Laws governing the control and operations of Victoria's major hazards sites were first introduced in 2000, after the 1998 explosion at Esso's Longford Gas Plant when two workers were killed. Major hazard facilities are sites storing or processing large quantities of dangerous goods including petroleum products and chemicals (as per Schedule 14 of the regs).
The Regulations lay down specific obligations on the operators and employees of major hazard facilities. The major requirement is that operators must apply for a licence to operate the facility. An application must be accompanied by a Safety Management System that sets out the site's safety management system, on and off site emergency plans, and illustrates to the satisfaction of the Authority, the employees and the local community that there are adequate measures in place to prevent a major incident.
Victoria has between 35 and 45 sites designated as being "Major Hazard Facilities" at any one time. The current list of MHFs can be checked by going to this page on the WorkSafe website. WorkSafe also has a topic page on Major Hazard Facilities, with guidance materials. However it notes that as at mid September 2017, the guidance had not yet been amended to ensure it was consistent with the 2017 regulations.
The summary below sets out basic information only. If you work at or live near a major hazard facility, then do not rely on the information provided here: you will need to refer to the regulations directly. The full text of the regulations can be viewed and downloaded from the Victorian Legislation and Parliamentary Documents website - click on Victorian Law Today, then on Statutory Rules, and then on "O" to find the Occupational Health and Safety Regulations.
1 - Operators (or those who intend to operate) an MHF
A major hazard facility (MHF) must be either registered or licensed to legally operate in Victoria. Operators must:
- notify the Authority if the facility has, or is likely to have, Schedule 14 materials at more than 10 per cent of their threshold quantity within 30 days after becoming aware/ought to have become aware of this; and
- provide the information required for notification as per Schedule 18 (the Authority will then determine whether the facility is a MHF and whether it will need to be licensed or registered); and
- prepare and provide to the Authority within 90 days an outline for the Safety Case to demonstrate the adequacy of the safety management system and the control measures in preventing major incidents and provide this to the Authority (Schedules 15 and 17 set out the matters which need to be included). Division 8 specifically addresses the Safety Case, which must also be provided to the Authority, in more detail; and
- If the MHF is in close proximity to another MHF or have linked operations, WorkSafe may require the operator to coordinate the safety case development with the other MHF's safety case/s.
- identify major incidents and major incident hazards and then conduct a Safety Assessment; and
- adopt control measures to eliminate so far as reasonably practicable, or reduce these risks as far as reasonably practicable; and
- establish, implement and review a Safety Management System for their facility, and keep it available; and
- develop an Emergency plan which must be prepared in conjunction with the emergency services and local municipal councils; tested, put into action in the event of a major incident and reviewed (Schedule 16 sets out the matters to included); and
- keep a copy of the plan on site, and send a copy to to those emergency services and municipal councils involved in its preparation; and
- develop a safety role for employees (including specific procedures which must be followed to assist the operator to identify major hazard incidents, conduct or review a Safety Assessment and risk control measures, and establish and implement a Safety Management System); and
- in relation to materials in Schedule 14 that are also dangerous goods, comply with controls under the Dangerous Goods Act 1985to eliminate/reduce risks for the protection of property.; and
- consult with the employees and their health and safety representatives, and provide specific information, instruction and training and keep records of training; and
- if an employee gives information to an operator under 'duties of employees', the operator must inform the employee of any investigative or other action taken in response to the information; and
- provide information and instruction to non-employees who enter the facility; and
- provide information to the local community (as listed in reg 395 - this includes a summary of the Safety Case); and
- consult with the municipal councils when developing or revising the Safety Case on certain matters that could affect the health and safety of the community in the event of a major incident occurring.
Reference - Divisions 2, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 and 9 of Chapter 5.2 (MHF) of the Regulations2 - Employees
Employees at a major hazard facility must:
- follow the operator's procedures relating to the prevention and control of major incidents and emergency procedures;
- immediately inform the operator of any circumstances they consider may be capable of leading to a major incident;
- without placing any other person at risk, take corrective action under those prevention and control and emergency procedures, even if the corrective action could interrupt the operation of the facility. In the case of any corrective action taken, inform the supervisor.
Reference - Division 10 of Chapter 5.2 (MHF) of the Regulations
The Authority may require information
The Authority may by written notice require the operator to provide any information - the operator must comply. Reference: Division 2
If you are a Visitor
The operator should provide visitors to an MHF with induction information about the hazards at the MHF, brief them on relevant safety precautions to take during their visit, as well as what to do in an emergency. Reference reg 393
Members of the local community
Residents, workers, business operators or other people involved in the local community can access information about an MHF from the municipal Council, any community library in the area or directly from the MHF, the operator of which must provide this information.
The sort of information available includes:
- A summary of the safety case & a copy of the licence (including terms and conditions)
- The name and location of the MHF
- The name, position and telephone number of a contact person from whom more information can be obtained
- A general description of the operations at the MHF, including a description of the Schedule 14 materials present or likely to be present
- A general description of major incident hazards at the facility, of the potential magnitude of major incidents that could occur at the MHF and of the severity of the consequences to health and safety if such incidents were to occur
- How the local community will be notified should a major incident occur, and what actions the local community should take in the event of a major incident (in accordance with the emergency plan).
Reference - reg 394 - 395
Schedules for this chapter:
- Schedule 14 - Materials at Major Hazard Facilities and their threshold quantities
- Schedule 15 - Additional matters to be included in major hazard facility safety management system
- Schedule 16 - Matters to be included in in major hazard facility emergency plan
- Schedule 17 - Additional matters to be included in in major hazard facility safety case
- The full text of the regulations can be viewed and downloaded from the Victorian Legislation and Parliamentary Documents website - click on Victorian Law Today, then on Statutory Rules, and then on "O" to find the Occupational Health and Safety Regulations.
- WorkSafe has produced a Guide to Major Hazard Facilities [pdf]. Also go to WorkSafe topic page on Major Hazard Facilities
Last amended September 2017