Isocyanates: Health surveillance - Guide for employers

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Isocyanates are a group of chemicals often used in the hardeners of two pack paints, such as vehicle or cabinet paints. They are also used in making foams. They can cause occupational asthma and dermatitis.

What is health surveillance?

Health surveillance is monitoring a person to identify changes in their health resulting from exposure to a hazardous substance.

Why should health surveillance be conducted?

Health surveillance may detect harm to health (eg decrease in lung function) before the problem gets too serious, allowing controls to be improved to protect workers’ health.

What regulations apply to health surveillance?

If the health of a person is at risk as a result of exposure to isocyanates at work, the employer must ensure that health surveillance is carried out in accordance with the Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) Regulations 1996. Regulation 5.1 defines ‘health surveillance’ and regulation 5.23 requires an employer, main contractor or self-employed person to provide health surveillance to a worker in relation to hazardous substances.

Who can provide health surveillance?

Health surveillance must be conducted by an Appointed Medical Practitioner (AMP), who is a doctor with adequate training in relation to isocyanates and who has been appointed by the employer after consultation with the worker/s. 

If the doctor you choose has not conducted health surveillance for isocyanates previously, it is essential for them to contact WorkSafe’s occupational physician on 1300 307 877 to ensure they are aware of their duties under OSH legislation.

What further information is available?

Safe Work Australia guidance:

WorkSafe enquiries: Telephone 1300 307 877 or email

Last updated 10 Dec 2021

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