Kevin Minson

Kevin Minson


    Review results in new procedures for packaging and labelling dangerous goods

    14/06/1996 12:00 AM



    A review of packaging and labelling standards of dangerous goods has resulted in new procedures to encourage industry accountability, Mines Minister Kevin Minson said today.


    Mr Minson said the review took more than a year to complete and represented a big step forward in persuading industry to become more responsible about the need to conform to packaging and labelling regulations.


    "The study was carried out by the Explosives and Dangerous Goods division of the Department of Minerals and Energy and is the most comprehensive of its kind in Australia," he said.


    "Although 80 per cent of the packages fully complied with regulations regarding packaging standards, only 26 per cent of those surveyed complied with labelling standards."


    Surveyed companies represented areas like the oil industry, agriculture, transport, chemical suppliers and chemical formulators and packers, which handled items such as flammable products, corrosives, aerosols, gas in cylinders and toxic materials including pesticides.


    Mr Minson said it was critically important these products were properly packaged and labelled.


    "Indecipherable letters and numbers on labels do not pose a threat to public safety on their own but can contribute to confusion if a potentially dangerous situation was to occur," he said.


    "Take the case, for example, of a drum of chemicals rolling off the back of a truck.


    "Emergency services groups need to know what type of chemical they are dealing with, how to deal with it and who needs to be contacted for technical advice.


    "Without this information their job is impossible and becomes potentially dangerous."


    The project examined 413 packages from 117 different companies. It assessed the levels of compliance of industry regarding consignment procedures and the labelling and packaging requirements within the Australian Code for the Transport of Dangerous Goods by Road and Rail.


    "Previously, checks on consignment procedures had generally been in response to concerns raised by the public or requests from companies for their procedures to be reviewed by the department," Mr Minson said.


    "Visits were conducted to check package compliance in the past, but only on an ad-hoc basis."


    Companies are now being asked to audit their own packaging and find solutions to any problems found. Regular reports will need to be made to the Department of Minerals and Energy.


    "While the majority of breaches found by the audit were minor, the department contacted the relevant companies to ensure the problems were rectified and that procedures were put in place so they did not recur," Mr Minson said.


    "A follow-up audit will be conducted soon and companies could face sterner action if previous problems recurred."


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