2022 Changes to the Transport of Dangerous Goods Legislation
Proposed amendments to the transport of dangerous goods laws in the Territory were introduced in the legislative assembly on 13 October 2022. These amendments will ensure that the Territory’s laws are consistent with the law in other States and Territories.
The changes will introduce new penalties that affect consignors, prime contractors, occupiers, manufacturers, loaders and drivers. This is to ensure safe practices are followed when transporting dangerous goods. The proposed new laws are summarised below.
Summary of key changes in the Transport of Dangerous Goods by Road and Rail (National Uniform Legislation) Amendment Bill 2022
Excepted quantities – all persons
The proposed changes will create an exemption from the transport of dangerous goods laws for goods that fall within the definition of excepted quantities. These changes allow very small quantities of dangerous goods to be transported without burdensome administrative controls. Examples of excepted quantities include some perfumes, nail polish and nail polish removers.
There are inner and outer packaging requirements for excepted quantities. There are limits to the weight or volume of the inner and outer packaging. For example, the maximum weight or volume of inner packaging for excepted quantities is 30 grams or millilitres. The outer packaging must be strong, robust and able to meet drop and stack testing requirements.
Concessional documentary requirements also apply to excepted quantities. For example, a dangerous goods transport document (sometimes known as a shipping paper or manifest) is not required for dangerous goods that meet the requirements of excepted quantities. If there is a document accompanying the dangerous goods in excepted quantities, it must include the statement ‘Dangerous Goods in Excepted Quantities’.
Further, marking requirements are also less onerous for excepted quantities. The excepted quantities mark is shown below:
The marking must include the class and division of the dangerous goods and the name of the consignor or consignee (if not shown elsewhere on the package). Where an overpack is used, the word ‘OVERPACK’ must be used unless the marking on the packaging remains visible.
Transport documentation – Prime Contractors and Drivers
Transport documentation must be readily able to be located in the vehicle transporting dangerous goods. This means that transport documentation must be kept in an emergency information holder when transporting a placard load. Vehicles transporting less than a placard load must carry transport documentation in an emergency information holder if fitted. If an emergency information holder is not fitted, the transport documentation must be carried in a prominent location in the cabin of the vehicle. This new responsibility affects prime contractors and drivers.
While there is no standard format for transport documentation, it must include the:
- United Nations number
- proper shipping name
- dangerous goods class or division
- subsidiary hazard (if applicable)
- packaging group (if applicable)
- a description of each receptacle (such as intermediate bulk container or drum)
(Please note that the aggregate quantity of goods in tank vehicles must reflect the actual quantity in the vehicle at any given time. That is, the aggregate quantity must be updated as goods are unloaded). An example of transport documentation shown below:
Towing of broken down or immobilised vehicles – Prime Contractors
If a vehicle that was transporting dangerous goods requires towing, prime contractors must ensure that the tow truck driver holds a dangerous goods driver licence that would authorise the driver to drive a vehicle with the dangerous goods that are loaded onto the towed vehicle. Or, the prime contractor must ensure that the tow truck driver is accompanied in the cabin by a person who holds a dangerous goods licence that would authorise that person to drive a vehicle with those dangerous goods.
General precautions – Prime Contractors
Prime contractors have new responsibilities to ensuring that they do not direct or induce drivers to do certain things. These things are:
- to park or leave a vehicle standing, other than in accordance with Part 13 of the ADG Code.
- to allow goods to be unloaded from the vehicle, except in accordance with Part 13 of the ADG Code.
- to detach a trailer, or allow a trailer to be detached, except in accordance with Part 13 of the ADG Code. There is a variation to suite Territory conditions. In particular, detachment will be allowed if it is necessary to access a remote location that would be otherwise inaccessible. The detached trailer must not present a traffic hazard or a risk to safety. This variation only applies to trailers containing UN Class 3 goods that are flammable liquids.
- to operate a burner, or allow a burner to be operated, except in accordance with Part 13 of the ADG Code.
Detaching trailers – Drivers
Similar to the variation for Prime Contractors, drivers will be able to detach trailers in remote locations if it is necessary to detach the trailer to access a location that would be otherwise inaccessible. The detached trailer must not present a traffic hazard or a risk to safety.
Information requirements – dangerous goods packed in limited quantities – Consignors and Prime Contractors
The information that must be provided by consignors and prime contractors for goods packed in limited quantities will be changed. Rather than provide more detailed dangerous goods transport documentation, consignors are now only required to give prime contractors details of:
- the total gross mass of the dangerous goods packed in limited quantities for each consignment
- if the goods to be consigned are 2000 kg or litres or greater of any one UN Number – The UN Number, Proper Shipping Name and the total aggregate quantity for that UN Number
The prime contractor must ensure that the information provided to them is able to be readily located during transport of the dangerous goods. These concessional information requirements will simplify procedures and reduce administrative costs.
Placarding – Consignors, Prime Contractors, Rail Operators, Loaders and Drivers
Placarding requirements will be changed for limited quantities of specified goods.
Specified goods will be defined as:
- goods packed in limited quantities;
- fireworks (bon bons, party poppers and sparklers);
- domestic smoke detectors;
- lighters or lighter refills containing flammable gas; or
- fire extinguishers containing compressed or liquefied gas (up to a net mass of 23 kg).
Placarding will only be required if there is more than 2000 of any one UN number from a single place of consignment, or the total mass of the specified goods has an aggregate mass 8 tonnes or more.
