Tracking hazardous substances

Some substances are so hazardous they must be tracked at all times. This means a record of what happens to them must be kept, from the date of their manufacture or importation into New Zealand, through to their end use or disposal.

Tracking highly hazardous substances helps ensure:

  • that at all times, they are either under the control of a person with the appropriate training (a ‘competent person’); or are appropriately secured.
  • the location of the substance is known throughout its lifespan in New Zealand, including disposal, and a record of this is kept.

What substances need to be tracked?

Tracking is required for the most hazardous of substances, such as explosive, highly flammable and oxidising substances, and some poisons. Embalming substances used in funeral homes, cyanide used in the metal industry and 1080 are some examples. The hazardous substances calculator(external link) will help you work out if any of your hazardous substances require tracking.

When does tracking start?

If the substance is manufactured in New Zealand, tracking starts at the premises where it was manufactured. If imported, tracking begins at the port where the substance enters the country. You are responsible for keeping tracking records from the time it comes into your possession.

Who is responsible for tracking?

The business or undertaking with management or control of a workplace where the tracked substance is present is responsible for keeping a record of it. This needs to include any transfer or disposal of it.

What information is required when transferring a tracked substance?

The Hazardous Substances Regulations prescribe rules that apply to the transfer of tracked substances. A PCBU with management or control of a workplace (‘PCBU A’) may only transfer a tracked substance to a PCBU with management or control of another workplace (‘PCBU B’). The rules include a requirement for written notification to be received by PCBU A before the substance is transferred.

The written notification must:

  • confirm that   there is a competent person at the PCBU’s workplace available to receive, and who will accept responsibility for, the tracked substance
  • confirm that the PCBU’s workplace has a hazardous substances location compliance certificate if required by Part 9, 10, 12 or 13 of the regulations. 
  • If the goods are to be held in transit, confirm that:
    • Any place where the goods are to be held in transit  complies with Part 5 requirements; and
    • To the extent relevant, they meet the requirements for a transit depot specified in Part 10, 12 or 13.

To ensure these requirements are met, the written notification also needs to:

  • identify PCBU B, including the PCBU’s legal and business name and street address
  • identify the competent person and, if the PCBU is an organisation, their position in the organisation
  • confirm, on the PCBU’s letterhead, that the competent person either:
    • has a certified handler certificate; or
    • has received sufficient information, training, and instruction under regulation 4.5
  • identify the person giving the notification and their position (if the PCBU is an organisation, this should be done by the supervisor or manager of the competent person)
  • be signed and dated by the person giving the notification  
  • be accompanied by:
    • a copy of the certified handler certificate or training record (as applicable)
    • a copy of the hazardous substance location compliance certificate (if applicable)

What information is needed on a tracking record?

The PCBU of any place where a tracked substance is present must keep a record of the tracked substance. The record must contain:

  • The name, position and contact details of the competent person in control of the substance, including their physical workplace address.
  • If the competent person is a certified handler  the expiry date of the compliance certificate, along with the hazard classifications of, and each phase of the lifecycle of, the substances that person holds a compliance certificate for as a certified handler.
  • The name and quantity of the substance.
  • The exact location of the substance, and a record of it that an inspector can find in the required time.
  • Details of any transfer of it to another place, including the name of the substance, date of transfer and the identity and address of the PCBU it is being transferred to,
  • Details of the disposal of the substance. Disposal information must include how much of it was disposed of, and how, when and where it was disposed.
  • The unique identifiers for the containers with VTAs containing certain active ingredients.

Records must be kept for 3 years after disposal of the tracked substance; or for 12 months after they are transferred.

What is a competent person?

If a substance requires tracking, a competent person needs to take responsibility for it from the time you receive it to the time it is transferred or disposed of.  

A ‘competent person’ is either a certified handler or someone who has received the information, instruction and training required to work with the substance.

Who needs access to tracking records?

You need to make tracking records readily accessible to any worker and readily understandable by any competent person who handles the substance. This means they know where to find the record, can access it and that it uses commonly understood terminology.

A tracking record must enable an inspector to identify the location of a substance on a tracking record within two minutes, and then find the substance itself at that location within an hour (or the time specified on the emergency response plan, whichever is shorter).

What if the substance is moved elsewhere?

If you transfer the substance to another workplace, you must ensure that details of the transfer (name of the substance, identity and address of the PCBU with management or control of the workplace to which it is transferred, and the date of transfer) are recorded and obtain written confirmation that a competent person at the destination will accept responsibility for it. The record should include the competent person’s details and must include the ‘unique identifier’ on the substance’s container if it is a vertebrate toxic agent.

What is a unique identifier?

Vertebrate Toxic Agents (VTAs) are required to be kept in a container labelled with a special serial number (unique identifier).

What if I dispose of it?

If you dispose of a substance or it has undergone treatment that results in it no longer being a tracked substance, you must record the details of how it was disposed of, as well as where, when and how much of it was disposed of. A record of this information must be kept for three years.

How long do I need to keep this record?

Tracking records must be kept for 12 months after the substance is transferred elsewhere, or for three years if the substance has been disposed of or treated to the point it is no longer a tracked substance.

Find out more

The hazardous substances calculator(external link)

Your practical guide to working with hazardous substances(external link)

New rules for hazardous substances: Changes to the regulations for hazardous substances in the workplace (PDF 316 KB)

Changes to hazardous substances regulations (PDF 71 KB)