Role and Functions

NICNAS aids in the protection of workers, the public and the environment
from the harmful effects of a wide range of industrial chemicals including
plastics, paints, inks, surface coatings, cosmetics and other consumer
chemicals. NICNAS operates under Australian Government legislation -
the Industrial Chemicals (Notification and Assessment) Act 1989 (the Act).

The Scheme aims to ensure the safe use of chemicals by making risk
assessment and safety information on chemicals and their potential
occupational health and safety (OHS), public health and/or environmental
risks widely available to workers, the public, industry and other state,
territory and Australian Government agencies.

NICNAS assesses industrial chemicals that are new to Australia for their
health and environmental effects before they are used or released to the
environment. NICNAS also assesses those chemicals that are already in use
in Australia (known as Ďexisting chemicalsí) on a priority basis in response
to specific concerns about potential health and/or environmental effects.

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Organisational Structure

NICNAS is a statutory scheme. The Director of NICNAS is a statutory office
holder and has specific functions and powers under the Act. In the exercise
of these functions, the Director is directly responsible to the Minister
through the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Health and Ageing.
NICNAS is located within the Office of Chemical Safety (OCS) in the
Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) Group of Regulators of the
Australian Government Department of Health and Ageing (DoHA).
NICNASís location provides for an ongoing, consistent approach
to the protection of human health from the effects of industrial chemicals.

During 2003-04, NICNAS has continued to build on its team-based
organisational structure within the OCS, further utilising the considerable
synergies collocation with other chemical regulatory functions within DoHA
has brought.

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Co-operative Arrangements

Partnership arrangements with the Australian Government Department
of the Environment and Heritage (DEH) are in place for the provision
of environmental risk assessment (including hazard and exposure) activities,
as well as environmental protection policy input to the scheme.

NICNAS contracted corporate services on a fee-for-service basis from
both TGA and DoHA for 2003-04. In addition, IT and library services were
purchased on a fee-for-service from the National Occupational Health
and Safety Commission (NOHSC).

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Outcome and Output Framework

NICNASís mission is to be recognised as the leading national authority
for the scientific assessment and management of risks to people and the
environment associated with the use of industrial chemicals. NICNAS works
to encourage the safe and sustainable use of industrial chemicals.

NICNAS pursues its goal of safe and sustainable chemical use through
the scientific assessment of chemical risk and by making recommendations
for controlling these risks. NICNAS assessment information is made widely
available and assists state and territory OHS, public health and environmental
agencies in regulating the sale, control of use, release and disposal
of industrial chemicals. NICNAS assessments also provide risk and safety
information to industry, workers and the public to promote greater
awareness of the dangers of chemicals and how to use them safely.

NICNASís activities are presented in Outcome 1 within the DoHA portfolio
budget statement (PBS) outcome/output structure for 2003-04.
The relationship between the NICNAS Outcome and contributing Output
is shown in Figure 1. The performance measures used for accounting
against outputs and outcomes are shown in Table 1.

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Regulatory Framework Linkages

NICNAS is one of the main regulatory assessment and/or registration
schemes for chemicals within the Australian Government. The Scheme
is designed to be complementary to other regulators (food, medicines,
pesticides) and to avoid duplication of assessment and safety regulation.

To avoid duplication of assessment activities, NICNAS has the lead in the
risk assessment for industrial chemicals and provides these assessments
to other Australian Government and state/territory agencies and authorities.
NICNASís assessment partnership with the DEH on environmental issues
allows for efficient policy input and regulatory consideration by the
appropriate authorities for downstream control and regulation of chemicals.

In general, the control of the supply, use and disposal of industrial chemicals
for both industrial and domestic use is a matter for state and territory law.
For worker safety issues, nationally consistent OHS regulations are achieved
through the jurisdictions adopting the NOHSC Model Regulations for the
Control of Workplace Hazardous Substances.

The NOHSC model regulations consist of codes of practice and guidance
notes (e.g. classification, labelling, material safety data sheets (MSDS),
exposure monitoring). NICNAS applies the NOHSC classification, labelling
and MSDS codes to its assessments and recommendations to facilitate a
consistent national approach to achieving safe chemical use. These linkages
on OHS policy and practice were formalised for 2003-04 through a MOU
between NOHSC and the DoHA.

Public health safety for chemicals is achieved, in part, through appropriate
controls via the Standard for the Uniform Scheduling of Drugs and Poisons
(SUSDP). The secretariat of the National Drugs and Poison Schedule
Committee (NDPSC) is also located within the OCS, along with NICNAS,
to further facilitate effective and efficient regulatory processes.



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