplace health and safety purposes?
- Do you have workers who handle Hazardous Substances or Dangerous Goods and do they have access to the current MSDS for all products?
- Are visitors to your premises protected from the effects of Dangerous Goods?
- Do you abide by the duties of care towards visitors under occupational health and safety laws?
Farm activity or situation On-farm obligations or implications
|Chemical labels |
- Always read the entire label before using a chemical product and follow the label directions. Labels provide information on the chemical product, including its contents, toxicity, hosts (plant or animal) that the chemical may be used on in each state, pests that are controlled by the chemical in each state, application rate, application methods, re-treatment intervals, restraints, WHPs and safety directions.
|Permitted and prohibited chemical use |
- The law distinguishes between chemicals that must only be used for certain purposes and those that must not be used for certain purposes.
- Visit the Chemical use section of this website for information on prohibited uses of agricultural chemical products and the main rules applicable to using agricultural and veterinary chemicals in Victoria.
|Unregistered chemicals |
- You must not use an unregistered agricultural chemical. Chemicals that have expired, cancelled or suspended registration may, in some cases, be used within two years from the point when the chemical became unregistered, but cannot be sold or supplied. Otherwise a permit is required.
- Unwanted farm chemicals can be correctly disposed of by contacting ChemClear, while drumMUSTER recycles clean chemical containers (see 'Further Information').
- Unregistered veterinary chemicals may only be sold or authorised for use on a single food producing animals by a veterinary practitioner
|'Restricted use' chemicals |
- Victoria has specific controls over a group of higher risk agricultural chemical products known as 'restricted use' chemicals.
- 'Restricted use' chemicals are agricultural chemical products that:
- are Schedule 7 Poisons (Dangerous Poisons)
- contain atrazine, metham sodium or ester formulations of 2,4-D, 2,4-DB, MCPA or triclopyr.
- 'Restricted use' chemicals must only be used according to the label directions.
- Users of 'restricted use' chemicals need a DPI chemical use licence or permit (for more information, visit the Chemical use section of this website).
|Agricultural chemical user permit (ACUP) |
- An Agricultural Chemical User Permit (ACUP) is required if you are using agricultural chemical products that are 'restricted use' chemicals.
- People using 'restricted use' chemicals must have an ACUP or be working under the direct supervision of an ACUP holder as these chemicals pose a risk to the user and the environment, hence are best handled by trained users.
- Five types of ACUP endorsements are available:
- Standard – authorises the use of 'restricted use' chemicals, except for those listed below.
- 1080 (Sodium fluoroacetate) – authorises the use of pest animal bait products that contain 1080.
- Fumigants – authorises the use of agricultural chemical products that contain methyl bromide, or phosphine for formulated as liquefied gas. Note that only a standard ACUP is needed to use products that contain solid metallic phosphide (tablets, blankets, etc).
- Pindone Concentrate – authorises the use of agricultural chemical products that contain pindone concentrate for the preparation of poison baits.
- Copper Chrome Arsenate (CCA) – authorises the use of CCA chemical for timber treatment.
- ACUPs are available which comprise different combinations of these endorsement types except for CCA, which is issued as a separate permit. Note: you cannot obtain a 1080 endorsed ACUP without also having a 'Standard' endorsement.
- Victorian farmers who wish to use 1080 products must have a 1080 endorsement ACUP to purchase and use these products.
- Training is a prerequisite for obtaining the ACUP and is also recommended by DPI for anyone who uses any agricultural or veterinary chemical.
- Specific training courses must be completed to obtain a certain endorsement on an ACUP as listed on the application form.
- Application forms are available for download from the Chemical use section of this website.
- An ACUP is not required by people:
- who have, or are working under a COL or PCRL issued by DPI
- who have a Pest Control Operators Licence issued by the Department of Health
- who have completed an appropriate course in agricultural chemical use and operate under a recognised quality assurance program that requires chemicals to be used in accordance with label directions and is independently audited at regular intervals of less than two years.
|Commercial licences |
- Anyone who provides a commercial service of applying agricultural chemicals for a fee or reward needs to hold one or more of the following licences:
- Commercial Operators Licence (COL)
- Agricultural Aircraft Operator Licence (AAOL)
- Pilot (Chemical Rating) Licence (PCRL).
- For information on these licences, visit the Chemical use section of this website.
