Safety, Health and Injury Management and Wellbeing

Chemical risk assessment

Our role is to develop and assist in the implementation of the UWA safety, health and wellbeing programs in order to minimise the risk of injury, illness and property damage.

We provide consultancy and other services to promote best practice and legislative compliance in all University and related activities.

Further information

Chem Alert

During the planning of any procedure involving chemicals and prior to purchase, potential hazards must be identified and the risks assessed.

This ensures that all staff, students and visitors are aware of potential hazards, and that appropriate handling techniques and control requirements are in place to minimise risk to personnel and University property.

  1. Legislative requirements
  2. Responsibility for chemical risk assessment
  3. Chemical risk assessment procedure

Legislative requirements

Regulations 5.15 - 5.18 of the OSH Regulations 1996 specify the legal requirements for conducting and documenting risk assessments for hazardous substances. They require the assessment of the risk of injury or harm to a person as a result of exposure to hazardous substances, including:

  • identification of each hazardous substance used
  • review of the Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) for each hazardous substance
  • identification of the likelihood of injury as a result of exposure.

Assessments must be repeated if:

  • there is a change in the risk of injury or harm
  • the risk assessment is five years old
  • improved controls become available.

Assessments must be available at all times.

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Responsibility for chemical risk assessment

Supervisors (e.g. research supervisors and laboratory supervisors) are responsible for ensuring risk assessments are conducted in the workplaces under their control. Risk assessments can be prepared by those proposing to do the work. The workplace supervisor endorses the risk assessment to verify that it has been checked and that hazard control measures will be implemented prior to commencement of work. The supervisor is also responsible for ensuring risk assessments are stored, available and reviewed as required.

Finally, the Head of School or a person with formally delegated signatory authority must sign off the risk assessment to allow the work to commence.

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Chemical risk assessment procedure

A chemical procedure risk assessment form must be completed prior to the start of any work involving hazardous chemicals. To complete a chemical procedure risk assessment the assessor must identify:

  • all hazardous substances and dangerous goods used in the procedure
  • all hazards associated with the chemicals to be used
  • existing control measures
  • control measures required before work commences.

With this information the risk can be assessed and ranked, and the procedure can be approved if the risk is insignificant or sufficiently controlled. If the risk is significant and adequate controls are not in place the procedure can not be approved, and the work and controls need to be revised.

Conducting thorough risk assessments will ensure that:

  • personnel are aware of the risks associated with the work they are undertaking
  • appropriate controls are in place
  • personal protective equipment is adequate and available
  • waste disposal has been considered and protocols developed
  • emergency procedures are in place.


ChemAlert should be used to obtain a Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) for each hazardous or dangerous chemical.

Where a single chemical is used in accordance with the manufacturers intend use, a ChemAlert risk assessment is required.

When mixtures of chemicals are used, a Chemical Process Risk Assessment form must be completed. Please refer to UWA Safety and Health website, Task and Activity Planning page.

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