The main industries affected by explosives laws include demolition, mining, agriculture, policing, pyrotechnics and transport.
The Explosives Act 2003 (NSW) (the Act) is the current primary legislation regulating the full life cycle of explosives, fireworks and explosive precursors in NSW. The objective of The Act is 'to provide for the regulation and control of the handling of explosives and explosive precursors; to provide for the regulation of certain other dangerous goods; and for related purposes'. The Act is supported by the Explosives Regulation 2005 (NSW) (the Regulations) and together they have been effectively governing the use and handling of explosives in NSW since 1 September 2005. This regulatory framework is supported by a range of Australian standards, codes, and a licensing and notification system.
WorkCover NSW conducted a statutory review of the Act and the Regulations. The review found that although the Act was operating efficiently it would be beneficial to make a number of improvements to the Regulations. This included licensing, security clearances and safety management plans.
WorkCover NSW revised the Regulations in consultation with NSW Police, the Department of Trade & Investment and industry stakeholders. A number of changes were agreed.
On 1 September 2013, the Explosives Regulation 2005 was repealed and replaced with the Explosives Regulation 2013 to reflect the review.
- you do not need a licence to learn blasting
- you do not need an explosives licence if you store up to 12kg of propellant powder for reloading purposes – and hold a licence under the Firearms Act 1996
- you can get a single-use fireworks licence up to four times a year
- there are changes to licence conditions (ie explosive licensing conditions and conditions applying to pyrotechnician and fireworks (single use) licences) and licence fees have changed - refer to the WorkCover NSW fees schedule, and
- an unsupervised handling licence has been abolished and replaced with a security clearance.
Changes from 1 March 2014 mean:
- you need a safety management plan to hold a manufacturing licence, and
- you must notify WorkCover at least seven days before using explosives (except for coal and mining workplaces).
Summary of key changes:
- Security clearances for handling explosives or explosive precursors must be held by natural persons.
- The regulator can communicate any information that comes to its knowledge in the exercise of its functions with respect to licences and security clearances and persons who hold these.
At the request of the regulator, the Commissioner of Police can report on:
- an applicant's participation in criminal activity
- available information concerning convictions that the commissioner considers relevant
- whether the applicant is a fit and proper person to hold a licence or security clearance, and
- whether it is contrary to the public interest for a person to hold a licence or security clearance.
- The Administrative Decisions Tribunal may not disclose information reported by the Commissioner of Police to the regulator unless the commissioner gives permission to do so.
- Decisions regarding licences and security clearances can be reviewed internally by the regulator and externally by the Administrative Decisions Tribunal.
Inspectors may request in writing that a person:
- provide written information
- provide documents, and
- attend a specified place to give verbal or written evidence, or produce.
The laws will continue to be monitored and further amendments are anticipated.
For more information on the review visit the SafeWork NSW website.