Certified Handler Compliance Certificate

Who should do this course?

Certified handler is a HSW Act control specific to some classes of products. A certified handler is someone qualified to handle very toxic substances. A certified handler may also provide guidance and assistance to other people handling the substances. You need to be a certified handler if you want to purchase or use tracked agrichemicals with hazard classifications of Acute toxicity category 1 or 2 (HSNO classes 6.1A or 6.1B).

Certified handler is not a replacement for a Growsafe certificate but better thought of as an add-on. If you use agrichemicals, it is likely that you will still need a Growsafe Standard certificate to meet EPA, regional council or quality assurance scheme requirements.

Note: this is not a Growsafe certificate - it is issued by compliance certifiers authorised by WorkSafe.

? Before progressing with certified hander, you may wish to consider whether there are alternatives to handling or storing these highly toxic agrichemicals:
  • Are there alternative products that are effective but less toxic?
  • Could you get a contractor to apply the product for you?
  • If you already use a contractor, can you get the contractor to supply the product so you don't have to store it before use, or store/dispose of any remaining product?

What are the responsibilities of a certified handler?

In addition to being competent to handle and use hazardous agrichemicals yourself, you must:

  • Demonstrate in-depth knowledge about the product being used and have received training in its use, including information about its risks, any controls on its use and management of any emergency involving the product.
  • Be available and provide advice and guidance to others using these agrichemicals who are not certified handlers. This means that you must:
    • remain on the property (you don't need to remain at the actual site of the spraying)
    • be available at all times to assist while the person is handling the substance.
    • provide guidance to the user on the agrichemical's use, handling, disposal, and application area, before spraying starts.
More information can be found in WorkSafe’s Quick Guide to Certified handler requirements.

Process to achieve certified handler

A number of Growsafe trainers are also compliance certifiers and therefore able to issue you with a certified handler certificate. Individual compliance certifiers are responsible for making their own decisions on the competency of an individual. As a result, there is not a single standard process for obtaining a certified handler certificate.

However, this is the usual process:
  1. Gain or renew your Growsafe Standard certificate
  2. Choose a compliance certifier (see table below for a list of Growsafe trainers who are also compliance certifiers)
  3. Contact the compliance certifier to discuss your requirements, complete their application form and pay any fees. As part of this you may be required to provide evidence of your use of Acute toxicity category 1 or 2 (HSNO classes 6.1A or 6.1B) products. If you do not currently use any of these products, you will have to provide evidence of likely use in the future ie prove that you need the certified handler certificate
  4. You may be required to undertake some additional training, depending on the certifier. We suggest that you check the additional training is agrichemical specific rather than a general hazardous substances course.
  5. Complete a knowledge assessment (test). This is set by the compliance certifier so will vary depending on your choice of certifier.
  6. Upload evidence of good practice. The list of requirements will be set by the compliance certifier but will include documents such as tracking records and photos of your agrichemical store and PPE.
  7. Your assessment and evidence will be reviewed by a compliance certifier who may:
    • Approve your application if everything is satisfactory; or
    • Ask for additional information; or
    • Arrange a phone or video call with you or your employer, if the compliance certifier has any questions about your assessment or evidence; or
    • Arrange a visit to your workplace (some compliance certifiers always require a site visit, others will consider whether the other evidence provided is sufficient. There is likely to be an extra charge for this).
  8. Decision by compliance certifier.

Getting started

If you want to gain the certified handler certificate, then you will need to ensure that you have good processes and procedures in place. Your compliance certifier will give you full details of what is required, but you can get started by doing our free online Certified handler: Preparation course which will take you through some key information and also help you put together the information that your compliance certifier will want to see, such as:
  • inventory of hazardous substances
  • tracking sheets
  • a copy of the SDS for each product (no more than 5 years old)
  • photos of your agrichemical store showing it is compliant (use this checklist to get started)
  • spray diaries
  • an emergency response plan and evidence it has been tested in the last year.
You may also want to do some refresher training such as our Standard: Online renewal course to help your through the written assessment process.

Growsafe trainers who are also compliance certifiers

The information below is provided to help you make a decision on which compliance certifier to contact. We encourage you to ring more than one and check their requirements. For a full list of compliance certifiers, see the WorkSafe register.

Name Organisation Home location Contact details Website Is additional training required in addition to Growsafe Standard? Is a site visit required? Price
Andrew Saunders Vertical Horizonz Group Whangarei 021 848 238
www.verticalhorizonz.com Requires Vertical Horizonz's online course called Knowledge required of a certified handler  No, unless evidence provided indicates significant concerns that cannot be resolved through phone or video calls $390 + GST for course and certificate (unless additional assistance is required to met compliance requirements)
Dean Bowden Sprayschool Wellington 021 999 198
Not available Depends on quantity of highly toxic agrichemicals used and whether recent relevant training has been undertaken. Depends - may not be required for small volumes, talk with the compliance certifier Price on application
Murray Beare

Grant Beare

Paul Marlow
Educhem Auckland South 0800 EDUCHEM
www.educhem.co.nz Yes, face-to-face course required (8:30 - 2:30) Yes, unless individual is already known to the compliance certifier $795 (GST?) for course and certificate (but may vary depending on requirements and number of people per workplace - contact Educhem for details)
Shane Harris Harris Training Services Ltd Nelson and Marlborough 0274 574 775 (Shane)
03 544 4062 (office)
www.harristraining.co.nz Depends on the evidence of other relevant training and qualifications supplied with the application, the types and quantities of substances used, stored or purchased by the applicant Yes, unless individual is already known to the compliance certifier or a recent external audit is deemed sufficient independent evidence. Can also depend on the type and quantities of substances used, stored or purchased by the applicant. $400 + GST
Additional charges may apply for site visits if required, related travel and follow up queries after the application is assessed.
Chris Gribben and Tara McLeod NZ Sports Turf Institute Auckland South 06 356 8090
www.nzsti.org.nz No No, unless evidence provided indicates significant concerns that cannot be resolved through phone or video calls. Must be available for phone or video call Price on application
Note: we try to ensure that the information in this table is correct and up-to-date but things change. You should check details with the compliance certifier.

Previously called Approved Handler

Certified handler replaced the approved handler scheme from 1 December 2017. Under transition arrangements, approved handler certificates are valid as certified handler certificates until they expire. Note that labels will continue to say approved handler until they are updated - this will take some years. 

Prior to 1 December 2017, other hazard classes including 6.1C (toxic), 6.7A (carcinogenic) and 8.2A (skin corrosive) and wide dispersive use of highly ecotoxic products also required approved handler certification. There are now different training and certification requirements for the use of the products previously covered by approved handler certification.  Whilst fewer people need the certified handler, the level of competency required is higher.