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What laws apply

Find out what your legal obligations are regarding nanotechnology in your place of work.

Does workplace hazardous chemicals legislation apply to engineered nanoparticles?

In some cases engineered nanoparticles or materials are likely to be classified as hazardous chemicals under the Work Health and Safety Act 2011, based on the physicochemical properties of the actual nanomaterial and/or that of the parent materials. Although workplace hazardous chemicals legislation doesn't specifically refer to nanomaterials, it deals with substances classifiedas hazardous chemicals in whatever size, shape or physical state.

If nanomaterials are classified as hazardous chemicals, certain people have workplace obligations including:

  • manufacturers must ensure that, so far as is reasonably practicable, substances are manufactured to be safe if they are used as intended
  • suppliers must ensure that, so far as is reasonably practicable, substances supplied to research laboratories and workplaces are safe if they are used as intended
  • employers must provide and maintain a working environment that is safe
  • workers must follow occupational health and safety requirements to protect their own health and safety, and that of others who may be affected by the work they are doing.