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Safeguard OSH Solutions - Thomson Reuters

Safeguard OSH Solutions - Thomson Reuters

Alert24 - Safeguard Update

Omissions and duplications

Omissions and duplications
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New Zealand

When is phenol not covered by the HSNO Act? The answer is, when it's manufactured by a pharmaceutical company, delegates at last month's Conferenz Safety 360 event in Auckland were told.

Counties Manukau DHB's hazardous substances and compliance advisor Andrew Nelson, and long-serving Growsafe trainer Brian Calcinai, explained how inconsistencies in the HSNO legislation have complicated the management of the hazardous substances they deal with.

In healthcare, Nelson said, all medicines are exempt from the act. However products such as phenol, which have both medical and non-medical uses, have very different labelling and handling requirements, depending on whether they are manufactured by a pharmaceutical company.

"Alcohol hand gels, which are widely used in hospitals, are also deemed to be medicines in that situation and thus don't require HSNO labelling," he said. "However some manufacturers sell to the public as well, so they have to try to cross the HSNO boundary and cover all bases."

In contrast, the bone cements used in orthopaedics are not deemed medicines, even though they are placed inside patients, he said. "They are considered medical devices rather than medicines, and therefore are covered by the HSNO legislation. These variations make things very complicated, and are quite a significant problem in healthcare."

Calcinai said HSNO has created different problems for the agricultural sector, by requiring those using chemicals to become approved handlers, even though the industry has had its own widely recognised hazardous substances training programme since the 1990s.

Growsafe courses, introduced ten years before the HSNO regulations, are a national certification programme teaching the safe use of agricultural chemicals. The industry initially challenged the requirement for farmers and horticulturists to also complete approved handler training, arguing that the existing programme could easily be amended to cover the same ground.

"Despite the debate, the requirement for approved handler certification came in in 2005," Calcinai said. "Fortunately it was decided that one course - Growsafe - could cover the two certifications."

The downside was that a course which had been very practical became law-oriented with no practical work at all. Nor did it resolve the industry's problems, as farmers and growers who sell for export must also achieve Good Agriculture Practices (GAP) certification. This is an internationally recognised standard, and although different sectors within the industry have different conditions to meet, all require Growsafe certification as proof of safe chemical use rather than approved handler status.

"The issue here is that for most exporting countries GAP requirements are determined by the market," Calcinai said. "The market knows about Growsafe, but none of them know about approved handlers."

He said New Zealand needs one clearly understood training programme for agricultural chemicals and the HSNO regime is not the best fit.

"Growsafe is what is known and referred to, both within New Zealand and overseas, and it meets all the GAP requirements. There should be no need for approved handlers in agriculture."

People Mentioned:
Andrew Nelson; Brian Calcinai
Organisations Mentioned:
Counties Manukau DHB; Growsafe
Reference No:

From Alert24 - Safeguard Update

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