Scientific evaluation of workplace exposure standards

Safe Work Australia has announced it will evaluate the workplace exposure standards for more than 600 chemicals to ensure worker health and safety in Australia is comparable with latest evidence and international best practice.

Exposure standards are specified in the model Work Health and Safety Regulations as mandatory legal limits to assist in protecting the health of workers and minimise exposure to airborne contaminants in the workplace.

Exposure standards aim to minimise the risk of adverse health effects by establishing precise targets for businesses to follow.

Safe Work Australia has engaged Golder Associates Pty Ltd to undertake an evaluation of Australia’s list of 644 workplace exposure standards, including a review of current scientific data for each chemical.

The evaluation follows a public consultation process held by Safe Work Australia late last year, examining the role and use of exposure standards and how they could be effectively reviewed and maintained.

This process noted that many of Australia’s workplace exposure standards are out of date and there was support for mandating a smaller number of exposure standards on the basis of risk. In addition, many submissions suggested the need to streamline the list of exposure standards and to update the standards to reflect current knowledge of health effects.

Public consultation sessions will also be held and members of the public are invited to subscribe to the ‘Chemical exposure standards’ mailing list on the Safe Work Australia website.

For more information visit the Workplace Exposure Standards page on the Safe Work Australia website.

Source: Safe Work Australia, September 2016