This policy sets out schools’ responsibilities for shipping containers on their grounds, including use, legal compliance and possible building permit requirements.
- The Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004 requires the Department, so far as is reasonably practicable, to provide and maintain for employees a working environment that is safe and without risk to health.
- Where risks to peoples’ health and safety are identified, schools must manage these risks before using shipping containers.
- Schools can use shipping containers as sheds or for storage.
- Schools must not use shipping containers as classrooms or teaching spaces.
- Schools must ensure compliance with all relevant building codes, regulations and legislation, including local laws. Schools can contact the Victorian School Building Authority for assistance.
- Schools may require building permits to place shipping containers on their grounds.
- This policy falls within the 'Manage' stage of the School Asset Lifecycle.
The Victorian School Building Authority (VSBA) recognises that some Victorian government schools may choose to use shipping containers as sheds or for storage on school grounds.
The VSBA does not provide or fund shipping containers as part of its school capital programs, or provide additional funding for refurbishing, maintaining, cleaning, relocating, or removing shipping containers.
Schools must not use shipping containers as classrooms or teaching spaces.
Schools must ensure compliance with all relevant building codes, regulations and legislation, including local laws. Schools can contact the VSBA for assistance.
Schools must ensure shipping containers have adequate ventilation. They can have hazardous chemical residues on their surfaces, which can be released into the air, posing a health and safety risk to staff and students. Refer to the Department’s policy on Chemical Management for further advice on hazardous chemicals.
Schools must not store hazardous items, such as cleaning chemicals or fertilisers, in a shipping container.
Schools may require building permits to place shipping containers on their grounds.
If schools use shipping containers as storage or sheds on their grounds, they must consider the class and size of the ‘building’ that a container is classified as under the National Construction This determines if a building permit is required. If there is doubt over the class, a building surveyor must classify the container as belonging to the class it most closely matches. The building surveyor will therefore make the final decision on the class of container, and whether a building permit is required. Schools can contact the VSBA for assistance.
Siting a shipping container
When determining an appropriate location for a shipping container, the VSBA recommends that a school consider how potential sites could be identified for future educational use. Schools should also consider future access requirements for removing or relocating the shipping container.
Schools might take into account siting criteria such as:
- minimising disruption
- proximity to other site infrastructure
- ease of access
- compliance with existing project plans (if applicable)
- student safety and visibility
Health and safety
Before using shipping containers for storage or other purposes, schools must follow the OHS Risk Management Policy for identifying and managing any potential risks to peoples’ health and safety, in consultation with impacted employees and their representatives.
The Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning provides guidance on Shipping container storage in planning
Shipping containers (sometimes called intermodal containers) are large reusable steel boxes designed to house products and raw materials during transit between locations.
Reviewed 25 February 2021