eFlash #513

eFlash #513

eFlash #513
Date: 24-Nov-2021

In this edition: qldwater  Membership Update| Safe Work Australia – Workplace Exposure Standards| Levels of Service Case Studies IIMM| Water Quality Advisory Committee – Expressions of Interest 

1. qldwater Membership Update

qldwater is proud to announce we’ve had 100% qldwater membership renewals for 2021/22 with 72 full members and 23 affiliates.

While strong membership obviously helps the Directorate’s financial security, this voluntary response is fantastic for a not-for-profit organisation and particularly important in supporting our advocacy to government on behalf of the sector.

Thanks to all for your continued support of this critical industry initiative

If you are interested in becoming an Affiliate Member please email Naomi Carragher at ncarragher@qldwater.com.au

2. Safe Work Australia – Workplace Exposure Standards

Safe Work Australia commenced a process some time ago to review a number of “Workplace Exposure Standards.” The major concern is around management of hydrogen sulfide, with the draft standard proposing the reduction of the current 8hr TWA/STEL concentrations of 10ppm/15ppm to 1ppm/5ppm.* 

*TWA = 8 hour time-weighted average – the maximum average airborne concentration of a substance when calculated over an 8-hour working day, for a five-day working week 

STEL = time-weighted average maximum airborne concentration of a substance when calculated over a 15 minute period

Key actions since the last update:

  • Some members have been able to provide basic monitoring data and a response to a short survey generated on past worker experience with exposure. There were some isolated short term exposure incidents reported across all utilities surveyed nationally, but no evidence of long term health impacts. 
  • The contractor engaged by WSAA (Stantec) has completed its review of available data and the research underpinning the original Worksafe Australia work to develop the draft exposure standards. It has found significant concerns with the process.
  • State-based advocacy remains important and qldwater continues to work with LGAQ in conversations with our regulatory and funding agencies. WHSQ has conducted a site visit with Unitywater in the last week to better understand H2S sources and work practices around them.
  • It is hoped the national Office of Best Practice Regulation will require Safe Work Australia to conduct a new Regulatory Impact Statement process as well, to be transparent about the implications to our industry, for a select list of chemicals.
  • The utilities participating in the WSAA taskforce have resolved in favour this approach. It is believed that the costs to the water industry to address hydrogen sulfide alone will exceed the estimates for all chemicals reviewed in the original RIS across all industries. Chlorine has also been identified as a key chemical of concern with significant reductions in exposure limits, but there has not been time to effectively evaluate impacts.

If you had intended to send any data or other information through but missed the deadline, please still submit when you are able. Information from a diverse range of businesses can only help the case and in extrapolating information for state-wide impacts.

3. Levels of Service Case Studies IIMM

As you would be aware, the regulatory requirements for the development of Customer Service Standards or Customer Service Charters are either contained in the Water Supply (Safety and Reliability) Act or South East Queensland customer water and wastewater code.

In addition, we have been informed the International Infrastructure Management Manual (IIMM) now has a rolling program of review.  The project team is seeking Case Studies from any Queensland water service provider for the Levels of Service chapter.  Key areas of focus are:

  • Levels of Service Framework
  • Developing measures and targets
  • Evaluating service level options
  • Customer and stakeholder engagement methods, and/or
  • Any other related matter pertaining to Levels of Service for the water sector

If you are keen to share your ‘before and after’ story, please contact dcameron@qldwater.com.au and we’ll put you in touch with the IPWEA representative, noting they will need a draft outline before Christmas. 

Note, there is a free IIMM Information Session focussed on Water Sector Reforms scheduled for 30 Nov.

Details can be found by clicking here.

As always, qldwater is interested in any general comments about your recent CSS reviews and the level of IIMM utilisation in your business.

4. Water Quality Advisory Committee – Expressions of Interest

NHMRC is seeking experts to join the Water Quality Advisory Committee. The role of the committee is to advise on water-related public health issues as requested by NHMRC, in particular priorities and quality of the evidence to inform the rolling review of the Australian Drinking Water Guidelines.

The members of the Committee will be appointed based on their recognised expertise in one or more of the following fields: public health, evidence translation and methodology, guideline development, epidemiology, microbiology, toxicology, water chemistry, water recycling, surface water hydrology, groundwater hydrology, water quality risk assessment and risk management, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health and consumer representation.

Information about the Committee and expression of interest process is available onNHMRC's website.

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