On 18 June 2021, a company that owns and operates petrol stations was sentenced in the Toogoolawah Magistrates Court for failing to prepare or keep a hazardous chemical register for hazardous chemicals used, stored or kept at the workplace, contrary to section 346(1) of the Work Health and Safety Regulation 2011 (‘the Regulation’). Magistrate Sinclair imposed a fine of $1,000.
The defendant company owns and operates a petrol station located in Esk. On 27 November 2019, Workplace Health and Safety Queensland (‘WHSQ’) Inspectors attended the workplace to conduct an inspection in response to a complaint. An audit by the WHSQ Inspectors found that although the business kept a hazardous chemicals manifest at the workplace, it did not have a register for the hazardous chemicals kept, stored or used at the workplace. An infringement notice was issued to the defendant, which subsequently elected to contest the matter in Court.
Workplace Health and Safety Queensland’s “Managing risks of hazardous chemicals in the Workplace: Code of Practice 2021” indicates that a hazardous chemical register is a list of all the hazardous chemicals used, handled or stored at the workplace and is readily accessible to anyone who is likely to be affected by a hazardous chemical at the workplace. A hazardous chemical manifest is different in that it is only required where those chemicals exceed prescribed threshold amounts to assist emergency services authorities, such as Queensland Fire and Emergency Services, in the event of a fire.
In sentencing, Magistrate Sinclair took into account the defendant’s early guilty plea, which was entered on the first court appearance of the matter, and noted that the defendant was a relatively small corporate entity with no history of similar offending. His Honour also accepted that the defendant had acted quickly to produce a hazardous chemical register in response to intervention from WHSQ. The Court also took into account the fact the defendant had available a hazardous chemicals manifest, including safety data sheets for the hazardous chemicals stored in bulk at the workplace. The Magistrate exercised his discretion not to record a conviction.
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Section 346(1) of the Work Health and Safety Regulation 2011