Lead Acid Battery Regulations

Lead Acid Battery Regulations

 Australian Lead Acid Battery Regulations (New & Used)

The Australian regulations governing the storage and transportation of new and used lead acid batteries are very similar.  The main difference being the hazardous waste regulations that apply to used lead acid batteries don’t apply to new batteries. There are also some variations in State regulations, however increasingly many of the regulations are being harmonised nationally. The most notable exception to this is the lead acid battery regulations for Western Australia.

Below is an overview of the Australian lead acid battery regulations for both new and used / waste lead acid batteries, with state variations noted.

Regulations Common To New & Used Batteries;

1. Work Health & Safety (WHS) Regulations or something similarly named depending on your state. For all states, except Western Australia, these regulations are based on Worksafe Australia’s WHS Model Laws and Regulations.  Your state based WHS regulations will include the following significant chapters that concern the storage and handling of new & used lead acid batteries;

  • “Hazardous Work” and the sub section “Hazardous Manual Tasks” – This is relevant because batteries are heavy and often exceed the recommended lifting weight of 15kg.
  • “Hazardous Chemicals” – wet lead acid batteries contain hazardous electrolytes / acids and are classified under the Global Harmonisation System (GHS) as a hazardous chemical. The GHS has been incorporated into WorkSafe Australian Model WHS laws.
  • “General Workplace Management” and the sub section “Hazardous Atmospheres” – Lead acid batteries, particularly new batteries are a potential ignition source, so appropriate steps must be taken to eliminate this risk.

2. Worksafe Australia have also produced a number of Model Codes of Practice that are practical guides for achieving the health & safety standards for specific work activities under the model WHS Act and Regulations. To have any legal effect the model Code of Practice must have been approved as a code of practice in your State or Territory. To determine if a relevant Code of Practice has been approved check with your State WHS regulator.

Note approved codes of practice while not law are admissible in court proceedings. Courts may regard an approved code of practice as evidence of what is known about a hazard, risk or control and may rely on the relevant code to determine what is reasonably practicable in the circumstances.

As an example Worksafe Australia published a Code of Practice “Managing Risks of Hazardous Chemicals in the Workplace”, which has been adopted as a code of practice in several States. This code of practice is relevant to managing the risks associated with the Storage and Handling of lead acid batteries.

3. TheAustralian Code for the transportation of Dangerous Goods By Road and Rail”, (ADGC) sets out the requirements for transporting dangerous goods by road or rail. The National Transport Commission‘s (NTC) maintains and updates the code while each State has it’s own dangerous goods (DG) transport regulations that incorporate the requirements of the ADGC. The State DG transport regulations also provide additional  information such as supply chain member duties, licensing requirements and penalties.

4. The Load Restraint Guide 2018, provides the basic safety principles for the safe carriage of loads. If you’re involved in packing, loading, moving or unloading a vehicle, you are responsible for complying with load restraint laws. The Load Restraint Guide, developed by the National Transport Commission, outlines how you may meet the performance standards for restraining vehicle loads. The legal requirements are the performance standards referenced in the Heavy Vehicle National Law and are stated in Schedule 7 (pages 97–99) of the Heavy Vehicle (Mass, Dimension and Loading) National Regulation.

Note: The NHVL does not apply in Western Australia and Northern Territory. Restraint requirements for WA & NT are contained in their own Road Traffic regulations, both of which reference the NTC’s Load Restraint Guide 2004.

5. TheHeavy Vehicle National Law (NVNL) regulates heavy vehicles over 4.5 tonnes gross vehicle mass, in participating Australian States & territories (all except NT & WA, which use their own heavy vehicle transport regulations).  The NVHL is underpinned by the following 4 sets of regulations;

  • Heavy Vehicle (General) National Regulation
  • Heavy Vehicle (Fatigue Management) National Regulation
  • Heavy Vehicle (Mass, Dimension and Loading) National Regulation
  • Heavy Vehicle (Vehicle Standards) National Regulation

The NVHL includes “Chain of Responsibility” provisions that can make Consignor’s and it’s executives legally liable for failure to meet the requirements of this law. Western Australia & the Northern Territory have also included similar Chain of Responsibility provisions in their transport regulations.

