Major hazard facilities
Australian Government agencies and statutory authorities, and self-insured licensees, must follow requirements for major hazard facilities. This includes notification and licensing.
Major hazard facilities explained
Major hazard facilities are sites that store, handle and process large quantities of hazardous chemicals and dangerous goods. This includes explosives that exceed allowed limits.
Common examples of major hazard facilities
- Chemical manufacturing and storage
- Explosive storage depots
- Explosive and munitions manufacturing facilities
- Gas processing plants
- LPG storage and distribution facilities
- Some warehouses and transport depots
- Fuel storage depots.
How we manage risks at facilities
The key risks at major hazard facilities are explosion, fire, and the release of chemicals in the facility or surrounding area.
We help manage these risks through:
- mandatory licensing of major hazard facilities
- requiring facilities to notify Comcare when they have more than a specific quantity of chemicals.
For more information, see:
Notification quantities and threshold quantities
Each hazardous chemical has a notification quantity and a threshold quantity.
- At the notification quantity, a facility must notify Comcare.
- At the threshold quantity, a facility must apply for a major hazard facility licence.
- Between the notification and threshold quantity, Comcare may determine that the facility requires a major hazard facility licence.
Quantities of common hazardous chemicals
Table 1 provides the quantities for some common hazardous chemicals.
A full list of the notification and threshold quantities for hazardous chemicals is available in schedule 15 of the Work Health and Safety Regulations 2011.
|Hazardous chemical||Threshold quantity|| Notification quantity|
(When to notify Comcare)
5,000 tonnes or more
250 tonnes or more
2 tonnes or more
20 tonnes or more
2.5 tonnes or more
Major hazard facility notification
Meeting your obligations to notify
The Major Hazard Facilities Notifications and Determinations guide provides information to help operators of facilities meet their obligations. This includes operators who are, or are likely to become, a major hazard facility.
This guide assists operators to:
- provide prompt notification for an existing facility
- provide timely notification for a new or proposed facility
- accurately calculate the quantity of schedule 15 chemicals present or likely to be present at the facility
- supply all the information required in a notification.
When you need to notify
You must notify Comcare when your facility reaches or exceeds the notification quantity for any of the chemicals listed in schedule 15 of the Work Health and Safety Regulations 2011.
How to notify
Submit the Major Hazard Facility Notification form (PDF, 83.7 KB) to notify Comcare if your facility controls schedule 15 materials greater than the 10 per cent threshold quantity.
To notify us, you will need:
- Document with a description of the primary business activity at the site
- Document with a description of the activities and processes that involve schedule 15 materials
- Document with details of all major incidents involving schedule 15 hazardous chemicals in the past 10 years or for the life of the facility, where operations have been in existence for less than 10 years
- Document with the number of people (including contractors) normally located at the facility
- Scaled plan/s showing facility layout, temporary storage areas, control rooms, loading areas, administration and workshop areas, and main processing units and storage arrangements
- Scaled map(s) for the area up to 500 metres from the facility showing details of the natural and built environment and highlighting any major infrastructure, utilities and transport corridors, and any other major hazard facilities
- Copy of the business name registration certificate or other written evidence of the registration of the business name (where applicable)
- Copy of an extract from the ASIC register which lists the current owner, part-owners, directors, partners or officers having an interest (where applicable).
If you need help, email email@example.com or call us on 1300 366 979.
Major hazard facility licence
When you need to apply for a licence
A major hazard facility licence is required when a facility has chemicals listed in schedule 15 of the Work Health and Safety Regulations 2011 present, or likely to be present, and:
- the quantity exceeds the threshold quantity, or
- the quantity is between the notification and threshold quantity and Comcare has determined that the facility is a major hazard facility and requires a licence.
When we determine if a facility is a major hazard facility, we consider:
- the amount and combination of schedule 15 chemicals
- the type of activities at the facility
- land use and other activities in the surrounding area.
How to apply for a licence
Operators of a major hazard facility must apply to Comcare for a licence to operate the facility.
Submit the Operate a Major Hazard Facility application form (PDF, 175.2 KB) to apply for a licence to store, handle or process large chemicals in a major hazard facility.
The form contains more information about the application process.
Develop a safety case and have it assessed
In the licence application, you must develop a safety case for the facility and have this assessed by an approved assessor.
The assessor must prepare an assessment of the safety case for the major hazard facility together with an executive summary.
The major hazard facility operator then submits the executive summary to Comcare in support of the licence application.
List of approved assessors
Arup Australia Pty Ltd
Sky Park, One Melbourne Quarter
699 Collins Street
Docklands, Victoria 3008
Contact: Mr Nigel Cann
(03) 9668 5516
Monash Business Park
19 Business Park Drive
Notting Hill, Victoria 3168
Contact: Ms Cherie Holland
(03) 9542 3700
R4Risk Pty Ltd
15 Yarra Street
PO Box 5023
South Melbourne, Victoria 3205
Contact: Mr Brian Cooper
(03) 9268 9700
Comcare maintains the register of approved assessors.
Comcare may grant an exemption from complying with provisions of the Work Health and Safety Regulations 2011. We usually only do this when the standards of health and safety will not be compromised.
Before you apply for an exemption, we recommend you first read the Regulatory guide - Major hazard facility exemptions, which includes further information about this exemption and the application process.
Notify us if your details change
Please contact us if any details change:
- email firstname.lastname@example.org
- mail National Operations, Comcare, GPO Box 9905, Canberra ACT 2601.
Information for operators of a facility
Establishing a safety management system
- Safety management systems – information about best practice safety management systems for major hazard facilities.
- Safety case: Demonstrating the adequacy of safety management and control measure – information about marketing a business case to manage safety within a major hazard facility.
- Safety assessments – information about safety assessments for major hazard facilities.
Identifying major incidents and hazards
- Incident notification—part 3 of the Work, Health and Safety Act 2011 – the legislative requirements for incident notification to Comcare.
- Work Health and Safety Incident Notification guide (PDF, 134.3 KB) – helps you decide whether you need to notify Comcare of an injury, illness or dangerous incident under the Work Health and Safety Act 2011.
Preparing and testing an emergency plan
- Emergency plans – information to prepare, implement and test an emergency plan.
- Major Hazard Facility – Completion of Annual Report guidance (PDF, 3.6 MB) – outlines the information and level of detail Comcare requires within an annual report on the performance of the facility's safety management system and its ability to continue operating safely.
Reviewing risk management
- How to Manage Work Health and Safety Risks Code of Practice – provides practical guidance for people with duties under the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 and Regulations 2011 to manage risks to health and safety.
- Major hazard facilities—chapter 9 of the Work Health and Safety Regulations 2011 – specific information on regulatory information relating to managing risks for major hazard facilities.
Training and providing information
- Information, training and instruction for workers and other persons at the facility – information about training and instruction for workers and others involved with chemicals in a major hazard facility.
- Providing information to the community – information about the responsibilities of providing information.