Historical exposure to herbicides

Mark Cocker,Chief Executive, WorkSafe Tasmania

WorkSafe Tasmania is working with TasNetworks and the Tasmanian Government to examine former Hydro Electric Commission and Tasmanian State Service employees’ application and use of a certain herbicide for vegetation spraying from the 1960s through to the 1980s.

The substance of concern is 2,3,7,8 – Tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin (TCDD) (also called Dioxin), a contaminant used in the herbicide 2,4,5-T.

It is understood that a number of scientific studies have recognised possible links between high exposure to TCDD and an increased risk of certain cancers, skin conditions and possibly other health effects.

Maximum TCDD levels in both locally manufactured and imported 2,4,5-T started to be regulated in Australia in 1976 and from 1982, products containing 2,4,5-T were withdrawn from the Australian market by manufacturers.

WorkSafe Tasmania is coordinating a central point of contact through our website and helpline relating to the legacy workplace use of 2,4,5-T.

As with all workplace risks, WorkSafe Tasmania can provide information, support and guidance to anyone who thinks they may have been affected by exposure to chemicals including 2,4,5-T.

Current or former employees who may be concerned, or if they are aware of anyone who may fall into this category, are encouraged to visit the WorkSafe Tasmania website in the first instance or phone 1300 366 322.

Tasmania has a strong, effective regulatory framework in place for the regulation of chemicals. WorkSafe Tasmania administers work health and safety legislation which promotes the health and safety of workers and others whilst at work.

Under the work health and safety regulatory framework employers have a responsibility to ensure the health and safety of their workers.

Worksafe Tasmania will continue to monitor the situation and provide information to stakeholders as part of a coordinated response to ensure any affected current or former employee is aware of the support and options available to them.

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