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What is a Certified Handler?

What is a Certified Handler?

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A Certified Handler is someone who has been assessed and deemed competent to manage and 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 Handlers used to be known as Approved Handlers under the Hazardous Substances and New Organisms Act, but this was changed since the new Hazardous Substances Regulations came into force on 1 December 2017.

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). 

These certificates are valid for five years and are issued by Compliance Certifiers. Rifft Solutions has partnered with reputable certifiers to assist individuals with achieving their Certified Handler certification.

Certified Handlers

Being a Certified Handler qualifies you to handle very hazardous substances safely and to provide guidance and assistance to other people handling the substances. Rifft Solutions offers this service to all our clients. There are two types of applications – Agrichemical Certified Handler or Non-agrichemical Certified Handler You can read more about the different types by clicking on the application form below:


Certified Handler – Agrichemicals Application Checklist – Agrichemical

Certified Handler – Industrial Chemicals Application Checklist – Non-Agrichemical

WorkSafe has an online hazardous substances calculator that can check whether you need to become a Certified Handler.

How do I become a Certified Handler?

Put simply, 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.

The relevant legislation that can provide further detail can be found in Part 4 of the Health and Safety at Work (Hazardous Substances) Regulations 2017.

Proving your competency

As a part of the process, the Compliance Certifier will need evidence that describes how your knowledge and skills were assessed. This evidence can be obtained from a relevant training course that must be signed by the trainer issuing the qualification or your work supervisor if you’ve been trained on the job.

Application fee

Depending on the certifier, the fees may vary, however Rifft Solutions has partnered with reputable Compliance Certifiers to provide this service at a very economical rate for one or more applicants.   

Renewing your certificate

The certificate must be renewed every five years. If it has expired or lapsed, you cannot continue to work as a certified handler, or purchase hazardous substances that require a certified handler. There is also a high risk that your workplace may be fined if there are no valid Certified Handlers available on site. Rifft Solutions can remind you when it is time to renew your certification.

Frequently Asked Questions:

Can hazardous substances be handled by someone other than the Certified Handler?

No. but they can be under supervision 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.

Do we need a Certified Handler when transporting dangerous goods?

Depending on the substance, you may or may not need it. For example, a certified handler is always required for transporting explosives.

If you are transporting dangerous goods on the road, the driver must have 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

You can read more information here: https://rifftsolutions.co.nz/certified-handlers/

If you get stuck or need some help please do not hesitate to get in touch 0800 474 338 or email hello@rifft.co.nz

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