by Laura Whiteman
Written 18th November 2019
The decision regulation impact statement (RIS) for Workplace exposure standards in Australia was released by Safework Australia on 11th November 2019. This decision RIS is the final stage in the consultation process, and provides a recommendation to the relevant Work Health and Safety (WHS) Ministers for the preferred option for updating Australia’s Model WHS laws. Providing a majority of Ministers agree to the recommended option, the model WHS Regulations will then be amended to reflect the actions under the preferred option.
Industry was invited to comment during the consultation period, as well as regulators, government and other interested parties. In the original consultation document, three options were put forward.
- Maintain the status quo – which would include continuing the current practice of updating workplace exposure standards individually as needed
- Maintain mandatory workplace exposure standards and update the workplace exposure standards using a streamlined methodology – this allows for chemicals to be added and removed as needed
- Make the workplace exposure standards advisory and update the workplace exposure standards using a streamlined methodology – this allows for chemicals to be added and removed as needed
From the feedback received, Option 2 was the preference, with a 3 year transition period. This provided the greatest net benefit to businesses and the community overall. It has also been recommended that the phrase “workplace exposure standards” be changed to “workplace exposure limits.” Safework Australia has indicated that guidance and education will be key to effectively implement this change and improve compliance.
Recommended Action Items:
- Review your current workplace exposure standards against the current workplace exposure standards review. These are being released alphabetically throughout 2019 and 2020
- Ensure all your labelling, SDS and risk assessments have been updated with the new workplace exposure limits once the model WHS Regulations have been updated, and the current workplace exposure standards have been updated.
- Duty holders should review their current hierarchy of controls. This includes:
- Substituting the hazard with something safer
- Isolating the hazard from people
- Using engineering controls
- Using administrative controls
- Using personal protective equipment
- Consultation regulation impact statement: Workplace exposure standards. https://www.safeworkaustralia.gov.au/doc/consultation-ris-workplace-exposure-standards.
- Decision regulation impact statement: Workplace exposure standards framework under the model Work Health and Safety laws. https://www.safeworkaustralia.gov.au//doc/decision-regulation-impact-statement-workplace-exposure-standards-framework-under-model-work
- Release schedule for review of workplace exposure standards. https://www.safeworkaustralia.gov.au/release-schedule-review-workplace-exposure-standards.
- Workplace exposure standards
- Work Health and Safety
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