The reassessment process

There's a two-step process for reassessing hazardous substances.

The Hazardous Substances and New Organisms (HSNO) Act outlines a process for reassessing hazardous chemicals that must be followed by the EPA or any other party who applies for a reassessment.

Most reassessments will follow the process described here. Sometimes, chemicals could be reviewed by other mechanisms, such as by amendments to Group Standards.

Step one: grounds

A formal application needs to be made to establish if there are legal grounds to reassess the chemical.

An applicant may show that there are grounds because:

  • there is significant new information about the effects of the chemical
  • there has been a significant change in the chemical's use and quantity
  • there is an alternative
  • or as a consequence of changes to the Health and Safety at Work Act.

Making a decision on an application for grounds

The information we receive, as well as our own research, is used to decide if there are grounds to reassess. The decision is made by a sub-group of our HSNO Committee. If they decide that grounds do exist, then a reassessment can be undertaken.

Who is on the decision-making committee

Step two: reassessment

Step two requires a separate application which can only progress if grounds have been established as per step one. Anyone can apply for the reassessment to progress through this step – it doesn't have to be the same applicant that applied to establish grounds. Information supporting the reassessment and any changes being proposed must be provided as part of the application.

The reassessment considers issues such as:

  • manufacture and import volumes
  • use and application information
  • environmental exposure mitigation measures
  • scientific and technical information
  • cultural impacts
  • the existence of alternatives.

People generally have the opportunity to provide information by making a submission on reassessment applications, and this is encouraged to get a better picture of the chemical and its uses. Some reassessments may include a public hearing.

The reassessment decision

The decision about the reassessment is made by a sub-group of our HSNO Decision-making Committee.

The Committee may decide to:

  • make no change to the existing approval
  • increase or change the controls, or rules, around the chemical's use
  • revoke the existing approval - that is, ban its use.

Process timeline

The timeline for each reassessment varies depending on its complexity. There are specific steps and timeframes that must be followed, which are outlined in the HSNO Act, but each reassessment is considered on a case by case basis.