02 Mar Chemical Use Training
Agricultural and veterinary chemical products must be used responsibly and safely.
In general, chemical users in all jurisdictions must:
- use registered agricultural and veterinary chemical products
- follow instructions on the product label.
In addition there are specific requirements of multiple jurisdictions in individual states for producers and / or contractors using agri-chemicals – in particular herbicides and Schedule 7 Poisons:
The following clarifying comments are from state Department of Agriculture, WorkSafe, Health and EPA authorities in regard to formal chemical training requirements for owner operated farms:
The Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority (DAF) jurisdiction covers registrations and permits for use of all agri-chemicals in Australia (chemical use training is a state responsibility)
NSW: (EPA) Training for commercial use of pesticides
From 1 September 2003 the rules under the Pesticides Act 1999 and the Pesticides Regulation 1995, made training compulsory for commercial users of pesticides and herbicides. This legislation is administered by the Environment Protection Authority (EPA).
If you are a farmer, market gardener, flower grower, ground rig operator, parkland or green keeper, landscape gardener, nursery operator, marina operator, wood preservation operator, landlord, or use pesticides on behalf of a local council or government agency you must be trained in pesticide use and must be reaccredited every five years by completing a short refresher course.
This includes anyone who uses any type of pesticides, including herbicides, insecticides, fungicides, bactericides, baits, lures and rodenticides (rat poison) in their work.
For more information please contact the EPA on telephone: 13 15 55.
(SafeWork NSW): There is NO specific requirements for chemicals used in farm. Any hazardous chemicals in farm should be managed like any other hazardous chemicals in a workplace in accordance to Work Health and Safety Act 2011 and the Work Health and Safety Regulations 2017.
Some of the NSW Codes of Practice which you may find of use:
- Managing risks of hazardous chemicals in the workplace @ https://www.safeworkaustralia.gov.au/doc/model-code-practice-managing-risks-hazardous-chemicals-workplace
- Managing risks of storing chemicals in the workplace@ https://www.safeworkaustralia.gov.au/doc/managing-risks-storing-chemicals-workplace
- Classifying hazardous chemicals – national guide @ https://www.safeworkaustralia.gov.au/doc/classifying-hazardous-chemicals-national-guide
QLD (WH&SQ): The short answer to your query below is that the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 and the Work Health and Safety Regulations 2011 DOES NOT require a farmer by law to have ChemCert® training in order to use, handle or store hazardous chemicals at their workplaces (farms).
Any industry approved training with regard to the use, handling and storage of hazardous substances such as ChemCert® is best practice and a farmer educated in the risks posed regarding the use, handling and storage of hazardous chemicals is advantageous to that farmer in meeting their health and safety obligations on the farm; however this is NOT a mandated requirement under WHS laws.
Sections 17, 18 and 19 of the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 work together in conjunction with section 36 Work Health and Safety Regulations 2011 to ensure a farmer (a person conducting a business or undertaking) is doing everything practicable to ensure the health and safety of a worker. This may mean training such as Chemcert, but this is only one method to ensure health and safety.
The Department of Environment and Science (DES) has no specific licensing requirements for farmers using agricultural chemicals. Under s 319 of the Environmental Protection Act (EP Act) there is however a requirement to comply with the General Environmental Duty. There is also a potential offence for releasing chemicals to water under s440ZG of the EP Act.
Generally, QLD farmers spraying herbicides on properties they own or owned by a close relative do not require an agricultural chemical licence administered by The Department of Agriculture and Fisheries (DAF-QLD) and are not required to undertake training for this licence. Under the Agricultural Chemicals Distribution Control Act 1966, if you intend to use ground equipment to distribute herbicides on land that you or a close relative DO NOT own or occupy, you may need a commercial operator’s licence. This information is provided on the below website: https://www.business.qld.gov.au/industries/farms-fishing-forestry/agriculture/land-management/chemical-controls/commercial-operators/need-to-know
Finally, Queensland Health also has rules for farmers spraying poisons – ref: https://www.health.qld.gov.au/public-health/industry-environment/pest-management
SA: (SafeWork SA) Farms are considered workplaces, so any requirements under work health and safety legislation must also be adhered to, which means ‘appropriate’ training needs to be provided to workers in the use of these chemicals – even if it is the farm owner/operator who is the ‘worker’.
