New Zealand Workplaces are not Nanosafe
Workers are more likely to be exposed to nanoparticles, which is why nanomaterials were rated in 2009 as the top emerging workplace risk in Europe.
In New Zealand, a 2011 report commissioned by Government found that our health and safety laws provide little or no protection for workers. (Those findings are summarised in this article in the New Zealand Journal of Employment Relations)
Yet Government has thus far taken no action to make workplaces nanosafe.
Carbon nanotubes are an example of the urgent need to regulate nanoparticles.
In 2008, the first findings emerged indicating that some carbon nanotubes are similar in form to asbestos fibres and may cause similar damage and disease to the lungs when lodged there. Since then, a host of other research has confirmed this and Safe Work Australia has recommended that carbon nanotubes be classed as hazardous substances.
It is likely that products containing nanotubes are already making their way into manufacturing but government agencies have no oversight of these.
The Sustainability Council is looking to the Independent Taskforce on Workplace Health and Safety to set out the need to safeguard workers from the risks arising from nanoparticles (Read the Council’s submission).
- Nanomaterials – Are we looking at the next Asbestos? Industrial Safety News
- Letter from Sustainability Council and CTU to the Department of Labour, 2010