With more research continually developing our understanding of airborne hazardous chemicals and their implications to human health, the need for up to date workplace exposure standards in Australia is imperative.
Our client - Safe Work Australia - engaged WSP to evaluate the workplace exposure standards (WES) for airborne contaminants to ensure they are based on the highest quality, contemporary toxicology evidence and are justified by rigorous scientific approach.
On behalf of Safe Work Australia, we produced draft evaluation reports and recommendations with each evaluation providing:
- a recommended measurable value (mg/m3 / ppm / fibre/mL)
- recommendations on skin, carcinogenicity and sensitisation notations
- information regarding the basis of the recommendation, and
- a summary of the data relied upon to make the recommendation.
Improving Safety through Standards
With the project commencing in April 2019, we worked in collaboration with our global Toxicology experts in Canada and assembled our largest team of Occupational Hygiene, Toxicology & Chemical Specialists from across Australia to review 727 chemicals.
To ensure the recommendations are precise, our team applied the published Safe Work Australia methodology and compared all chemicals against primary sources of exposure standards in both Europe and the USA before cross-referencing those standards against secondary sources to further validate our recommendations.
Each draft evaluation report has a health-based recommendation developed for Safe Work Australia, with each report then being independently peer reviewed.
Specifically, we were looking to define each chemical under the methodology requirements to determine three main parameters:
- If the critical effect is a chronic or sub-chronic effect, then recommend an eight-hour time-weighted average
- If the critical effect is a short-term or acute effect, recommend a short-term exposure limit
- If the critical effect is a short-term or acute effect, recommend peak limitation
The evaluation reports prepared by WSP are being released progressively by Safe Work Australia for public and industry consultation.
With compounding amounts of data to sift through, accurate and reliable documentation needs to be concise. To effectively achieve this, our team worked closely with the client to setup a two-way communication stream for information sharing with both practical and technical knowledge exchange, creating transparency across all matters and reviews, and building efficiency through open conversation.
We further implemented data mining programs to assist with the initial information searches and also set up robust data storage systems that could be accessible by multiple users across various locations.
By conducting these toxicology reviews efficiently and complying with tight deadlines, we supported the process for Safe Work Australia by providing it with health-based recommendations in a timely manner to improve work health and safety.