- People in the business of pest control (domestic and commercial premises) require a Pest Control Operators Licence issued by DoH (contact the DoH Pest Control Program on 1300 887 090). All pest controllers need to obtain a licence, however a trainee must obtain a permit to provide chemical application under supervision of a licensed pest controller.
|Off-label use |
- Chemical users should always follow the label directions of use. Chemical labels are approved by the APVMA and contain all necessary information covering storage, use and disposal of the chemical, including application rate, re-treatment intervals, restraints and WHPs.
- 'Off-label use' refers to situations when a registered chemical is used in a manner that is not specified on the product label.
- It is not illegal to use agricultural chemicals off-label as long as the user complies with the following requirements:
– the product is not a 'restricted use' chemical (to use 'restricted use' chemicals off-label, a permit must be issued by DPI to authorise the use)
– the maximum label rate for that use is not exceeded, unless a permit has been issued by the APVMA
– the chemical is not used at intervals more frequent than the intervals for that use as stated on the label, unless a permit has been issued by the APVMA
– the chemical is not used in a way that the label specifically states it must not be used (e.g. 'DO NOT apply by air'), unless a permit has been issued by the APVMA.
- In addition, a DPI permit is required to use insecticides (defined as 'an agricultural chemical product intended for control of insects') to stored grain, grain during transit, or immediately before transit by a road transport vehicle unless the label expressly permits the insecticide's use in that manner.
- Also, agricultural chemical products containing the following active ingredients must not be applied by means of back-mounted spraying equipment: mevinphos, paraquat and methamidophos.
- Off-label use is not recommended by DPI and is not included within a manufacturer's warranty. All aspects of off-label use are the user's responsibility, including efficacy, chemical residues in produce and the environment, environmental safety and OH&S issues
- It is recommended that you consult a chemical reseller or agronomist for advice prior to using a chemical off-label (even if that chemical is not a 'restricted use' chemical).
- Apart from any penalties that may apply to off-label use, DPI does not recommend off-label use and notes that the practice can have other consequences such as loss of warranty and unacceptable chemical residues in treated produce.
- The presence of unacceptable residues in produce can have significant consequences for growers, packers, and sometimes whole agricultural industries. Persons using chemicals in an off-label manner must ensure unacceptable residues do not occur.
- Agricultural chemicals are not permitted to be applied to an animal, unless the use is in accordance with a permit or the use is on a single animal and is conducted by a veterinary practitioner or a person acting in accordance with the written instructions of a veterinary practitioner
- Some off-label use of veterinary chemical products is allowed in animals other than the major species (pigs, chickens, sheep and cattle) provided the dose rate and frequency of treatment is not exceeded. Only veterinary practitioners, or persons authorised in writing by a veterinary practitioner or who hold a permit are allowed to use products off-label in the major species.
- A person must not carry out agricultural spraying that injuriously affects any plants or stock outside the target area, or which injures any land outside the target area so that growing plants or keeping stock on the land would result in contamination, including produce derived from the stock or plants.
- It is also an offence to carry out agricultural spraying which contaminates any stock outside the target area or which is likely to contaminate any agricultural produce derived from plants or stock outside the target area.
- DPI has the authority to control contaminated stock, produce or land, including restricting their movement, sale or use until they are proved to be fit for purpose.
- Victoria has specific locations, known as Agricultural Chemical Control Areas (ACCAs), which restrict the use of certain herbicides by certain application methods during certain time periods. These restrictions are in place to protect high-value, herbicide-sensitive crops from damage. It is necessary to check with DPI as to whether the area to be sprayed is within an ACCA.
- The ACCAs are: Mallee and mid-Murray, Extended Mallee, Goulburn Valley, North Eastern, Melbourne, Lindenow, Orbost, Boisdale and Rutherglen.
- Notification laws apply when spraying agricultural chemicals by air or mister within 200 metres of a school, hospital, aged-care service or children's service such as a kindergarten or child-care centre. Visit the Chemical use section of this website for details.
- It is a legal requirement to make specific records for all agricultural chemicals used in Victoria within 48 hours of the use, and keep these records for at least two years. See Legal requirements for AgVet chemical use in Victoria to see what the records must include.
- Records must also be made and kept for all Schedule 4 Prescription Animal Remedy products used and all animal health products that have applicable WHPs. These records must be made within 48 hours of use and kept for two years.
