Commercial transport of explosives not requiring an explosives transport licence

Why do some explosives not require an explosives transport licence?

Explosives that do not present a significant safety or security risk to the community do not require an explosives transport licence (ETL). This can be a function of the type of explosive (e.g. sparklers, cartridges for nail guns) and/or the quantity transported.

This list of explosives is a balance between community expectations and the hazard the explosives pose. Otherwise, a person who takes home a packet of sparklers from the supermarket, or a boat owner transporting a set of marine distress flares, would require an explosives transport licence.

What explosives may be transported without an explosives transport licence?

Schedule 7 and regulation 12 of the Dangerous Goods Safety (Explosives) Regulations 2007 (Explosives Regulations) outlines which explosives may be transported without a licence.

Schedule 7 lists certain types and quantities of explosives that do not require explosives transport licensing.  Whereas regulation 12 excludes a number of low order explosives as they are not subject to the Explosives Regulations.

Table 1 below lists the types and quantities of explosives that can be transported without an ETL. For all other explosive types, and for quantities greater than the threshold quantity outlined in the table, transport will require an ETL.

Name Threshold quantity (kg) United Nations (UN) No. Class Authorisations from Firearms Branch
Ammunition Any quantity 0012 or 0014 1.4S Yes
Primers Any quantity 0044 1.4S Yes
Propellant powders less than or equal to 50 0160 or 0161 1.1C or 1.3C Yes
Black powder less than or equal to 4 0027 or 0028 1.1D Yes
Flares less than or equal to 50* 0092 1.3G No
Flares less than or equal to 250* 0191 or 0373 1.4G or 1.4S No
Railway track signals less than or equal to 50* 0492 1.3G No
Railway track signals less than or equal to 250* 0493 or 0193 1.4G or 1.4S No
Other emergency devices less than or equal to 50* Various 1.3G No
Other emergency devices less than or equal to 250* Various 1.4G or 1.4S No
Cartridges, power device Any quantity 0275, or 0276 or 0323 1.3C or 1.4C or 1.4S No
Sparklers Any quantity 0336 or 0337 1.4G or 1.4S No
Model rocket motors (1) Any quantity 0336 or 0337 1.4G or 1.4S No
Smoke generators less than or equal to 250* 0197 or 0507 1.4G or 1.4S No
Unrestricted fireworks (2) Any quantity 0337 1.4S No
  • * Gross weight of product, not the net explosive quantity (NEQ)
  • (1) A NEQ of each individual motor of more than 62.5 g
  • (2) Is a percussion cap for a toy or starting pistol; a party popper (streamer cone) in which the NEQ is not more than 5g; a snap for bob bon or Christmas cracker in which the NEQ is not more than 1.6 g per 1,000 of such articles; throwdown in which the NEQ is not more than 2.6 g per 1,000 of such articles.

 

 

I used to be able to commercially transport class 1.4 and 1.4S explosives without licensing, is that still the case?

No. Under current legislation both the safety and security aspects are considered when transporting explosives. Even though class 1.4 explosives do not pose a significant safety risk, some will still pose a significant security risk to the community.

For example, a box of class 1.4S detonators or a case of class 1.4S shaped charges may not present a major safety risk but they do pose a significant security risk. This is why licensing and controls are put in place when commercially transporting these products.

What legislation do I need to comply with as a commercial carrier transporting explosives that do not require explosives transport licensing?

The prime contractor must comply with the Explosives Regulations as well as the requirements of the Australian Code for the Transport of Explosives by Road and Rail, 3rd edition (AEC3), commonly known as the Australian Explosives Code.

The Australian Explosives Code (AEC3) is available from Safe Work Australia.

Additionally, a transport company must also comply with the requirements of the Firearms Act 1973 when transporting ammunition, primers, propellant powders and black powders, which are classed as ammunition as well as explosives (see Table 1).

How can a transport company carry ammunition, propellant powder and black powder?

A transport company must make application in writing to the Firearms Branch to commercially transport ammunition, primers, propellant powder or black powder.  The letter of application must be accompanied by a safety and security plan that demonstrates how the company proposes to keep these products secure.

When satisfied, the police will issue a letter. A copy of this letter should be carried by the driver when transporting these products.

In addition, a transport company will still need to comply with the requirements of the Explosives Regulations.

If a company is transporting more than the threshold quantities as defined by Explosives Regulations see What are the requirements when transporting explosives in excess of the threshold quantities?

