Hazardous Substances: What you need to know

Hazardous substances are chemicals or substances which can be toxic, corrosive and can cause harm. So it makes sense that we document what’s on-site and how much we have.

If you have hazardous substances on-site, there are legal requirements you need to follow to ensure they are stored, used, and disposed of correctly to reduce the risk to anyone that uses or comes into contact with them.

There are a number of chemical specific hazards that could potentially be present on a building site but these are the most likely ones that you will come across:

  • Paint
  • Solvents
  • Concrete
  • Cement
  • Glue
  • Aerosols


The Hazards 

These are some of the hazards that can occur from hazardous substances

Physical hazards 

  • Flammable gasses
  • Flammable aerosols
  • Gasses under pressure
  • Flammable liquids

Health hazards

  • Immediately toxic through the mouth, nose or skin
  • Corrosive or irritant to the skin or eyes
  • Causes respiratory or breathing concerns

Remember to check the SDS (Safety Data Sheet) for your specific chemical when addressing the hazards it might present.

What this means for you

To capture what hazardous substances you are using you must by law have a hazardous substance register along with the relevant safety data sheet (SDS).

What is a Hazardous substance register?

This is a list of all your hazardous substances (including hazardous waste) that is used, handled, or stored at any of your sites or workplaces. Having a register will ensure you know the substances you have on-site, the requirements you need-to-know, and what to do in case of an emergency.

Keeping a Hazardous substance register

Keeping your register in a central location on your site means that in case of an emergency, it can be accessed quickly by anyone who needs it. There are some key bits of information that need to be included on your hazardous substance registers. Not only do you need the information below, but you must also make sure that the register is up to date and available on-site.

  • The name of the substance
  • Issue date of the current safety data sheet
  • The maximum quantity that is stored at the workplace
  • Where it’s located
  • Specific storage requirements
  • Any hazardous waste

Because the register represents the maximum amount of the substance held, it means it’s not going to be a daily task to keep it up-to-date. But if the maximum quantity changes, the register needs to reflect this. We recommend that you review your register each time you make a change to ensure it’s up to date and accurate.

How do I create a hazardous substance register?

Creating your hazardous substance register is made much simpler with our Hazardous Substances Register, HazardCo members can access this via the HazardCo Hub in the templates section.

Safety Data Sheet (SDS)

The purpose of a safety data sheet (SDS) is to provide key information about hazardous substances to the people who handle, use or store them or who could be exposed to them.

An SDS tells you

  • The product (its name, ingredients and properties)
  • Who manufactured or imported it
  • How the product can affect your health
  • How to use and store it safely

Remember it is the business owner’s responsibility to have an up to date SDS for each hazardous substance and that their workers have access to it. You can ask your supplier for a copy of the SDS when you place an order or on the product website. The SDS should be less than 5 years old.


If you need a hand getting started or would like more information, get in touch with the friendly HazardCo team today – we’re always happy to help.