Safe Work Australia urges caution on swimming pool chemical OHS

The following article is a news item provided for the benefit of members. Its content does not necessarily reflect the views of the Australian Institute of Health & Safety.
Thursday, 28 November, 2019 - 09:15
Policy & legislation
National News

Safe Work Australia recently released a new information sheet for storing swimming pool chemicals for small and medium businesses which do not have major chemical stores/expertise in managing the risks of chemical storage.

The resource expands on the information in Managing risks of storing chemicals in the workplace and provides information on how to manage health and safety risks associated with storing hazardous chemicals in the workplace.

Even when not in use, chemicals can still pose a risk, according to the information sheet.

Flammable and oxidising chemicals may cause or contribute to a fire, corrosive chemicals can injure people and damage property and structures they come into contact with, while toxic chemicals can poison people who are exposed to them.

Compressed gases can also suffocate or poison workers if they leak, and some chemicals are not compatible with one another.

When incompatible chemicals mix, the information sheet said they may ignite or explode; release toxic, flammable or corrosive gases, or corrode chemical containers, causing them to leak.

As such, it is important to identify which chemicals are incompatible and ensure that hazardous chemicals are stored safely in a way that minimises the chance of any incidents and reactions, and reduces the chance that stored chemicals will contribute to or worsen an incident.

The information sheet suggested managing the risks associated with storing hazardous chemicals by following a systematic process to:

  • Identify hazards – find out what could cause harm.
  • Assess risks, if necessary – understand the nature of the harm that could be caused by the hazard, how serious the harm could be and the likelihood of it happening. This step may not be necessary if you are dealing with a known risk with known controls.
  • Eliminate risks so far as is reasonably practicable.
  • Control risks – if it is not practical to eliminate the risk, implement control measures in accordance with the hierarchy of control measures (as described in section 4.1).
  • Review and maintain control measures to ensure they are working as planned.


Further guidance on the risk management process is in the Model Code of Practice: Managing risks of hazardous chemicals in the workplace.