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PUN016 Risk Assessment

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PUN016 Risk Assessment

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Course Code: PUN016
University: Monash University is not sponsored or endorsed by this college or university

Country: Australia


·Queensland Health investigated a possible cancer cluster at Atherton Fire Station in 2008. An elevated incidence of malignant brain cancer was found but no cause was identified.
Queensland Fire and Rescue Service (QFRS) formed a working party to further investigate the issue. Queensland Health was represented on that group.
Monash Centre for Occupational and Environmental Health was commissioned to undertake a study of cancer incidence among Queensland Firefighters. A report on the outcome of that study is attached.


A group of 6964 male and 540 female firefighters who were identified as ever active firefighters, full time or auxiliary, between 1995 and 2006 were studied.
The study looked at overall cancer incidence, and specific cancers identified from the literature as having a good or reasonable association with fire fighting.
The study found no elevated incidence of cancer overall, and no significant increase in any specific cancer.
The number of firefighters in the study was too small to enable meaningful analysis of the incidence of some cancers.
At this stage there is no indication that Queensland Health should revise its assessment of the cancer risks to firefighters. However, further investigation into this matter by QFRS is likely.


Queensland Fire and Rescue Service commissioned the study.
Queensland Fire and Rescue Service Cancer Registry Linkage Working Party members: United Firefighters Union, Queensland Cancer Registry, Department of Employment and Industrial Relations.


Occupational Risk Assessment is an essential procedure in an organization’s functioning that assesses the estimates the possible health risks that the workers or employees are exposed to, in the process of carrying out organizational duties (Aven, 2016). The measurement of possible exposure to hazard in a workplace setting can be beneficial to identify the particular elements that need to be eliminated in order to minimize threat to health and environment. Exposure to hazardous elements like poisonous chemicals can pose serious health risks to workers, who come in direct contact with them every day. Since the Company is considering introducing the use of formaldehyde, a toxic chemical, in an occupational setting, it is vital that the organization runs a detailed Occupational Risk Assessment in order to minimize and control environmental health risks.
Risk Assessment of an organization aims to interpret and analyze the consequences that might or might not take place, and if they do, how to best control the situation (Lundgren &McMakin, 2018). It directly addresses the various risks that pose threat to the environmental and identifies them individually; it compares and provides an estimate as to how probable it is to be adverse-affecting for the environment and health, and it also explores the various consequences of such effects, in order to prepare the Company for the tougher times.  
As per our chosen organization, the primary health hazard risk has been already identified as the introduction of formaldehyde in an occupational setting. The next step of the procedure would be to assess the amount of exposure that the workers come in contact with the identified chemical. Thirdly, it is important to note and measure the receiver’s response to the exposure to the chemical—based on which we can explore the exposure-response relationship(MacGregor et al. 2015). Finally, the assessment process comes to an end with characterization of the workplace risk—based on which various steps would be taken in order to control or minimize the risk in question.
Key Findings
The key findings of the conducted Occupational Risk Assessment are briefly explained below.
In order to gather sufficient information about the chemical’s nature and toxicity, the following details have been used:
Chief Uses of Formaldehyde: Formaldehyde, as reported by the NICNAS report, has a large and widespread use, over various different industries and workplaces. The most frequent use of the chemical is in the production of adhesives that are used to make pressed woods products(Özbay&Ayrilmis, 2015). It is also used in medical laboratories, where the chemical is useful for fixing tissues and organs; the chemical is naturally produced during the burning process of any organic matter. Formaldehyde can also be found in low concentration in various personal care products, cigarettes, cooking appliances and more.
Effects of Formaldehyde on Human Health and Environment: Formaldehyde is a toxic chemical and can have adverse effects, when comes in contact with skin, or inhaled, swallowed or consumed in any other way. It causes a range of nervous and sensory disturbances at the first contact—for example, a burning sensation, irritation, stinging or itching. In case of inhaling formaldehyde vapor, a person can have blocked sinus, runny nose, teary eyes or a sore throat (Tang et al., 2015).
Being an inflammatory gas, formaldehyde is highly volatile and reactive, and can cause explosive mixtures in the atmosphere (?apka, Ve?e?a, Mikuška, Šesták, Kahle & Bumbová 2015). With the least bit of exposure to heat, it can present with a sudden fire hazard. However, the risk is always greater with more concentrated levels of formaldehyde than the diluted forms, which can be risky only when in direct contact with skin.
Apart from that, there are very few chemicals with which formaldehyde is compatible, therefore posing a high amount of risk of reacting violently with some chemical, for example: strong oxidizers.
Implications and Recommendations
Conducting appropriate Risk Assessment programs is extremely necessary for decision-making processes in business organizations or enterprises. In the given context, our Company is considering introducing formaldehyde in its occupational spaces. Proper risk assessment programs would include identification of the nature of the toxic substance, assessing the probable risks that it poses to the health and environment of workers, and most importantly, estimating the consequences of hazard, so that the given organization can be prepare to control the damages.
According to the SSR (Supervising Scientist Report), it is a complex procedure to calculate and estimate the risk factors, especially when it comes to chemicals (Schultz et al. 2015). Often extensive field experiments also fail to comprehend the possible threats that it pose. The report suggests innovation in the process of assessment using computer modeling that can be relatively connected with the results achieved from the field experiments. An integrated approach to analyze and identify the risk factors may be useful, in case of chemical hazards.
Formaldehyde is used in the manufacture of resin, therefore potential laborers for manufacturing firms have been found affected with specific sensory and nervous issues like sensory irritation. Australia has a major section of the population vested in jobs in pathology laboratory, hospital/mortuary work and with the sharp inequality rooted amongst the various classes of the society makes it a social issue or workplace hazard that is being close-bound amongst the lower economic classes (Driscoll et al., 2015).
Finally, the Company is highly recommended to register with NICNAS (National Industrial Chemicals Notification), who is in charge of the regulation of all industrial chemicals, in Australia (Johns, Cooper, Galizia & Meeker 2015). The list of chemicals that are legal in the country have been identified with the Australian Inventory of Chemical Substances and in case of a chemical outside the list, it is registered under new industrial chemicals, and all new chemicals must be scientifically appraise by NICNAS before being put into production or recreational use.

