Industrial chemicals play an important role in our modern society. The use of these chemicals contributes to the wellbeing of Australian consumers and underpins Australia’s economic growth. At the same time, their use can also present risks to public health, work health and safety, and the environment.

Risk assessment is an important part of Australia’s national chemical regulatory framework, in which chemicals are regulated according to their use. The National Industrial Chemicals Notification and Assessment Scheme (NICNAS) assesses the risks associated with the industrial use of chemicals and provides information to promote their safe use. NICNAS assessment reports inform the regulatory actions of a range of State, Territory and Commonwealth government agencies who share responsibility for managing chemical safety in Australia. NICNAS risk assessments also inform the general public, workers, employers and non-government organisations about these important issues.

In the 2015-16 Budget, the Australian Government announced reforms to NICNAS that would lead to a more risk-based and proportionate framework to assess industrial chemicals.

The effective implementation of these reforms requires consultation with a wide range of stakeholders.

This second consultation paper on implementing NICNAS reforms takes into account the feedback on issues raised in Consultation Paper 1, which was received from stakeholders in industry and the community, from other Commonwealth agencies, from our international regulatory counterparts, and from our State and Territory regulatory partners.

This paper introduces some important changes to the way in which the reforms to NICNAS are now proposed to be implemented. A number of additional proposals of the reforms that previously have not been detailed at length are also advanced in this paper.

We greatly appreciate the willingness shown by stakeholders to commit time and resources to this consultation process. This commitment will help to deliver better regulatory reform, to the benefit of all Australians.

I encourage you to provide NICNAS with your views on the issues detailed in Consultation Paper 2, and to make the most of this opportunity to influence the development of a reformed industrial chemicals assessment scheme that protects human health and the environment without an undue burden on the regulated industry.

Dr Brian Richards

Director, NICNAS

Last update 17 February 2016