Is glyphosate safe to use?

‚ÄčThere have been a number of media stories over the past few weeks regarding the use of pesticides; including one earlier this month, when more than 500 workers at a NSW council stopped work due to safety concerns over weed killer glyphosate.

Glyphosate is a broad-spectrum herbicide that works by impeding an enzyme found in plants; this enzyme is not found in humans. It is regularly used in local government weed management measures.

In Australia, the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority (APVMA) is the National Registration Authority for agricultural and veterinary chemicals. The APVMA has undertaken reviews into the use of glyphosate and determined that products containing glyphosate are safe to use according to the label instructions. There are around 500 products containing glyphosate registered for use in Australia.

WA local governments often engage contractors to undertake the task of weed and pest eradication. These contractors are required to have a Pest Controllers Licence, as a minimum requirement. Please note this is also best practice for local government workers who are required to use herbicides/pesticides for the purpose of pest or weed eradication, though not a legal requirement. Further information on the requirements for a WA Pest Management Technicians Licence can be found here

Your local government may sometimes need to work with a number of chemicals in order to provide services to your community.

LGIS advises all members to undertake a risk assessment on the use of glyphosate, or any chemical product, to determine whether its use is reasonably practicable in the circumstance (as required by the Occupational Safety and Health Act (WA) 1984). It's also recommended you follow the relevant Material Safety Data Sheet when using any potential hazards.

For more information on the use of glyphosate, please visit the APVMA website. For more information on risk assessments in weed management or the OSH guidelines, please contact the LGIS risk and governance team on 9483 8888.