- Best practice is to make the records at the time of application.
- A register must be maintained of Dangerous Goods kept on premises. Some exemptions apply. Check with WorkSafe.
|Withholding periods (WHPs) |
- A WHP is the minimum length of time that must elapse between the last application of an agricultural chemical to a crop and the harvest, sale or use of the agricultural produce to which the chemical was applied.
- WHPs are stated on the chemical product label. The law places the onus on the owner of the produce to ensure they are observed.
- The sale of stock within the relevant WHP is permitted only if the seller notifies the buyer in writing that the WHP has not expired. Usually this is done on the National Vendor Declaration (NVD).
- Agricultural produce should not be harvested within the WHP. If this occurs, sale of the agricultural produce is only permitted if the seller notifies the buyer in writing that the WHP had not expired when the produce was harvested. This includes cutting failed crops early for stockfeed or hay.
|Sale of contaminated produce |
- It is an offence to sell or offer to sell agricultural produce if it is contaminated, meaning it contains a contaminant residue at a level above the maximum residue limit (MRL) or, where no MRL is established, at such a level that the produce would not comply with the Food Act 1984. It is critical to ensure this does not occur in order to protect producers' access to domestic and international markets.
|Stock feeding |
- Care must be taken in feeding crop waste to livestock because of the risk of chemical residues. Suppliers should be asked to certify that the material is suitable for feeding livestock through the provision of a Commodity Vendor Declaration (CVD) or By-Product Vendor Declaration.
- National Vendor Declaration (NVD) forms detail feeding by-product stock food to the livestock offered for sale.
- Animal material cannot be fed to ruminant species (ruminant means any animal that chews its cud).
|Administering a chemical to an animal |
- Farmers must not use agricultural chemicals to treat stock animals unless authorised in writing by a veterinary practitioner and it must be only for a single stock animal.
- Farmers must only use Schedule 4 Prescription Animal Remedy products according to the directions provided by the dispensing veterinary practitioner.
- Farmers treating major species (i.e. cattle, sheep, pigs or chickens) with an 'over-the-counter' product (e.g. vaccines, worm drenches, lice treatments) must only use a product that is registered for the intended purpose and in accordance with the label directions, or obtain written authorisation from a veterinary practitioner to use the product contrary to the label directions.
- 'Over-the-counter' products can be used off-label to treat minor species (e.g. goats, alpacas, and turkeys), however, care must be taken ensure that there are no unacceptable chemical residues.
- A product registered for oral or topical use must not be administered by injection.
- Agricultural and veterinary chemicals should be stored according to the Australian Standard AS 2507 – 1998. Most farms will have quantities and types of chemical that will not exceed this classification.
- Store chemicals in an isolated, secure, well-ventilated and dry area out of direct sunlight.
- Obligations also arise in relation to Dangerous Goods (see below).
- Wherever possible, only purchase products on an as needed basis, as the simplest way to reduce your risk is not to have to store the product for longer than necessary..
|Transport, disposal, protective equipment |
- When chemicals are also Dangerous Goods or Hazardous Substances, there are applicable laws which must be observed.
- For example, a licence to transport dangerous goods by road is required when the dangerous goods being transported are in a receptacle with a capacity of 500 litres or more, or the load of dangerous goods is greater than 500kg.
- Labels and MSDSs have detailed information on the transport, disposal and Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) requirements.
|Dangerous Goods |
- A person in charge of a premises where Dangerous Goods are stored or of a vehicle where they are transported has a general duty to take all reasonable precautions against fire, explosions, leakages and damage to property or danger to the public. 'Reasonable' is what an informed objective third person would regard as reasonable.