Company registration with NICNAS for introduction of Formaldehyde in an occupational workspace.

Background Summary

Formaldehyde is a colorless, flammable gas, which is used in water-base solutions for various purposes (?apka et al. 2015).
It is toxic in concentrated form and can cause adverse effects when in contact with skin, consumed, swallowed or inhaled.
Occupational Risk Assessment is an essential procedure in an organization’s functioning that assesses the possible health risks (MacGregor et al. 2015).


Formaldehyde can have adverse effects, when in contact with skin, or inhaled or swallowed (Schultz et al. 2015).
As an inflammatory gas, formaldehyde is highly volatile and can cause explosive mixtures in the air, starting a fire hazard (Johns et al. 2015).
Formaldehyde is compatible with very few chemicals, thus posing a constant threat, especially when in contact with strong oxidizers (Wang & He 2017).


The chief stakeholders in this process would be the ground-level workers, who would have to be in direct contact with the chemical.
The NICNAS is another chief stakeholder as the regulator of all industrial chemicals in Australia.
The Company market holders of the Company are important stakeholders, who could lose trust in the Company, rendering the decision unsustainable and unethical.

Financial Implications

In case of risk, external financial supports would have a sharp decline, even governmental or non-governmental institutions.
Legal casualties might show up, or going through the registering process might be stressful for the economy.



Aven, T. (2016). Risk assessment and risk management: Review of recent advances on their foundation. European Journal of Operational Research, 253(1), 1-13. doi: 10.1016/j.ejor.2015.12.023
?apka, L., Ve?e?a, Z., Mikuška, P., Šesták, J., Kahle, V., &Bumbová, A. (2015).A portable device for fast analysis of explosives in the environment. Journal of Chromatography A, 1388, 167-173. doi: 10.1016/j.chroma.2015.02.041
Driscoll, T. R., Carey, R. N., Peters, S., Glass, D. C., Benke, G., Reid, A., &Fritschi, L. (2015). The Australian work exposures study: prevalence of occupational exposure to formaldehyde. Annals Of Occupational Hygiene, 60(1), 132-138. doi: 10.1093/annhyg/mev058
Johns, L. E., Cooper, G. S., Galizia, A., & Meeker, J. D. (2015). Exposure assessment issues in epidemiology studies of phthalates. Environment international, 85, 27-39. doi: 10.1016/j.envint.2015.08.005
Lundgren, R. E., &McMakin, A. H. (2018). Risk communication: A handbook for communicating environmental, safety, and health risks. John Wiley & Sons. Retrieved from: []
MacGregor, J. T., Frötschl, R., White, P. A., Crump, K. S., Eastmond, D. A., Fukushima, S., … & Levy, D. D. (2015). IWGT report on quantitative approaches to genotoxicity risk assessment I. Methods and metrics for defining exposure–response relationships and points of departure (PoDs). Mutation Research/Genetic Toxicology and Environmental Mutagenesis, 783, 55-65.  doi: 10.1016/j.mrgentox.2014.10.008
Özbay, G., &Ayrilmis, N. (2015). Bonding performance of wood bonded with adhesive mixtures composed of phenol-formaldehyde and bio-oil. Industrial Crops and Products, 66, 68-72.  doi: 10.1016/j.indcrop.2014.12.028
Schultz, T. W., Amcoff, P., Berggren, E., Gautier, F., Klaric, M., Knight, D. J., …& Cronin, M. T. D. (2015). A strategy for structuring and reporting a read-across prediction of toxicity. Regulatory Toxicology and Pharmacology, 72(3), 586-601. doi: 10.1016/j.yrtph.2015.05.016
Tang, K., Lu, S. Y., Ma, D. L., Leung, C. H., Lee, S. S., Lin, S. W., & D Wang, H. M. (2015). A review on common ingredients of periocular cosmetics and their hazards. Current Organic Chemistry, 19(1), 30-38. Retrieved from:
Wang, X., & He, R. (2017).Formaldehyde Exposure and Neuropsychiatric Disorders. In Formaldehyde and Cognition(pp. 191-207). Springer, Dordrecht. doi: 10.1007/978-94-024

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