By Boyd Champness
ORGANOPHOSPHATE-based sheep dips could be outlawed in Australia after a UK report found a link between the application of OP dips and health problems in farmworkers.
The National Registration Authority will conduct a full independent review of OP dips following the report, which was released by the UK Institute of Occupational Medicine last month.
The report suggests that cases of chronic peripheral neuropathy (long-term mild nerve damage) in farmworkers were linked to the use of concentrated OP dips.
The research found that a fifth of the farm workers surveyed, who had contact with OP sheep dip, had reported some level of nerve damage.
According to the Stock and Land, the NRA has set up an independent panel to probe the applications for Australian workers and farmers, and assess whether the application of the OP dips affected workers health and safety.
In reacting to the survey, the Australian Workers Union – which encompasses farm labourers – has called for a ban on OP dips.
The Wool Council of Australia welcomes the NRAs review but council president, David Wolfenden, fearing that the union will call for an immediate ban on OPs, has said the council would be guided by the NRAs decision.
However, he told The Weekly Times that it should be noted that British sheep producers tended to use twice the OP rates recommended for Australian producers.
In addition, European environmental authorities have OP dips in their sights as they attempt to clean up scouring affluent from wool mills.
OP-based dips rose to public prominence in Australia in 1997 when three New South Wales shearers were awarded payouts for health problems related to the application of diazinon-based (OP) fly strike chemical.
However, the judge found that the farmer had contributed to the shearers health problems by failing to use the product in accordance with the clearly marked labels.