Hazardous Chemicals Emergency Planning

Do you have a site with a notifiable quantity* of hazardous chemicals?

*Notifiable quantity for informing SafeWork SA

If you do, then you are required to create an Emergency Plan and submit a copy, along with a Dangerous Goods Emergency Plan Submission form, to the South Australian Fire Services.

Please email your completed plan and associated forms to samfsscientificofficer@sa.gov.au. The MFS will acknowledge receipt of all emails within two working days. If you have not received an acknowledgement within this timeframe please phone the MFS Scientific Officer on 08 8204 3600.

Note: Maximum receivable email size is 10mb. If your email is larger than this, split documents over two or more emails.


The information contained on this page applies specifically to the following types of sites:


A brief overview of the Work Health and Safety Regulations 2012 which relates specifically to Emergency Plans and information relating to emergency planning in general is outlined below:

  • Regulation 43
    • Details the duty of a person conducting a business or undertaking at a workplace to prepare, maintain and apply an emergency plan.
  • Regulation 361
    • Sites with Manifest Quantities of Hazardous Chemicals as detailed in Schedule 11 of the WHS Regs are subject to the provisions of Regulation 361 of the above regulation.
    • Regulation 361 requires a specific emergency plan to be developed for hazardous chemicals which exceed the manifest quantities detailed in Schedule 11 of the WHS Regs.
    • Regulation 361 requires a draft Emergency Plan to be submitted to the MFS/CFS and the site operator must take note of any written advice received from MFS/CFS regarding deficiencies or inclusions required in the final Emergency Plan.
  • Regulation 557
    • Major Hazard Facilities (MHFs) or provisionally registered MHFs that are registered with SafeWork SA are subject to the provisions of Regulation 557.
    • Regulation 557 requires a draft Emergency Plan to be submitted to the MFS/CFS and the site operator must ensure that the emergency plan addresses any recommendation made by the emergency service organisations consulted. The operator must test the emergency plan in accordance with recommendations made by the emergency services organisations consulted.
    • Regulation 557 requires the site operator to notify the emergency services consulted of the occurrence of an incident or event.

The above clauses need an Emergency Plan to be developed for the site. A draft Emergency Plan is required to be submitted to the MFS/CFS. The site operator must take note of any written advice received from the MFS/CFS regarding deficiencies or inclusions required in the final Emergency Plan.

For further comprehensive information on the requirements of the Work Health and Safety Regulations visit SafeWork SA.

Emergency Plan

The WHS Regulations require employers, controllers of premises, occupiers of Dangerous Goods sites and operators of MHFs to carry out a thorough risk assessment to identify, eliminate or control hazards and risks at the site.

Clauses 361 and 557 have specific requirements in relation to Hazardous Chemicals (listed in Schedule 11 of the WHS Regs) and materials used, stored or handled at MHFs (listed in Schedule 15 of the WHS Regs).

The MFS and CFS recommend that a whole of site approach to the development of a comprehensive Emergency Plan is adopted. The Emergency Plan should be developed using the site risk assessment as a basis for determining what is required for inclusion in the plan.

Developing a holistic and comprehensive Emergency Plan should help operators and license holders in meeting their compliance obligations under the above clauses.

An Emergency Plan is an informative document which acquaints facility occupants with the specific procedures to be implemented during an emergency. The Emergency Plan also outlines standard operational guidelines for use by facility emergency controllers and other personnel who may required to fulfil a key functional role during the various stages of an emergency.

MFS and CFS recommend that staff are provided with regular training in implementing the procedures contained in the emergency plan. Local emergency services should also be invited to participate in emergency exercises.

An emergency plan will also contain critical information which can help emergency services personnel formulate appropriate incident management strategies and tactics when attending an emergency involving your facility.

The emergency plan is a critical component in implementing appropriate emergency management strategies, so it is important that the plan is logical, comprehensive, easy to read and use.

The development of an Emergency Plan will help in ensuring that the effects of any incident are minimised. The consequences arising from an incident involving a facilities hazards and risks must also be appropriately addressed by the plan.

The level of detail in an Emergency Plan will depend on the complexity of the activities at the workplace involved, and how much and what type of hazardous materials are stored or used at the site.

Typical emergencies can include:

  • fire
  • security - including armed intruder
  • medical
  • electrical or power outage
  • mechanical or process failure
  • natural events - such as storms or flooding
  • hazardous materials releases

The development of an Emergency Plan by persons not familiar with risk assessment, hazardous chemical hazards, associated consequences and emergency planning in general may result in the implementation of a deficient Emergency Plan. Shortcomings in Emergency Plans may not become apparent until an emergency incident occurs.