What are the requirements for commercial carriers when transporting explosives that do not require an explosives transport licence?

Generally these are:

  • providing adequate security for the explosives (so that no unauthorised person can access the explosives)
  • carrying a transport document for the consignment in the emergency information holder
  • observing the general operational requirements in the Explosives Regulations and the AEC3 (e.g. no smoking, correct packaging, observing the loading and unloading of the vehicles, capable of dealing with emergencies).

Security provisions

The Explosives Regulations relaxes the security requirements for the types and quantities of explosives that do not require explosives transport licensing.  However, people only with a reasonable reason to be in possession of these types of explosives (other than sparklers or model rocket motors) may have them. Hence, it is necessary that unauthorised people do not obtain access.

When transporting ammunition, primers, propellant powder and/or black powders, the Firearms Branch requires that adequate security (e.g. locked containers) be provided for the entire journey before they will give their approval.

Packaging and handling requirements

  • Packages must be of an approved standard and correctly labelled as required by AEC3.

The Australian Explosives Code (AEC3) is available from Safe Work Australia.

  • All practical measures are to be taken when loading or unloading explosives from a vehicle that the packages are not dropped, thrown or otherwise mishandled.
  • No loading and unloading shall take place during thunderstorms.
  • If a person is affected by either alcohol or a drug (to an extent that it increases the risk), they must not handle the explosives or be on a vehicle transporting explosives.

Driver and passenger requirements

  • If an ETL is not required the driver does not need:
    • a dangerous goods security card (DGSC)
    • to be a secure nominee
    • an explosives drivers licence.

It is always a good practice for the driver to have a police clearance.

  • A person affected by either alcohol or a drug (to an extent that it increases the risk), must not handle the explosives or be on a vehicle transporting explosives.
  • A person must not carry or transport explosives on any road vehicle which is carrying other passengers for hire and/or reward.

Fire safety and emergency requirements

  • No ignition sources (e.g. lit cigarette) or fire risk substances are to be brought so near to the explosives that it could cause the unintended initiation of the explosive.
  • Transport documentation for the consignment, with all the required dangerous goods information, must be located in the ‘Information Holder’, normally located on or near the driver’s door.
  • Any incident that occurs involving an explosive that may result in a dangerous situation (e.g. fire of a vehicle carrying explosives), the prime contractor must:
    • provide reasonable assistance to deal with the situation
    • notify the department
    • provide the department with a written report within 21 days of the incident.

It is always good practice to carry a fire extinguisher in case of emergency.

Reporting dangerous goods incidents provides guidance on reportable incidents involving explosives.

Table 2 lists quantities and types of explosives that do not require an ETL and the requirements a transport company must observe even when transporting these items.

Can explosives that do not require an explosives transport licence be transported with other classes of dangerous goods?

Non-placardable amounts of explosives that do not require an ETL may be transported with non-placardable amounts of dangerous goods, if a transport company complies with the following criteria.

  • The vehicle does not require placarding by virtue of the quantity of:
    • dangerous goods being transported according to the Australian Dangerous Goods Code, Edition 7.4 (ADG7.4)
    • explosives being transported according to the AEC3.
  • There are no class 1.1 explosives as part of the load (e.g. black powder).
  • The explosives are of compatibility groups 1.2G, 1.3G, 1.3C, 1.4G or 1.4S.
  • There are no detonators as part of the load.

If in doubt, it is best not to transport explosives with dangerous goods.

The Australian Dangerous Goods Code (ADG7.4) is available from the National Transport Commission.

The Australian Explosives Code (AEC3) is available from Safe Work Australia.

Can I carry more than one type of explosive that does not require explosive transport licensing?

Yes, provided that the quantity of each explosive does not exceed the quantities as allowed in the Explosives Regulations. For example, it is possible to transport any quantity of ammunition with no more than 50 kg NEQ (net explosive quantity) of propellant powders.

What are the requirements when transporting explosives in excess of the threshold quantities?

An ETL is required.  Part of the process, when making application for an explosives transport licence, is preparing an explosives management plan (EMP).  The EMP describes how the transport company will keep the explosives safe and secure during transport and handling.

Drivers will require a dangerous goods security card and in most instances (other than Category 1 quantities of explosives) the driver will also require an explosives driver’s licence when transporting explosives in excess of the threshold quantities.

Transport of explosives by road and on mines details the requirements when transporting Categories 1, 2 and 3 loads of explosives on roads and when transporting explosives on mine sites.