Hazardous substances

An audit of how well the Defence Force manages hazardous substances, which includes things like ammunition, explosives, gases, flammable liquids and toxic material. The audit is a legal requirement and is undertaken approximately every three years.

How the review was done

Information for the audit Hazardous Substances: Management in the New Zealand Defence Force was gathered by analysing relevant files and documents, observing practices at military bases, and interviewing relevant personnel. An external organisation also did technical audits.

Findings and recommendations

The audit findings were consistent with previous audits and found that the Defence Force has a generally effective system for managing hazardous substances.

The Defence Force has a Code of Practice that governs the management of hazardous substances. The audit found that the Code needs to be regularly updated to ensure it is equivalent to the hazardous substances legislation(external link). It also recommended some changes to make the Code a simpler and more useful resource and to be clear about contractors’ compliance requirements.

The audit found that within Defence the roles and responsibilities were not always clear. To address this lack of clarity, the report proposed a system of ‘directors’ to be accountable and given the necessary resources for hazardous substances management.

It was found that system level controls, such as risk management, controls on hazardous lifecycles and emergency response were variable in quality and not always followed. The report recommended strengthening these controls to ensure compliance is at or above minimum standards.

The audit was undertaken ahead of a new regulatory framework, the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015(external link) and the Hazardous Substances Regulations 2016, which will also require changes to the Defence systems and could be done in parallel to the changes recommended as a result of the audit.