NT’s dangerous goods transport laws change

Several amendments to the legislation governing the Territory’s transport of dangerous goods by road and rail have been introduced.

The changes are intended to harmonise the NT with other states and territories by adopting the current national model law. The changes also support one of the recommendations of the Independent Scientific Inquiry into Hydraulic Fracturing in the Northern Territory by ensuring that chemicals are transported in accordance with national and international best practice.

Key reforms introduced in the Amendment Bill include:

  • Creating an exemption for dangerous goods in excepted quantities. This change will allow very small quantities of dangerous goods to be transported, where there is no increase in risk, without burdensome administrative controls;
  • Changing the information and placarding requirements for the transport of dangerous goods packed in limited quantities. In particular, consignors will be required to provide less detailed documentation for dangerous goods packed in limited quantities, and the aggregate mass for placarding purposes will be increased;
  • Introducing requirements for the storage of transport documentation. In particular, transport documentation must be readily able to be located within the cabin of the vehicle;
  • Changing licencing requirements to confirm that novice drivers are not entitled to a dangerous goods driver licence;
  • Eliminating the requirement to remove markings in cases where goods are dangerous for air or marine purposes, but are not dangerous for transportation by road or rail;
  • Introducing obligations for prime contractors relating to the parking, unloading, operation of burners and the detaching of trailers. A variation to the detachment of trailers will be introduced to suit the unique conditions in remote parts of the Territory. This variation affects drivers and prime contractors;
  • Introducing restrictions on the transportation of nominally empty storage vessels. These vessels can be even more dangerous than when they are full of dangerous goods;
  • Modernising ullage requirements in cases where vehicles are transporting dangerous goods and non-dangerous goods in tanks. However a variation will be introduced to allow local industry the opportunity to upgrade their fleet over time to comply with the new ullage requirements;
  • Clarifying requirements for  the use of portable warning triangles and setting out requirements when broken down or immobilised vehicles are towed;
  • Introducing an additional requirement in the transport of tools of trade and dangerous goods for private use to avoid the risk of explosion where flammable gasses are transported in an enclosed space in a vehicle;
  • Allowing the use of an unlicensed vehicle in the transport of dangerous goods as approved by the regulator. Such approval is only likely to be granted in exceptional circumstances;
  • Requiring consignors, prime contractors and rail operators to comply with emergency plans in the event of a dangerous situation;
  • Exempting mobile processing units from the regulations. Mobile processing units are purpose built vehicles used in mining, quarrying a civil construction applications to manufacture or blend explosives;
  • Clarifying the insurance requirements associated with combination vehicles. In particular, the required insurance applies to a combination as a whole (rather than to each individual component of a combination); and
  • Invalidating any transaction that occurs in contravention of an embargo notice.

NT WorkSafe Executive Director Peggy Cheong said that the new regulations have been developed in consultation with the NT Road Transport Association and members of the transport industry.

“The changes will simplify transactions, and minimise compliance and training costs for businesses.”

“These reflect the NT’s commitment to increase efficiency and maximise safety in the transport of dangerous goods.”

Affected parties will also be able to request the review of decisions made by the regulator upon application to the Northern Territory Civil and Administrative Tribunal. This pathway will be easier and cheaper than the current system of review by application to the Local Court.

Interested parties can raise issues relating to the Bill by contacting NT WorkSafe.

The new laws are expected to commence on or before 02 December 2022.

A full description of the legislation changes is available at worksafe.nt.gov.au

Communications Unit