- An occupier of premises where Dangerous Goods are stored or handled must: – identify any relevant hazards (e.g. activities that might occur in the vicinity of the goods) – having identified the hazard, the occupier must carry out a risk assessment and keep a record of the assessment – eliminate, or, if not practical, reduce the risk that might be achieved by reducing the quantity of goods or substituting less Dangerous Goods. - prepare a record if dangerous goods exceed prescribed quantities - display appropriate signage - provide an appropriate fire protection system and develop an emergency plan - keep a register of all dangerous goods that are stored or handled at the premises and make it accessible - obtain a current MSDS for each dangerous good supplied to your premises and make it accessible - not alter the information on a MSDS - ensure that containers and packages of dangerous goods are properly labelled
- Apart from the general duty to reduce risk, the Regulations contain specific duties to reduce or eliminate risk relating to: – the design of new premises or processes – isolation of goods – condition of structures and plant – disposing of containers no longer used – spill control – transfer of goods – ignition sources – ventilation.
|Dangerous Goods (continued) |
- Some Dangerous Goods are exempt from the Dangerous Goods Regulations because they are being applied to an ordinary use, such as a battery in a vehicle or where the goods form part of a plant and are necessary for its operation.
- Dangerous Goods may also be exempt because only small quantities are kept such as fuels in an aggregate quantity of not more than 250 litres. Contact WorkSafe Victoria for information.
- If certain quantities of Dangerous Goods are held, then HAZCHEM placards will be required. HAZCHEM signs warn that you have large quantities of dangerous goods at the premises. The quantities requiring HAZCHEM outer warning placards are set out in and what the sign should look like are set out in the Regulations. Contact WorkSafe Victoria for more information.
- The occupier of premises where Dangerous Goods are stored must ensure that suitable equipment for clean up and fire protection are present.
- The occupier must ensure that the current MSDS is obtained on the first occasion when the goods are supplied and remains available.
- Dangerous Goods must remain in their containers or packages and if removed into portable containers then certain information must be affixed to the portable container regarding the class of goods, risk label and product name.
- Accidents regarding Dangerous Goods have to be reported, without delay, to the fire authority or police. This law does not apply to accidents involving packaged Dangerous Goods of less than 250 kilograms or 250 litres so long as no one is injured and there is no damage to property.
- If there is an incident the occupier of the premises must investigate the incident and review the risk assessment and correct any deficiencies in the system of storage and handling. They also must record the incident, keep the record for five years and make it available to WorkSafe Victoria on request.
- For a complete list of Dangerous Goods contact WorkSafe Victoria.
|Dangerous Goods and workers |
- The occupier of premises where Dangerous Goods are stored and handled must consult with workers regarding training, hazard identification, risk assessment and risk control, including any proposed changes to the premises that are likely to increase that risk.
- The training and induction has to be commensurate with the risks associated with storage and handling. The regulations set out the areas to be covered in the training and induction. Contact WorkSafe Victoria.
- A record has to be kept of induction and training activities.
- An employer cannot rely solely on administrative controls or protective equipment to eliminate or reduce risks of Dangerous Goods.
- Protective clothing must be properly maintained.
|Dangerous Goods and visitors |
- The occupier of premises where Dangerous Goods are stored and handled must ensure that visitors are provided with information and supervision to ensure the risks associated with the goods is reduced as far as practicable.
|Hazardous Substances and workers |
- Hazardous substances are substances that have the potential to harm people's health. They can be solids, liquids or gases, and when used in the workplace, they are often in the form of fumes, dusts, mists and vapours.
- Examples of hazardous substances include acute toxins such as cyanide, substances harmful after repeated or prolonged exposure such as mercury and silica, corrosives such as sulphuric acid and caustic soda, irritants such as ammonia, sensitising agents such as isocyanates, and carcinogens (cancer causing substances) such as benzene and vinyl chloride.
- A substance is defined as hazardous if:
– it is listed on the national Hazardous Substances Information System and the concentration of the substance or its ingredients equals or exceeds the listed concentration cut-off levels (see hsis.safeworkaustralia.gov.au), or
– it meets the criteria set out in the national Approved Criteria for Classifying Hazardous Substances
- There is a general duty to control the risk of Hazardous Substances. The risks cover all aspects of their presence in the workplace such as to the handling, application and storage and a specific duties regarding risks and the necessary controls.
|Hazardous Substances – specific duties of employers |
- Specific duties set out by the WorkSafe Victoria include:
– Obtain MSDS and have it accessible to employees.
– Ensure containers are labelled and remain so until cleaned. Separate labelling is not required if containers have already been labelled according to equivalent hazardous substances legislation of other Australian jurisdictions, or are labelled in keeping with specified agricultural, veterinary or therapeutic goods legislation.
– Keep a register of Hazardous Substances and ensure that it is accessible to employees.
– Undertake risk assessment, record, review and revise.
