About the NICNAS reforms

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The Australian Government has decided to reform the National Industrial Chemicals Notification and Assessment Scheme (NICNAS) to:

  • make regulatory effort more proportionate to risk
  • promote safer innovation by encouraging the introduction of lower risk chemicals
  • continue to protect the Australian people (both workers and the public) and the environment from any harmful effects of industrial chemicals.

As part of the 2015-16 Budget, the Australian Government announced a range of reforms to the regulation of industrial chemicals. The goal is that the assessment effort would better reflect the risks posed by industrial chemicals, while maintaining Australia’s robust health and safety standards. The reforms would include:

  • rebalancing pre-and post-introduction regulatory requirements to match the indicative risk profile of a new chemical
  • streamlining the current risk assessment process for new and existing industrial chemicals
  • greater use of international assessment materials
  • more appropriate monitoring and compliance tools.

An important benefit of re-directing regulatory effort towards chemicals with a higher risk profile is that there will be reduced costs to businesses and consumers using lower risk chemicals. Industry utilising Exempted and Reported introduction categories will benefit from reduced direct costs (i.e. no notification fees) and reductions in the time taken to introduce the chemicals to market (i.e. no imposed assessment time frame), when compared to the current scheme.

The faster regulatory pathway to introduce lower risk chemicals is an incentive to introduce safer new industrial chemicals, including replacing more hazardous existing chemicals. Although there will be less emphasis on pre-introduction assessment of lower risk new chemicals, more focus on post-introduction assessment and monitoring will help maintain the protection of health and safety of the public, workers and the environment.

Because of the reforms, the number of industrial chemicals subject to a pre-introduction assessment by us is expected to decrease by over 70%, with pre-introduction assessments dropping from around 3% of all new chemicals to 0.3%.

The reforms also improve protections for the public, workers, and the environment from higher risk chemicals by giving us the ability to impose conditions of introduction on higher risk chemicals. If risk managers cannot manage an identified risk, the Executive Director could refuse to allow introduction of the chemical or stop its introduction. Improved monitoring and compliance powers will help us better identify and manage non-compliance to maintain current levels of health and environmental protection.

Next - Development of reforms implementation detail

Last update 29 July 2018