However, placarding will be required if the load contains flammable gasses, toxic gases, or packing group 1 substances (presenting high danger) and the aggregate quantity of those goods, plus 10 per cent of the total gross mass of dangerous goods that are packed in limited quantities, fireworks (bon bons, party poppers and sparklers), domestic smoke detectors, lighters or lighter refills, or fire extinguishers (up to a net mass of 23 kg) is 250 or more.
Placarding will also be required if 25 per cent of the total gross mass of the load of dangerous goods (that are not flammable gasses, toxic gasses or packing group 1 substances) plus 25 per cent of the total gross mass of goods that are packed in limited quantities, fireworks (bon bons, party poppers and sparklers), domestic smoke detectors, lighters or lighter refills, or fire extinguishers (up to a net mass of 23 kg) is 1000 or more.
Emergency plans – Consignors, Prime Contractors and Rail Operators
Prime contractors, rail operators and consignors will be required to do everything relevant in their emergency plan when a dangerous situation arises.
Ullage – when dangerous goods and non-dangerous goods are transported in tanks – Prime Contractors, Rail Operators, Transferors and Drivers
‘Ullage’ means the empty portion of a tank or container. It is generally expressed as a percentage. It is very important because it affects vehicle handling and stability. For roll-over prevention purposes, ullage requirements will change where a load consists of dangerous goods and non-dangerous goods that are transported on a vehicle in tanks. For consistency, the ullage requirements of each tank will be required to comply with section 10.3.1 of the ADG Code. This change will affect transferors, prime contractors and rail operators.
There will be a variation to allow Territory businesses to manage their tanker fleet on a prospective basis. This variation will prevent local industry participants from having to either immediately purchase new tankers prior to the end of life of their existing fleet or alter load management with attendant significant costs. The new ullage requirements will apply to tankers that are registered for the first time after the provisions come into effect. This variation will only apply to tankers transporting class 3 flammable liquids and will not apply to tank vehicles transporting chemicals for the purposes of hydraulic fracturing.
Nominally empty storage vessels – Consignors, Prime Contractors, Rail Operators, Loaders and Drivers
Empty storage vessels that have yet to be properly cleaned can be even more dangerous than if the vessels were full of dangerous goods. These vessels are known as nominally empty storage vessels. Nominally empty storage vessels will be required to be drained as much as possible before transportation.
Vehicles transporting nominally empty vessels will be required to be placarded in accordance with Chapter 5.3 of the Australian Dangerous Goods Code. Transport documentation will be required to include the words ‘EMPTY UNCLEANED’ or ‘RESIDUE LAST CONTAINED’. Emergency information must also be carried in the cabin of the vehicle. Load restraint, segregation and safety equipment requirements will also apply when transporting nominally empty vessels.
Marking – International Maritime Dangerous Good Code goods & Technical Instructions for the Safe Transport of Dangerous Goods by Air goods – Prime Contractors, Rail Operators, Packers and Loaders
There will be an exemption from marking requirements for some goods that are dangerous by air or marine transport but are not considered to be dangerous for transport by road or rail. In particular, it will no longer be necessary to remove markings from these goods before they are transported by road or rail.
Use of unlicensed vehicle with approval of the Competent Authority – Prime Contractors
The Competent Authority will be given the power to make an administrative determination to allow an unlicensed vehicle to be used to transport dangerous goods. While it is expected this power will only be used in exceptional circumstances, the Competent Authority is currently not authorised to make such an administrative determination.
Use of portable warning triangles – stopped vehicle or fallen load - Drivers
The proposed changes will confirm that the use of portable warning triangles in accordance with the Australian Road Rules will be acceptable. In particular, it will not be necessary to follow guidance on the placement of portable warning triangles in Chapter 13 of the Australian Dangerous Goods Code.
Tools of trade and dangerous goods for private use – tradespeople and members of the public
This proposed change will affect tradespeople and others who transport flammable or toxic gasses such as acetylene, or people who transport a total quantity of over 50 items of packing group 1 (substances presenting a high danger). It will become an offence for these items to be transported in the passenger compartment of a vehicle. It will also become unlawful for these items to be kept in any other enclosed space within a vehicle unless it is sufficiently ventilated to prevent the accumulation of vapours or fumes. This change is in response to many incidents with tragic consequences where the electronic unlocking mechanism of vehicles has acted as an ignition source.
Probationary and provisional licence holders - Drivers
The proposed changes will also mean that probationary or provisional license holders will not be eligible for a dangerous goods driving licence. This change will bring the Territory into line with the other States.
Mobile processing units
Mobile processing units will be exempted from the transport of dangerous goods laws if they are licensed under the Dangerous Goods Regulations 1985. This proposal will reduce duplication and reduce the administrative costs of doing business.
Embargo notice – all persons
Any transaction that occurs in contravention of an embargo notice will no longer be valid.
Northern Territory Civil and Administrative Tribunal – all persons
If a party would like a decision by the regulator reviewed externally, an application will be able to be made to the Northern Territory Civil and Administrative Tribunal. At present, applications can only be made to the Local Court.
Insurance – owners
A proposed change will clarify the insurance requirements for vehicles licenced to transport dangerous goods. In particular, the change will clarify that the insurance requirement applies to a vehicle combination as a whole (rather than to each individual component of a combination).