The licences to obtain Schedule 7 poisons in South Australia is managed through SA Health:
WA (DMIRS): The relevant legislation is the Occupational Safety and Health Act 1984 and Occupational Safety and Health Regulations 1996.
At this time we are still working towards adopting the (nationally harmonised) Model Work Health and Safety. It is anticipated this will occur over the next few years.
There are no requirements under the Act or Regulations for farmers / growers to have a ChemCert qualification in order to legally purchase and use herbicides, insecticides, fungicides, on their own properties.
The use of Schedule 7 products is regulated by the Pesticide Safety section at the (WA) Department of Health: https://ww2.health.wa.gov.au/Articles/F_I/Frequently-Asked-Questions-Pesticides
In relation to general chemical training requirements, most agricultural chemicals are classified as ‘hazardous substances’. Training requirements for hazardous substances are specified in Regulation 5.21. This imposes a general requirement to provide information and training.
As you will see it does not specify any particular course or qualification. The training can be conducted by the employer.
In relation to self-employed persons with no employees, we would expect the workplace to have a copy of the Material Safety Data Sheet or Safety Data Sheet for the product they are using, and have conducted a risk assessment prior to using the chemical. This should include a review of the MSDS / SDS and consideration of whether they are using the product in accordance with the recommendations in the MSDS/SDS. There is no requirement under WA OSH legislation for a self employed primary producer to hold a ChemCert qualification.
VIC (Dept health): Legislation relating to chemical storage and use in Victoria is covered in the Dangerous Goods legislation (specifically the Dangerous Goods (Storage and Handling) Regulations 2012) and the Occupational Health and Safety legislation (specifically the OHS Regulations on Hazardous Substances). There are requirements which include the employer’s responsibility to store and use chemicals safely and to ensure that users of chemicals are trained and provided with information and personal protection. Whilst WorkSafe require users to be trained, the legislation does not specifically list required qualifications or training competencies. In Victoria the EPA have coverage waste including disposal of chemicals and contamination.
TAS: (Biosecurity Tasmania) In general, there is no requirement under the Agricultural and Veterinary Chemicals (Control of Use) legislation to hold a ChemCert certificate for farmer/growers to purchase and use pesticides in Tasmania. However, certain chemicals are classed as restricted chemical products and include all Schedule 7 poisons with the signal heading ‘Dangerous Poison’ on the label. There are restriction placed on supply and use of these products depending on the nature of the restricted chemical. All restricted chemical users require a permit issued by the Registrar of Chemical Products and also require specific training which may be a ChemCert certificate or other types of training depending on the product to be used. Further information on restricted chemical products can be found at: https://dpipwe.tas.gov.au/agriculture/agvet-chemicals/prohibited-and-restricted-agricultural-chemical-products
It should be noted that if you are providing a service for fee or reward then additional qualifications are required. Details of licence requirements for commercial operators and their employees can be found at: https://dpipwe.tas.gov.au/agriculture/agvet-chemicals/licences-and-certificates
There are specific legislated requirements when using pesticides in Tasmania under the Agricultural and Veterinary Chemicals (Control of Use) Act 1995 and the Agricultural and Veterinary Chemicals (Control of Use) regulations 2012, together with Orders by the minister. All can be found at the Tasmanian Legislation website at: https://www.legislation.tas.gov.au/browse/inforce
The link below takes you to our website which provides additional information relating to the use of agricultural chemicals in Tasmania. You should note in particular, the requirements under the Codes of Practice for Ground Spraying and Aerial Spraying.
Many QA programs do require a ChemCert certificate to use chemicals in the production of crops under the particular QA program.
In summary other than in NSW, farmers and their staff are not legally required to have ChemCert® or equivalent formal training, however OliveCare® strongly recommends all olive growers and their workers undertake formal training – at least the “prepare and apply chemicals” competencies.
After all if something does go wrong and you end up in court you may be required to convince the court that the chemical user was appropriately trained.
ChemCert® training details: https://www.chemcert.com.au/
Ref: Agricultural chemical users’ manual: Guidelines and principles for responsible agricultural chemical use (QLD Government): https://www.daf.qld.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0009/54738/agricultural-chemical-users-manual.pdf