Waste / Used Lead Acid Battery Regulations;

Regulations specific to used or waste lead acid batteries include;

Waste Transport Regulations

Used or Waste lead acid batteries are classified as a hazardous (and controlled) waste in each Australian State and Territory. As a result there is State and Territory based regulations that control their intrastate and interstate movement. In general these regulations will require that you only use a transport company that has a controlled waste license for used lead acid batteries. The provisions of a waste carrier license typically includes requirements such as;

  • Marking the vehicle with the appropriate controlled waste signage.
  • Vehicle must carry the appropriate spill containment equipment.
  • Have an emergency response plan for the Driver
  • Use of suitable containers to prevent leakage of fluid and waste into the environment.

The  interstate transportation of used lead acid batteries is governed by a national agreement the “National Environmental Protection (Movement of Controlled Waste Between States And Territories) Measure” which has been enacted by each State. The NEPC is designed to ensure controlled wastes which are to be moved between States and Territories are transported, and handled in environmentally sound ways.

Waste Storage Regulations

Under most State’s environmental regulations its an offence to allow acids to discharge into the environment. Your Used Lead Acid Batteries should be stored in a bunded area (or device) and undercover to prevent the occurrence of an unauthorised discharge event.

Further Details

Follow this link for a more comprehensive summary and explanation of the lead acid battery storage regulations.

Follow this link for a more comprehensive summary and explanation of the lead acid battery transport regulations.

“Duty of Care” and “Chain of Responsibility”

“Duty of Care” and “Chain Of Responsibility” provisions in some of the above regulations means that Companies & Organisations, have a responsibilities to ensure that their batteries are correctly stored, handled & transported by their staff and suppliers. Failure to discharge their responsibilities correctly can result in Companies and their Executives being deemed liable, if they are unable to demonstrate that they have taken all reasonable steps to prevent a breach.

Please note that this information regarding the lead acid battery regulations is general in nature. Companies must do their own research to understand their legal obligations in each jurisdiction and to ensure that they are compliant with storage & handling regulations for used lead acid battery.

  1. Safe Work Australia developed the Model Work Health And Safety Act supported by WHS Regulations to improve national harmonisation of  work safety laws. These have been approved by most States and Territories, who are responsible for regulating and enforcing the laws in their jurisdictions (WA is the exception). To look up the relevant WHS or OHS regulations for your state go to www.safeworkaustralia.gov.au/law-and-regulation/law-your-state. Also look up here whether there are any relevant Codes of Practice such as “Managing Hazardous Chemicals in the Workplace” that have been adopted in your state.
  2. Australian Standard for Storing & Handling Corrosives 3780:2008 – This publication can be purchased from a number of online providers. Section 2 deals with provisions for Minor Storage, which applies if the combined volume of acid contained by the batteries is less than 1000L.
  3. Century Batteries, Safety Data Handling Sheet for Lead Acid Batteries.
  4. Australian Code for the transportation of Dangerous Goods By Road and Rail – See Chapter 4.1.4 for a list of Packing Instructions including P801 for batteries, Chapter 5.2 for Marking & Labeling requirements for Packages, Chapter 5.3 Placarding and Marking of Transport Units and Part 8 for Stowage & Restraint requirements.
  5. The  interstate transportation of ULAB is governed by a national agreement, National Environmental Protection (Movement of Controlled Waste Between States And Territories) Measure, which is administered by State Environmental Authorities. Each State’s Environmental Protection Regulations stipulate requirements for transporting and disposing of controlled waste and the Waste Holder’s obligations.
  6. The National Transport Commission‘s (NTC) “Heavy Vehicle National Law” and look up your State’s implementation (not applicable for WA and NT).
  7. The Australian Battery Recycling Initiative (ABRI), is an industry body established to promote the collection, recycling and safe disposal of all batteries. ABRI has published several useful documents outlining the regulatory requirements and “best practice” recommendations for the storage, handling and transportation of ULAB.
  8. Used or Waste lead acid batteries are classified as a controlled waste in Most states. Search for the applicable Controlled Waste Regulations in your State.

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