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Workplace exposure standards open for public feedback

Safe Work Australia this month has re-opened public consultation for workplace exposure standards.

Safe Work Australia is reviewing the Workplace exposure standards for airborne contaminants (WES) to ensure they are based on high quality evidence and supported by a rigorous scientific approach.

In March 2020, consultation on the WES was paused due to COVID-19. Comments for the release of the final 168 draft evaluation reports (release 15) have now recommenced via the Workplace exposure standards review on Engage.

The current limits are published in the WES, however, toxicological knowledge and recommendations of airborne hazardous chemicals have advanced significantly since it was first adopted in 1995.

The aim of this review is to develop a list of health-based recommendations for WES in Australia. This includes recommendation on the WES values, notations and the list of chemicals. Recommendations are informed by an evaluation of available information from domestic and international sources, with only publicly available information being used.

The evaluations of individual chemicals commenced in 2018 and continued into 2020. These evaluations include an independent peer review process.

Individual evaluation reports for each chemical are being published in ‘releases’ for public feedback. For more information on the public feedback process, please refer to the Safe Work Australia Engage platform.

All recommendations resulting from this review will be considered by Safe Work Australia members, along with the feedback provided by stakeholders. Safe Work Australia members will then make recommendations to WHS ministers across the country as the relevant decision makers.

Changes to the WES will only become mandatory once adopted in law in the Commonwealth, states and territories. There will be a standard three year transitional period for duty holders to comply with any amendments.

Further information

More information is at