The Health and Safety at Work (Hazardous Substances) Regulations 2017 come into force on December 1. They aim to reduce harm from work-related activities involving hazardous substances, such as diesel, pesticides, fertilisers and cleaning solutions.
WorkSafe chief inspector Darren Handforth says farmers often underestimate the risks of using sprays and fertilisers.
“Exposure to agrichemicals is a major contributor to deaths from work-related health risks in the agricultural sector. Harm from these substances can take 25 to 30 years to show.”
Many existing requirements will continue under the new regulations. But key changes will help ensure farmers protect people from harm.
The starting point for all farmers is to identify and assess the risks. Make a list of the hazardous substances on your farm, the quantities and where they are stored. Then read the safety data sheets to understand the risks they pose, how to use and store them safely and what to do if there is a spill or you are exposed to them.
“From December 1 it will be mandatory to keep both an inventory of your hazardous substances and their safety data sheets, so if you haven’t already got this in place, you should act now,” Mr Handforth says.
The simplest way to prepare an inventory is to use WorkSafe’s Hazardous Substances Calculator. It will provide clear guidance about what you need to do to be compliant.
A big area for improvement is storage, Mr Handforth says
“WorkSafe inspectors still find stocks of hazardous substances dating back decades in farm sheds. This presents an unnecessary risk, given the options for disposing of old agricultural chemicals.
“The best method at present is offered through AgRecovery, a charitable trust set up to dispose of unwanted chemicals and their containers. You can book a chemical collection online, and this is free or subsidised depending on the chemical. AgRecovery also provides collection sites around New Zealand for containers.”
Keeping the amount you hold to a minimum can save money and time. Quantities above certain limits may trigger additional requirements such as location compliance certificates.
Keeping others safe
Workers need to be informed of the risks and have the training, supervision and equipment to do their work safely.
“For example, if you send someone out to spray diazinon, you need to make them aware of the health risks of exposure as well as providing the necessary personal protective equipment,” Mr Handforth says.
Some substances may need to be secured, and handled only by people with the appropriate training, or certified handlers under the new rules. Fewer substances will require a certified handler, as the focus is on ensuring all workers can handle hazardous substances safely.
And, as anyone can have an accident, make sure you have an emergency plan in place, including who to contact and who is responsible for what.
What to do now
Now is a great time to make sure you are complying. The WorkSafe website has information to help you understand your obligations. The new regulations are available on the New Zealand Legislation website.
Reposted from The Country 05.11.2017
Zero Harm Farm already has an effective way of managing this legal requirement: see here