Safety and first aid

Damaged chemicals, poison and pesticides

  • Take extreme care when handling any spills or containers of suspected poisons, chemicals, gases or pesticides, especially if containers are damaged.
  • Do not handle or transport damaged gas cylinders. Contact emergency services
  • Try to identify chemicals and their hazards using labels and markings.

Dangerous damaged goods may include:

  • gas cylinders
  • containers of corrosives
  • oils and fuels
  • pesticides
  • pool chemicals 
  • industrial chemicals.

Wear the protective clothing and respiratory protection that is recommended on the product label or material safety data sheet. Always follow the manufacturer's recommendations when handling chemicals. Spills or containers of these goods should be isolated until safe management has been arranged.

If the label is damaged, you can search for the manufacture's material safety data sheet online or seek advice from Poisons Information on 13 11 26.

If the label has been removed and the container is leak proof and sealed it can be disposed at a landfill facility that takes chemicals. For large quantities a chemical waste management company may need to be contacted to arrange safe disposal.

Protective clothing

Protective clothing that might be needed includes:

  • heavy duty gloves
  • protective eye wear
  • respiratory protection
  • enclosed footwear
  • long sleeves and pants.

Work up-wind from any chemical spills, in an area with good ventilation.

Remove soils or other materials affected by chemical spills. Treat the soil or other material as chemical waste.

If there is damage to chemical containers resulting in a leak or spill

  • Contact the local fire services branch and any relevant authority for expert assistance
  • Cordon off the area
  • Do not wash spillage down drains
  • If safe to do so, prevent spread of spilled material by using sand, soil or other commercial spill-containing products
  • Minimise the potential for presence of an ignition point or flame in case the chemical is flammable.

General tips for dealing with poisons, chemicals and pesticides

  • For chemicals that can be identified, check the product material safety data sheet before handling chemicals. Contact the manufacturer /supplier or it may be available from their website. When handling chemicals wear personal protective equipment such as the chemical resistant gloves, protective eyewear and respirator fitted with the filters recommended by the material safety data sheet, enclosed footwear, long-sleeved shirts and trousers.
  • Be aware that some chemicals are odourless and can pose an increased risk when working in an enclosed space.
  • Separate chemicals from each other to prevent the risk of any chemical reactions. For example, oils and dry pool chlorine may cause a fire if brought together.
  • Operating generators and other fuel-powered equipment should stay outdoors or be placed in a well-ventilated area to prevent the build-up of contaminant exhaust gases such as carbon monoxide.
  • This includes preventing mobile plant (earth-moving equipment) coming into contact with containers, particularly gas cylinders
  • Prior to switching equipment back on, check for any damaged parts and ensure all chemical processing and handling equipment(e.g. pool equipment) is checked and cleared for use by a qualified electrician.
  • Contact your supplier regarding the safe return to operation for gas supply systems.
Last reviewed: 13-10-2023
Questions? Ask your local government environmental health services