– Control risks, e.g. by substituting less hazardous substances, isolating employees, using engineering controls. The benchmark here is what is 'as far as practicable'.
– Ensure risk control measures are properly maintained.
– Ensure exposure standards are not exceeded.
– Undertake atmospheric monitoring where there is an exposure standard and provide results to employees.
– Health surveillance for employees exposed to a 'scheduled' hazardous substance and there is a reasonable likelihood of an adverse health effect occurring under the particular conditions of use. Some examples of relevant substances are: crystalline silica, methaline bis, vinyl chloride, isocyanates, organophosphate pesticides, acryl. Speak to WorkSafe Victoria for more information.
– Provide instruction and training to employees regarding the nature of the Hazardous Substances and the need for control measures.
– Consult with employees representatives (if practicable) about risk and its control.
|Overlap between Dangerous Goods and Hazardous Substances |
- Hazardous substances are classified on the basis of health effects, whether acute (immediate) or chronic (longer term).
- Dangerous goods are classified on the basis of immediate physical or chemical effects, such as fire, explosion, corrosion and poisoning. An incident involving dangerous goods has the potential to seriously affect property or the environment.
- Many substances are both hazardous substances and dangerous goods, and in these cases, both sets of laws will apply.
|Chemicals and occupational health and safety |
- There is a general duty under the Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004 for employers to provide (so far as practicable) a safe working environment.
- This duty extends to activities connected to the use, handling, storage and transport of substances and is broadly consistent with the requirements under the more specific laws covering Hazardous Substances and Dangerous Goods.
|Occupational health and safety and visitors |
- The employer has a duty to persons other than employees to ensure that they are not exposed to risks to their health or safety, including the means of access to the premises. This would include customers and other visitors whose presence is related to the employer's business.
For up-to-date information on managing chemicals on farms in Victoria phone the DPI Customer Service Centre on 136 186.
National Chemical Information Gateway website
For information about chemicals used in Australia: www.deh.gov.au/chemicals-gateway
Safe Work Australia
For information on dangerous goods and hazardous substances: www.safeworkaustralia.gov.au
Publications available include: National Standard for the Storage and Handling of Workplace Dangerous Goods National Code of Practice for the Storage and Handing of Dangerous Goods Hazardous Substances Information System: hsis.safeworkaustralia.gov.au/
1800 136 089
For a range of useful information visit our Chemical use section.
Publications available include:
- Record-keeping templates for agricultural and veterinary chemical use and for poison baiting
- A guide to using agricultural chemicals in Victoria
- A Guide to Victorian Fertilisers
- Educational videos on boom spray setup and spray drift management
To dispose of unwanted farm chemicals phone: 1800 008 182; Web: www.chemclear.com.au
To recycle clean chemical containers phone: (02) 6230 6712; Web: www.drummuster.com.au
A course tailored to suit the needs of growers and other groups allied to agriculture. Any growers or other personnel involved in the handling or use of agricultural chemicals are encouraged to complete this course. It is also a compulsory pre-requisite for applying for an ACUP, required for the use of Schedule 7 and restricted chemicals and the purchase of 1080 baits.
Workplace managers (including owner-operators) must meet specific obligations if they transport, store or use hazardous substances. This course provides the required information and all the tools required to comply with these requirements, amongst others, and to have a much safer workplace. See also the the AgVet Chemical Users Course (which is a pre-requisite course requirement by DPI for issue of an ACUP, required for restricted use chemicals).
AusChem Victoria provides high quality training in agricultural and veterinary chemical use. The Farm Chemical Users Course provides the level of training needed by producers to make sure that they understood the requirements to use agricultural and veterinary chemicals safely and effectively. The course also encourages people to think about using alternatives to chemicals in their production systems by taking a risk management approach. The course has become the industry standard for AgVet chemical training and provides the necessary outcomes for participation in most of the industry quality assurance programs including CattleCare, FlockCare, GrainCare, FreshCare and MilkCare.
ISBN 978-1-74264-494-3 (print)
ISBN 978-1-74264-495-0 (online)
This publication may be of assistance to you but the State of Victoria and its employees do not guarantee that the publication is without flaw of any kind or is wholly appropriate for your particular purposes and therefore disclaims all liability for any error, loss or other consequence which may arise from you relying on any information in this publication.