Certified handlers

A certified handler is someone who has been certified to handle very hazardous substances. If you handle acutely toxic (class 6.1A and 6.1B) substances, explosives, fumigants and vertebrate toxic agents you may need to be a certified handler.
Certified handler compliance certificates are issued by compliance certifiers and are valid for five years. The compliance certifier will tell you what they need from you before they can issue the compliance certificate.

The cost of issuing or renewing certificates is set by the compliance certifier. You should contact several certifiers to discuss which services they offer and what fees apply.

Search for a Compliance Certifier(external link)

Certified handlers

Being a certified handler qualifies people to handle very hazardous substances safely and to provide guidance and assistance to other people handling the substances.

To check if you need a certified handler, use the online hazardous substances calculator(external link).

To find out information on the classification of a specific substance, you can search the Environmental Protection Authority’s Approved hazardous substances with controls register(external link).

A compliance certificate can be cancelled by WorkSafe New Zealand if it was obtained by fraud, if the holder has been negligent or incompetent or the holder no longer meets the requirements for the issue of the certificate.

Requirements to be a certified handler

To obtain a Certified Handler Compliance Certificate, you will need to demonstrate the knowledge, experience and competence to safely handle the hazardous substances that your certificate will cover including:

  • Hazardous properties of the substance and how to protect people.  This includes the substance classification, regulations about safe handling, including safe work instruments, and what to do in an emergency.
  • Working knowledge of any operating equipment, including the protective clothing and safety equipment required to handle the substance safely.
  • The controls imposed by the Health and Safety at Work (Hazardous Substances) Regulations 2017.

Further detail is given in Part 4 of the Health and Safety at Work (Hazardous Substances) Regulations 2017(external link).

Providing evidence of your competence

The compliance certifier will need evidence of your competence. The evidence must describe how your knowledge and skills were assessed and the results of that assessment. It may be obtained from:

  • Training providers: If you completed a relevant training course, you can provide this as evidence. It must be signed by the trainer issuing the qualification.
  • Work supervisors: If you were trained at work, a supervisor or manager can provide evidence for you.

Application fee

Compliance certifiers will charge a fee to issue you with a certified handler compliance certificate.  Check with them beforehand what their charges are.   

Renewing your certificate

Certified handler compliance certificates need to be renewed every five years. You cannot continue to work as a certified handler, or purchase hazardous substances that require a certified handler, if your compliance certificate has expired. Your workplace may be operating illegally if there are no current certified handlers on site.

To renew your certificate, contact a compliance certifier.

Search for a compliance certifier(external link)

Handling substances:

When can hazardous substances that are under the control of a certified handler be handled by someone else?

Hazardous substances under the control of a certified handler can be handled by other people, provided that the certified handler:

  • is present at the location
  • has provided guidance to the person handling the substance
  • is available, at all times, to provide assistance while the substance is being handled.

Transporting substances:

Is a certified handler needed for transporting hazardous substances?

A certified handler is always required for transporting explosives. For other hazardous substances, a certified handler is not always required.

Transporting hazardous substances by road: If the driver transporting packaged hazardous substances by road has a dangerous goods (D) endorsement on their driver licence, this is equivalent to holding a Certified Handler Compliance Certificate for road transport.

If transporting a class 6.1A or 6.1B hazardous substance, or any hazardous substance that requires a Controlled Substance Licence, in a bulk tank wagon or transportable container, the driver must hold a Certified Handler Compliance Certificate for bulk transport.

By rail, sea and air: A certified handler is not required as long as the people handling the hazardous substances have undergone recognised training and have appropriate qualifications in those modes of transport.

Find out more

New Hazardous Substances Regulations came into force on 1 December 2017. They brought some changes for certified handlers, previously known as approved handlers under the Hazardous Substances and New Organisms Act.

If you were an approved handler when the Hazardous Substances Regulations came into force (you will have held a current test certificate issued by a test certifier), your certificate will continue to be valid for the full period for which it was issued. When it expires, you will need to apply for a certified handler certificate (if you require one). Find out more about transitional arrangements.

You can also read more in our quick guide.

Certified handler requirements - quick guide (PDF 90 KB)