Explosives information bulletin no. 41 | 02 November 2020 | Version 6
Persons’ appropriateness for access to explosives
References and further information
A. Explosives Act 1999
This Information Bulletin is to inform any person who employs the services of another, who may have access to explosives, that they have a duty under section 33 of the Explosives Act 1999 to ensure that the person having access to those explosives is old enough, qualified, experienced and appropriately security cleared, and to provide guidance on how such duty may be exercised.
The Explosives Act 1999, Section 33 sets out the employer’s obligation about employees.
Explosives Act 1999 Section 33 - employer’s obligation about employees.
- An employer must not allow an employee to have access to an explosive unless—
- the employee is the age prescribed by regulation; and
- for an employer who holds a security sensitive authority—
- the employee holds a security clearance; or
- the access is within the course of the employee’s employment and in the presence, and under the direct supervision, of a person who holds a security clearance.
- Before an employer asks or allows an employee to carry out an activity involving the handling of explosives, the employer must be reasonably satisfied the employee has the qualifications, experience and expertise prescribed by regulation for the carrying out of the activity.
This Information Bulletin applies to those explosives where potential risks are high i.e. security sensitive explosives (SSE).
Schedule 2 of the Explosives Act 1999 sets out the definition of SSE: Security Sensitive Explosive means—
- ammunition, other than small arms ammunition, that contains an explosive; or
- a blasting explosive; or
- a firework, other than a firework prescribed by regulation; or
- a propellant powder; or
- a pyrotechnic substance used in a firework; or
- another explosive prescribed by regulation that—
- if used, could cause the death of a person or serious personal injury; or
- could be readily adapted for use in a device that, if used, could cause the death of a person or serious personal injury
Explosives are essential tools for the mining and construction industries in Queensland. However, they also are an inherently dangerous class of materials which present risks to the community. Such risks arise primarily as a result of their use and handling, including transport, storage and sale, but also because they are attractive to an undesirable element within the community. As such, explosives need to be treated within a safety and security management system which :
- minimises the probability of incidents,
- minimises the potential consequences of any incident, and
- imposes adequate controls on access, availability and stock records.
Under normal ‘duty of care’ requirements (refer Section 32 of the Explosives Act 1999) any employer who employs someone to do something would be required to ensure, among other things, that the person was competent to carry out the tasks. This would include:
- training appropriate to the tasks,
- physical and mental ability to carry out the tasks,
- an understanding of the hazards involved and the safety measures necessary for the tasks,
- exposure to the written procedures, if any,
- assessment of the above, and
- maintenance of the above.
Section 33 of the Explosives Act 1999 imposes a further obligation requiring an employer to only allow an employee who is 18 years old or over and who holds a security clearance to have unsupervised access to explosives. Where an employee does not hold a security clearance they are not allowed access to explosives unless the employee is in the presence of, and under the direct supervision of, a person who holds a security clearance.
Hence, in addition to a person’s competence as outlined above, the employer is also required to consider, when the nature of the explosives requires; Does the person:
- satisfy the statutory requirements, e.g. age, licence, qualifications?
- demonstrate satisfactory physical and mental abilities ?
- have a satisfactory prior work history which would indicate the person could reasonably be expected to comply with work procedures? e.g. acceptable attitude, no prior relevant disciplinary issues, satisfactory references,
- have a security clearance? (holding a security clearance ensures the person has a satisfactory police clearance and satisfactory politically motivated violence check - ASIO check)
- continue to satisfy the above requirements?
To enable a proper consideration of the above the employer should:
- limit the number of persons having access to explosives as far as practicable,
- advise those having access to explosives that the employer has a statutory obligation to check their suitability and appropriateness as outlined above,
- implement health checks as considered appropriate,
- implement effective security controls over explosives under the control of the employer,
- require those needing unsupervised access to explosives to provide to the employer their security clearance,
- notify those having access to explosives that any changes to their situation in regard to criminal history or domestic violence orders, need to be advised to the employer immediately.
While considerations of this type, carried out by an employer, are necessarily subjective in nature, an auditable process such as this would be considered as satisfactory evidence that an employer was seeking to meet relevant obligations under Section 33 of the Explosives Act 1999.
Issued by Resources Safety & Health Queensland