Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Chemical Authority (APVMA)
As the national agricultural chemical regulator, the APVMA, is responsible for the approval, regulation and labelling of the chemical preservative compounds used to treat timber. Manufacturers wanting to register chemical treatments must demonstrate their effectiveness and safety.
The EPA is responsible for regulating the wood preservation industry because preservative chemicals can have negative impacts on air, water, land and human health.
The EPA regulates larger wood preservation premises under
- the Protection of the Environment (Operations) Act 1997 (POEO Act)
- the Pesticides Act 1999, because timber preservatives include pesticides
- the Contaminated Land Management Act 1997, due to the past use of certain preservatives and poor operational practices leading to land contamination
Local councils regulate wood preservation activities that treat less than 10,000 cubic metres of timber per year (around two-thirds of all NSW facilities).
The EPA also observes trends in wood preservation industries overseas.
The EPA monitors the safe use of chemicals in timber treatments by
- issuing environment protection licences under the POEO Act and Environmentally Hazardous Chemicals Act
- checking that licensed facilities are operating with the right environmental controls
- reviewing environment protection licences every five years to ensure that they are accurate, consistent with similar licences, and reflect the latest practices and technology
Reviews also contribute to licence variations that improve environmental performance.
Compliance audit program
Like other EPA regulated activities, the wood preservation industry is subject to the EPA’s ongoing compliance audit program. Compliance audits assess a licensed premise's compliance with environmental laws. The audits are usually unannounced and are conducted in accordance with established procedures and protocols.
After the audit, a report is sent to the audited enterprise that provides
- the findings of the audit
- a follow-up action program
Compliance audit reports since 2012 are available on the EPA’s public register. They assist regulation of the industry and are useful for regulators at local councils.
Standards and codes
The Australian Building Codes Board administers the National Construction Code (NCC), which sets technical standards for the correct use of treated timber for construction.
The NCC refers to various Australian Standards to ensure that the timber products used are fit for purpose.
The Australian Standard (AS) 1604 series describes the relevant specifications of preservative treatments for
- sawn and round timber
- engineered wood products such as plywood and LVL
The AS 1605 series describes testing methodologies.
The AS 5605 series provides consumer safety information for the following treated timbers
- AS 5605-1 CCA
- AS 5605-2 ACQ
- AS 5605-3 CA
- AS 5605-4 LOSP
- AS 5605-5 creosote
- AS 5605-6 bifenthrin