The purpose of this safety alert is to remind people of the need to correctly store and use hazardous chemicals in the workplace.


Recently, two incidents occurred in Sydney in the space of one week, where kitchen workers suffered serious burns after methylated spirits was mistakenly used near a heat source or flame. In both incidents workers unwittingly used containers thought to contain a different cleaning agent.

Action required

Work health and safety laws require PCBUs to eliminate risks from the use of hazardous chemicals or, where this is not possible, to control those risks as far as reasonably practicable.

Risk controls

Where possible, use non-flammable water-based chemicals for cleaning.

  • Always follow instructions for safe use and handling found in safety data sheets that should be obtained from the chemical supplier. Information should also be available on the chemical container’s label.
  • Provide information, instruction, training and supervision to workers on the safe use of hazardous chemicals in the workplace.
  • Store and use flammable chemicals away from ignition sources such as heat and flames.
  • When using flammable chemicals, make sure you have an appropriate fire extinguisher and fire blanket at the ready and make sure staff know how to use them.
  • Always store chemicals in their original container and, if the chemical is poured into another container (such as a spray bottle), make sure that the container is compatible with the chemical and that it is also clearly labelled.
  • Do not use food containers to hold hazardous chemicals.

Further information contact us on 13 10 50.

Download a PDF version of this safety alert.

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