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    Principles that guide the identification and practical treatment of chemical hazards in today’s society.

    Do you want to know what defines a chemical hazard, the effects of these hazards on our health, legislation governing their handling and transportation and how to deal with incidents involving chemicals? Then this is the paper for you! It will be of particular value to employees who may face situations where they have to deal with chemicals or the consequence of chemical use (public bodies, legal firms, environment officers, emergency services etc). It is designed to enable graduates or individuals with appropriate experience in the management of hazards to develop a critical approach to the principles that guide the identification, classification and treatment of chemical hazards in a modern society.

    About this paper

    Paper title Management of Chemical Hazards
    Subject Hazard Assessment and Management
    EFTS 0.1667
    Points 20 points
    Teaching period 1st Non standard period (27 February 2024 - 31 August 2024) (Distance learning)
    Domestic Tuition Fees ( NZD ) $2,069.25
    International Tuition Fees Tuition Fees for international students are elsewhere on this website.
    CHEM 477, CHEX 477, HAZX 401
    Candidates for the Postgraduate Diploma/Certificate in Health Sciences endorsed in Hazard Assessment and Management must either be a graduate or holder of a professional qualification requiring at least three years' tertiary-level study or have alternative qualifications or experience acceptable to the approval of the Board, which will require evidence of ability to undertake advanced academic study. A minimum background in chemical knowledge to Year 13 or First Year University level is assumed.

    Enrolments for this paper require departmental permission. View more information about departmental permission.

    Department of Chemistry
    University of Otago
    PO Box 56, Dunedin
    New Zealand
    Tel: 64 3 4797912
    Fax: 64 3 4797906

    Teaching staff

    Professor Lyall Hanton

    Paper Structure

    The paper has seven modules:

    • Review of national and international chemical incidents, with a focus on Parnell and ICI incidents as a basis for showing the types of problems that have occurred and the need for new regulations and procedures
    • Material safety data sheets: contents, usage and preparation and where to find them
    • Chemical hazards: definition, energy changes, reaction rates, catalysts, flammability and combustibility, fires and the fire tetrahedron
    • Toxicology: physiological basis; LD50 (median lethal dose); how poisons get into the body, and what they do; psychological stress; types of poison (chronic, corrosive, etc)
    • Legislation: Dangerous Goods Act, Health and Safety in Employment Act, the HSNO Legislation, administrative procedures, health and safety, storage of chemicals, UN labelling system for hazardous materials, workplace exposure standards
    • Management of hazardous materials: safe handling and disposal, transportation, workplace and emergency services; HSTLC's National Poisons Centre and the emergency services - Fire Service, Police, local bodies - and how hospitals function in an emergency
    • Special topic with corresponding case study of a chemical

    There are two pieces of assessment to finish the paper. The first is to write a summary of a report completed on an incident that has occurred, and the second is a case study which involves writing your own report on an incident.

    Teaching Arrangements

    This Distance Learning paper is taught remotely.

    Self-learning is the pedagogical basis for the paper, with students being directed to material rather than detailed lecture notes being provided. The paper is web-based, allowing individuals to learn and assimilate at their own pace. Teaching materials, assignments and assessments are mostly in a web-based format using the University of Otago's Blackboard platform. The paper is taught over a 20-week period.


    There is no final examination. The final mark is based on assessments during the paper. There is no on-site requirement for this paper.

    • Three assignments (60%)
    • Summary report (15%)
    • Case study (25%)

    The summary report requires students to summarise an existing report completed on an incident. The case study involves students writing their own report on an incident.

    Assignment due dates will be confirmed at the start of the paper but are normally as follows:

    • Assignment 1 due mid-April
    • Assignment 2 due mid-May
    • Assignment 3 due mid-June
    • Summary report due early July
    • Case study due late July
    There are no textbooks recommended for this paper. Most of the material will be accessed from Blackboard. This includes instructions, announcements, text files, exercises and assignments.
    Graduate Attributes Emphasised
    Global perspective, Scholarship, Communication, Critical thinking, Self-motivation.
    View more information about Otago's graduate attributes.
    Learning Outcomes
    Students who successfully complete the paper will
    • Learn of the important properties of chemicals that determine their hazard classification and the concepts, legislative principles and societal issues arising from the use of chemicals and management of chemical hazards
    • Develop the ability to recognise the consequences of chemical hazards, to access and extract relevant information from databases, and to propose alternate strategies for storing and handling hazards and dealing with the public
    • Learn to encourage legal, safety and public awareness attitudes to the handling of chemical hazards
    • Develop a deeper scientific understanding of what constitutes a hazard and of the interactions of a particular hazard with other hazards and the environment and be better prepared to recognise and implement various strategies to resolve risk
    • Be able to place in a modern context the legal, ethical and social concerns arising from the use of chemicals
    Because of the critique and self-learning format, students will be better prepared to recognise and implement a variety of strategies to resolve risk.


    1st Non standard period (27 February 2024 - 31 August 2024)

    Teaching method
    This paper is taught through Distance Learning
    Learning management system
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