The use of herbicide is regulated by the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority (APVMA). Information on the safe use of herbicides is available on the APVMA website (external link).
Glyphosate has the highest worldwide production volume of all herbicides and is widely used in agriculture and domestically. In 2017, the APVMA reported that products containing glyphosate are safe using appropriate chemical handling measures.
Safe use, handling and storage of chemicals
If you use chemicals in your workplace, the codes of practice linked below will guide you on how to safely manage risks to health and safety:
Historical herbicide exposures
The substance of concern is the dioxin 2,3,7,8-Tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin (TCDD), a contaminant in the herbicide 2,4,5-T.
2,4,5-T is a herbicide that was used for vegetation clearance during the 1960s and 1970s.
It is possible that Hydro Electric Commission (HEC), Tasmanian State Service (TSS) employees and other workers may have been exposed to 2,4,5-T, during the 1970s and 1980s, that contained TCDD levels that are no longer considered acceptable.
The levels of TCDD used in 2,4,5-T was regulated in 1976, so the likelihood of employees having been exposed to 2,4,5-T that contained potentially high levels of TCDD reduces after that date.
Health concerns about the herbicide
2,4,5-T is a herbicide used for vegetation clearance during the 1960s and 1970s. A substance that was present in the formulations of 2,4,5-T used at the time is the dioxin known as TCDD.
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.
What is the risk of exposure to 2,4,5-T and cancer?
We understand that people will be looking for a definite link between 2,4,5-T and cancers and other illnesses relating to family, friends and work colleagues.
The likelihood of employees having been exposed to 2,4,5-T that contained potentially high levels of TCDD reduces after 1976 as maximum TCDD levels in both locally manufactured and imported 2,4,5-T started to be regulated in Australia.
What if I worked with herbicides and have concerns about my health?
We encourage anyone who may be concerned to read the information here in the first instance and if you have concerns call WorkSafe Tasmania on 1300 366 322.
Current herbicide use
Is 2,4,5-T still used?
The chemical 2,4,5-T is not used. It was withdrawn for use in Australia in the late 1980s and is no longer approved for use or marketed in Australia.
Are there concerns about current chemical use and practices in Tasmania?
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 employees and other people at work and imposes duties to ensure this. Under the regulatory framework, employers have a duty to ensure the health and safety of their workers and others within the workplace.
The Workers Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 1988 establishes the rules for claiming workers compensation.
An entitlement to workers compensation depends on a number of factors:
- when you were incapacitated by or diagnosed with the injury/illness. Normally a workers compensation claim needs to be made within 6 months of when you were incapacitated by or diagnosed with the injury/illness
- whether you still work for the employer where you were exposed. Normally a workers compensation claims needs to be made before you voluntarily leave the employment
- your age. Normally once you reach the pension age, you are not entitled to workers compensation.
A person is entitled to workers compensation if they have been injured at work or if they suffer a disease that work has contributed to by a substantial degree.
See more information about the workers compensation claim process.