The NICNAS/Industry focus group was developed to review and implement avenues for efficiency measures flowing from re-engineering of new chemicals application processes and the delivery of industry training about notifying new chemicals.

NICNAS met with the industry focus group in August 2005, and in March 2006 conducted a workshop to discuss screening operations and other measures aimed at minimising administrative costs within the NICNAS New Chemicals program. Members from industry attended, providing valuable feedback on the operational requirements for new chemicals assessments.

NICNAS staff presented data on assessment clocks and times and provided an overview of screening processes, the proposed enhanced screening framework, common problems encountered during assessment and a proposed refund policy for withdrawn/returned notifications.

It was agreed a discussion paper scoping the issues and reasons for reform be presented in 2006-07, with the proposed screening and withdrawal framework.

NICNAS has already initiated work to assist industry to enhance its understanding of notification processes and ways to improve submission quality. In collaboration with DEH, NICNAS ran two industry workshops in Melbourne and Sydney aimed at educating industry about New Chemicals and compliance requirements. The training was tailored for both new and regular notifiers, covering how to use the electronic templates and handy hints on how to avoid common assessment problems (hence minimising industry burden when submitting an application).

There was very encouraging feedback about the seminars, which were well received, with one attendee commenting: “(the seminars were) excellent presentations, very knowledgeable presenters”. It is envisaged more tailored training will be delivered in 2006-07.

NICNAS Industry Training participants gained insights to new chemicals and compliance requirements.

During the year, NICNAS published several Notices in the Chemical Gazette containing guidance on low volume exemptions, early listing of assessed chemicals on AICS, self-assessment and permit renewals. An updated self-assessment template for PLC was published on the web, containing additional guidance on how to fill in the template and additional inbuilt guidance comments .

Effectiveness

Chemical notifiers and/or their consultants met with NICNAS staff on 36 separate occasions (compared with 23 last year) throughout the year to take advantage of NICNAS’s free consultancy services. Such consultations are part of our ongoing commitment to improve both the quality of applications and the relationship between NICNAS and our clients, as well as optimising assessment timeframes through the lodgement of more complete notifications.

NICNAS encourages notifiers to meet with staff during the assessment process to discuss issues arising. Numerous other consultations were conducted by telephone or electronically.

Of the applications for certificates received in 2005-06, the assessment commenced on the day of receipt for approximately 27 per cent of non-self-assessed certificate notifications, reflecting either a complete data package or one where only minor deficiencies were identified. Of the remaining applications, the clock was not activated on receipt of application and/or the clock was stopped part way through the assessment process and re-started. Flow-through times, illustrated in Table 9, indicate that the EXT and STD notification categories are the most successful for industry in meeting data requirements, with 45 and 33 per cent respectively, beginning on the date of receipt.

Table 9: Clock start times for assessments – all categories received in 2005-06

Not started

%

Clock started on date of receipt

%

Clock started up to 28 days after date of receipt

%

Clock started between 28 and 90 days after receipt

%

Clock started more than 90 days after date of receipt

%

CEC

19

9

55

13

4

CER

25

50

25

-

-

EIP

14

33

14

29

10

EX

-

45

55

-

-

LTD

17

19

8

30

26

LVC

34

12

31

19

4

LVCR

-

38

62

-

-

PLC

12

28

12

33

14

SANHC

-

-

-

-

-

SANHP

-

100

-

-

-

SAPLC

29

6

15

41

9

SN

-

-

-

-

-

STD

14

33

17

22

14

These data highlight that a major factor in delivery of efficient assessment/regulatory processes for new chemical notifications are poor or incomplete applications by industry.

The assessment of Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) and labels for notified chemicals and the products containing the chemical remain an important part of the assessment process for all categories. In 2005-06, more than 400 MSDS and labels were assessed by NICNAS (about the same as for the previous year) to ensure accurate and relevant information is available to workers, consumers and the community.

No new chemicals assessment decisions were appealed in 2005-06.

Price

Forty-five applications for audited self assessment for polymers of low concern and three self assessment non-hazardous polymer applications were received this financial year demonstrating that industry is taking advantage of the cost savings and reduced time to market (see Table 10). The performance data of DEH in providing environmental assessments for NICNAS are detailed in Appendix 13. In addition, agency cooperation in achieving streamlined processes was included in a NICNAS/DEH workshop offered by NICNAS (see Appendix 13).

NICNAS finalised approximately thirty-eight self-assessment certificate applications in 2005-06.

Fifty-one applications for STD and LTD notifications were submitted using electronic templates in 2005-06. A fee rebate of up to 15 per cent is available to industry for these applications ( see Table 10). Ten permit renewals for LVC and CEC permits were issued in 2005-06, leading to cost savings to industry through lower fees and less c omplex applications.

Table 10: Direct savings to industry in reduced fees from audited self-assessments, template applications and permit renewals

2002-03

2003-04

2004-05

2005-06 (up to quarter 3)

Audited self assessments *

N/A

N/A

$49,000

$65,700

Electronic Templates

$45,000

$65,000

$55,000

$64,000**

Permit Renewals

N/A

N/A

$17,000

$24,750

* In addition to reduced fees, there are savings to industry in having an earlier time to market (28 days instead of 90 days for assessment) which is not estimated in the table.

** Potential savings based on applications received and an average rebate of 10 per cent