Too often at client sites, I find that the client has attached placards to storage areas for dangerous goods that are not above the threshold for placarding.
The purpose of the placard is to provide warning to emergency services as to the class/division of dangerous goods and the minimum quantity in a particular building, storage area or room. Over placarding may result in emergency services avoiding saving the building as it appears to represent too high a risk to their personnel. No one wants their class 3 and division 2.1 placarded shed or workshop left to burn because it holds a couple of aerosol cans and a 10L jerry can of two stroke fuel.
Schedule 2 of the Victorian Dangerous Goods (Storage and Handling) Regulations 2012 lists the classes or divisions of dangerous goods and the placard thresholds for these based on packing group or type of compressed gas. For example, common products such as unleaded petrol and caustic soda solutions, placard thresholds are 250L and sodium hypochlorite (10%), for kerosene, placard thresholds are 1000L, and for aerosols the placard threshold is 5000L or (800 cartons of standard aerosols). These levels are considered high risk and thus allows the emergency services to determine whether they will attempt save the structure or solely protect other assets.
The table below should be used to determine placard levels as well as manifest levels of dangerous goods. Mixed dangerous goods haven't been included, nor has the less common divisions 4.2 and 4.3 as well as division 5.2, as WorkSafe have yet to twig that organic peroxides do not have packing groups, which determine the degree of hazard.
|Class/Div||Packing Group||Placard Qty Kg or L||Manifest Qty Kg or L|
|2.2||Sub Risk 5.1||2000||10000|
Based on the logical extension for mixed dangerous goods placarding referred to in Schedule 4 - 3(a) (ii) (A), is where a site requires placarding for a class of dangerous goods, any room or storage area that has over half the placard level should have a placard corresponding to the dangerous good attached to every point of entry and not on moveable objects, such as doors.
Any bulk (>500L/kg) storage of dangerous goods must also have an Emergency Information Panel (EIP). These placards are similar to the transport EIP with the exception of the emergency contact information. Given the bulk is on the occupier's premises, the occupier has the duty to manage any dangerous goods events. They may retain the supplier's details as a reference if an incident occurs, but the supplier is not responsible for emergency responses, even if they have installed the bulk system and conduct the maintenance.
Ensuring correct placarding will not only provide warning to personnel entering the areas of the hazards, but also fully inform emergency services as to what hazards are inside storage areas and allow them to make more considered risk based decisions as to their actions.