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. Major hazard facilities are sites storing or processing large quantities of dangerous goods including petroleum products and chemicals (as per Schedule 9 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 approximately 45 sites designated as being "Major Hazard Facilities". The current list of MHFs can be checked by going to the WorkSafe topic page.
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 9 materials at more than 10% of their threshold quantity; and
- provide the information required for notification (the Authority will then determine whether the facility is a MHF and whether it will need to be licensed or registered) ; and
- establish a Safety Management System (see explanatory document) for their facility and also prepare a 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; and
- identify major incidents and major incident hazards and then conduct a Safety Assessment; and
- adopt control measures to eliminate or reduce these risks to acceptable levels; and
- develop an emergency plan which must be tested, put into action in the event of a major incident and reviewed; 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
- consult with the employees and their health and safety representatives, and provide specific information, instruction and training and keep records of training; and
- provide information and instruction to non-employees; and
- provide information to the local community; and
- consult with the local community and 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; 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; and
- comply with controls under the Dangerous Goods Act 1985 regarding Schedule 9 materials and the protection of property.
Reference - Divisions 3, 4, 5, 7, 8, 9 and 10 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.
Reference - Division 6 of Chapter 5.2 (MHF) of the Regulations
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 - 5.2.23
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 9 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 - 5.2.24
Schedules for this chapter:
- Schedule 9 - Materials at Major Hazard Facilities (and their threshold quantity)
- Schedule 10 - Additional matters to be included in Safety Management System
- Schedule 11 - Matters to be included in Emergency Plan
- Schedule 12 - Additional matters to be included in 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 June 2015