Information for territorial authorities

This fact sheet provides general information for territorial authorities about Major Hazard Facilities (MHFs) and the roles of WorkSafe New Zealand (WorkSafe), territorial authorities and MHF operators.

Why are MHFs important?

It is important that territorial authorities are aware of the MHFs in their area. Significant failure to control risks associated with MHFs doesn’t happen often, but when it does the consequences can be catastrophic and cause harm to people, the environment and the wider economy.

All workplaces with hazardous substances must comply with applicable requirements in the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 and associated regulations, particularly the Health and Safety at Work (Hazardous Substances) Regulations 2017. 

Workplaces that store and use large quantities of specified hazardous substances must comply with the Health and Safety at Work (Major Hazard Facilities) Regulations 2016 (MHF Regulations). These regulations are implemented by WorkSafe and specify types of hazardous substances, their thresholds and the duties of MHF operators.

What responsibilities do local authorities have?

The MHF Regulations do not require or impose any additional responsibility on territorial authorities. However, the regulations do require MHF operators to consult territorial authorities and to provide information to the local community.

Given the harm that could be caused if an MHF fails to control risks, territorial authorities have duties as a Person Conducting a Business or Undertaking (PCBU) under HSWA to consider the presence and location of a MHF in their planning decisions.

What’s WorkSafe’s role?

WorkSafe implements and regulates the MHF Regulations. We designate facilities as MHFs and once designated, MHF operators must comply with the MHF Regulations.

More about MHFs

There are two types of MHFs – Upper Tier and Lower Tier. The difference between them is the aggregated quantities of specified hazardous substances on site.

WorkSafe has specialist inspectors who visit MHFs and enforce the MHF Regulations. Of particular relevance to local authorities, all MHF operators must:

  • carry out a safety assessment to identify potential major incidents and major incident hazards
  • have and test an emergency plan
  • put in controls to manage risks
  • consult with the local authority on their emergency plan (Regulation 31)
  • notify the local authority in the event of a major incident (Regulation 67).

If the MHF is an Upper Tier MHF it must also:

  • have a safety case (Regulation 45), which demonstrates that the operator has the ability and means to control major incident hazards effectively. The safety case must include demographic information about the local community. This includes surrounding land uses permitted by the local authority, within a 2 km radius of any point on the perimeter of the facility (Schedule 7)
  • provide general information to the local community about its operation (Regulation 66).

If the MHF is a Lower Tier MHF it must have a Major Accident Prevention Policy in place (Regulation 36).

Where do territorial authorities get more information?

WorkSafe’s website has more information about MHFs, including a list of MHF facilities by region.

If you have questions about the MHF Regulations contact WorkSafe at 0800 030 040 or email hhu.mhf@worksafe.govt.nz.

You can also see our frequently asked questions