Explosions Rock Flood-Crippled Chemical Plant Near Houston: Reminder to get your head around new Hazardous Substances Regulations

This popped up on my news feed recently: Explosions Rock Flood-Crippled Chemical Plant Near HoustonIt is a timely reminder that we all need to understand the new Hazardous Substances Regulations that go live in December 2017.

What Happened?

  • Arkema Inc.  had organic peroxides stored at the plant were engulfed by floodwaters during Hurricane Harvey
  • Backup generators were knocked out which stopped necessary refrigeration to keep the compounds from degrading and catching fire.
  • All employees were evacuated before the blast, and up to 5,000 people living within 1½ miles
  • 2 tons of highly unstable chemicals exploded and burned early last Thursday
  • Plumes of acrid black smoke were released which stung bystanders eyes and lungs
  • No serious injuries to workers or members of the public
  • The “company’s plan to protect the public is being questioned”


What’s changing with the new Hazardous Substances Regulations in NZ?

Health and Safety at Work (Hazardous Substances) Regulations 2017 will come into force on 1 December 2017. There are changes to the following areas:

  1. Mandatory requirement to keep an inventory of all of your hazardous substances used, handled, manufactured or stored in the workplace, including hazardous waste.
  2. You must have a Safety Data Sheet (SDS) for all hazardous substances in your workplace.
  3. There are specific requirements around providing information, instruction, supervision and training (Approved Handlers and Approved Sites)
  4. There are specific requirements for emergency preparation.
  5. There are new requirements for making sure that hazardous substance containers in the workplace are labelled, including process vessels; as well as maintaining the labels on hazardous substances supplied to you.
  6. Signage: Signs allow people to approach the site and buildings with appropriate care.
  7. Risk assessment and elimination or minimisation: Must be completed


For more information go to WorkSafeNZ HSNO Key Requirements

What can you do?

  1. Do an audit of all hazardous substances on site and make sure you have the appropriate SDS
  2. Review signage and labeling
  3. Make sure all substances are either itemised or categorised on your risk/hazard register
  4. Check that your emergency plans are up to date
  5. Check that your worker’s training is up to date


If you have any questions about the new Hazardous Substances regulations just give me a call on 0272 007 680, or send an email to sarah@employmenow.co.nz.

Have a safe and productive week,


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