If you are unfamiliar with the process of assessing hazardous chemical hazards and risks, or not sure that you will be able to develop a comprehensive document, the MFS and CFS recommend that you engage the services of a qualified hazardous chemical consultant who will be able to help you in the development of a comprehensive and functional Emergency Plan. The MFS and CFS cannot recommend a consultant, it is important to ensure that any consultant used understands your business and requirements when writing an emergency plan that is appropriate for your workplace.

The MFS and CFS websites contains a guideline and other information to help you in developing an Emergency Plan, it is stressed that the obligation for the identification of hazards and the development of a comprehensive Emergency Plan is the responsibility of the site operator.

To help operators and license holders in developing a comprehensive emergency plan, the MFS and CFS have also developed a general emergency plan guideline (Emergency Plans at Facilities having Notifiable Quantities of Hazardous Chemicals and Major Hazard Facilities, Special Operations Department Guideline No. 001) which should be referred to when developing your sites Emergency Plan.

Emergency Service Information Package (ESIP)

The ESIP is a separate document that has information that is relevant to first arrival crews to help commence initial combat operations. The ESIP must have all pages laminated so it is durable in a harsh environment and it must be located with your emergency plan, accessible to emergency services 24/7.

It must include:

  • Business address
  • Emergency Contacts
  • Manifest – an example template of a manifest can be seen here
  • Site Plan
  • More information is available in the MFS Guideline.

What will the MFS/CFS do when they receive your Emergency Plan?

The MFS/CFS can provide a written recommendation about the content or effectiveness of the emergency plan. If the MFS/CFS does give written recommendation, the person must revise the plan in accordance with the recommendation (WHS Clause 361 (3)). Major Hazard Facilities have other obligations as outlined in the WHS Regs.

Upon receipt of the emergency plan, you will receive an email acknowledging submission of the plan. If submission occurred via email, you should receive an acknowledgement email within 2 working days. If submission occurred via post, an acknowledgement email should be received within 21 days. Contact the MFS Scientific Officer on 08 8204 3600 if you do not receive this acknowledgement.

MFS/CFS will process your draft emergency plan and based on the result, the emergency plan may be reviewed.

Emergency Plans not undertaking immediate review will be provided to the relevant local MFS/CFS area so it can be incorporated into their local preparedness activities. This may include visiting the workplace.

After the review has been completed, a written recommendation will be provided to the workplace and a copy of the recommendation will also be provided to SafeWork SA (the regulator).

View the flow chart which details how your draft Emergency Plan is processed by the MFS/CFS.

Is there a requirement to test or exercise the emergency plan with the emergency services?

Yes there is. The emergency plan should be tested when first devised and after each modification.

Throughout the year, at suitable intervals, practice drills and simulated emergencies should be undertaken and involve all workers and the emergency services. These drills should be focused on familiarising anyone who would be involved in an incident related to the storage and handling of hazardous chemicals with the workplace procedures.

SA Fire Services must be invited to all practice drills and simulated emergencies through samfsscientificofficer@sa.gov.au. This is irrespective of where the business is located in the state, and invitations must not go direct to the local MFS/CFS station.

Do I need to store the manifest so it is accessible to emergency services?

Yes, there is a requirement in the WHS Regs Section 347 (3) for the person (as defined in the Act) to keep the manifest:

  • in a place determined in agreement with the primary emergency service
  • available for inspection under the Act; and
  • readily accessible to the emergency services organisation.

MFS Image - Emergency Information BoxA copy of the emergency plan and ESIP (Emergency Services Information Package) is to be provided and kept easily accessible to the SA Fire Services at all times. The following are acceptable locations for the manifest:

  • at the hydrant booster assembly, if fitted
  • at the main site entrance adjacent to the outer warning placard
  • inside the security gatehouse or similar if staffed 24 hours/7 days
  • at alternative vehicular entrances adjacent to the outer warning placard (where provided).

The plans should be provided within a prominently labelled weather proofed container (e.g. a lock box), secured with a 003 lock if unauthorised access needs to be prevented.

The container should be readily identifiable and prominently labelled. The SA Fire Services prefer the container to be coloured red with white "Emergency Information" and "HAZMAT" lettering, minimum 40mm height, across the front of the container.

A full copy of the above documentation (emergency plan, ESIP, manifest, hazardous chemicals register and SDS) should be provided in any dedicated Emergency/Fire Control Centre. At larger sites the MFS and CFS recommend that, as a minimum, a copy of the ESIP is provided at appropriate locations throughout the site (within process control rooms or adjacent to locations where placards are required by the WHS Regs).

Note: At sites where there may be security concerns regarding the provision of plans in a locked container on site (e.g. schools), application can be made for alternative locations or means to provide responding emergency services with copies.

If there are compelling reasons to consider storing the manifest in another location, please email samfsscientificofficer@sa.gov.au to discuss the best position for its location.

Emergency Plan Further Information