Regulating Risk of Nanomaterials for Workers through Soft Law Approach
Nanotechnology has revolutionized various industries and has become a notable catalyst for economic growth. The emerging issues of human health and safety associated with nanotechnology development have raised regulatory concerns worldwide. In occupational settings, the same novel characteristics of nanomaterials that are utilized for innovation may also be the source of toxins with adverse health effects for workers. The existing regulatory framework may function effectively to regulate chemical substances in their conventional forms but may not be adequate with regard to the specific issues of nanoform substances. A foundation of knowledge concerning properties of nanomaterials, and risk management approaches for these materials have been established, but conclusive results remain elusive. It is difficult for lawmakers to regulate nanotechnology-related activities effectively if conventional regulatory mechanisms are applied. The present article analyses in a country study the adequacy of existing Malaysian occupational safety and health law with regard to the specific issues presented by nanotechnology. The applicable regulatory approaches are examined to justify the adoption of soft law instruments as regulatory mechanisms for nanotechnology. A number of soft law best practices are briefly discussed as a basis to recommend practical solutions to close the existing regulatory gap.