Treated timber regulation and standards
There are a number of government agencies and organisations - including EPA - that are responsible for setting standards for timber treatments and monitoring and regulating the wood preservation industry.
Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Chemical Authority (APVMA)
The national agricultural chemical regulator, the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Chemical Authority (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.
Australian Building Codes Board
The correct use of treated timber for construction is mostly governed by the National Construction Code (NCC).
The NCC makes reference 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, as well as various engineered wood products such as plywood and LVL.
The AS 1605 series describes testing methodologies and the AS 5605 series provides consumer safety information for different kinds of treated timbers: AS 5605-1 CCA, AS 5605-2 ACQ, AS 5605-3 CA, AS 5605-4 LOSP, AS 5605-5 creosote and AS 5605-6 bifenthrin.
The NSW EPA monitors the wood preservation industry because of a range of environmental issues relating to air, water and land, and because preservative chemicals potentially have a high environmental sensitivity.
The NSW EPA regulates larger wood preservation premises under the Protection of the Environment (Operations) Act 1997 (POEO Act) by issuing environment protection licences and carrying out a range of checks to make sure licensed facilities operate with the right environmental controls. Local councils regulate wood preservation activities that treat less than 10,000 cubic metres of timber per year.
The EPA also regulates pesticide use (including wood preservatives) in NSW under the Pesticides Act 1999.
The use of some preservatives in the past, and poor operational practices leading to land contamination means that the EPA also regulates some wood preservation facilities under the Contaminated Land Management Act 1997.
As set out in Section 78 of the POEO Act, the EPA reviews environment protection licences every five years. These reviews are aimed at ensuring the accuracy of licences and their consistency with similar licences and industries. The reviews also contribute to licence variations that result in improvements to industry environmental performance.
The NSW EPA also observes trends in wood preservation industries overseas.
Reports on the EPA’s interaction with the timber preserving industry can be found in the resources section.
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.
The findings of each audit and a follow-up action program based on the audit findings are reported in a compliance audit report sent to the audited enterprise. These are available on the EPA’s public register for audits conducted since 2012. They assist regulation of the industry and are useful to local councils who regulate about two-thirds of the wood preservation facilities in NSW.
EPA follows up with each audited premises to ensure that any actions identified by the audits are carried out.
Page last updated: 12 May 2016