In February 2017, the Australian Border Force (ABF) confirmed the presence of chrysotile asbestos in Vespa scooter sidecar brake components (imported from China and thought to be asbestos-free) following testing by a National Association of Testing Authorities (NATA) accredited laboratory.
No asbestos was identified within other components of the scooters.
Australian asbestos laws
The use of asbestos has been banned since December 31, 2003. This means that the import, manufacture, supply, sale and use (or reuse) of asbestos and asbestos-containing products is no longer permitted, except under very limited circumstances. Please note: Greencap currently holds an ongoing exemption to import asbestos into Australia for the purpose of testing and analysis.
Despite asbestos being banned in Australia, there are many countries across the world that continue to use the material as part of everyday products which presents challenges for Australian businesses and consumers importing foreign products. Some overseas businesses look to bypass border and customs inspections with incorrect labelling of ‘asbestos-containing’ products and other countries simply classify goods as ‘asbestos-free’ because they only contain low levels of asbestos content.
Greencap Principal Consultant Rosalie Mayo-Ramsay says that “it is quite challenging for businesses to stay on top of their requirements with varying definitions and requirements in different jurisdictions, also some countries can legally manufacture asbestos products and therefore often don’t know that it is banned in Australia and inadvertently export to Australia. It is buyer beware and just asking for an asbestos free certificate is not enough, importers should be testing all building products and friction based materials to ensure that they do not contain asbestos’.
“Importers should be aware of the varying definitions and standards applied in the country of origin and/or supply. Australian regulations apply at the border. Importers should also be aware that in some countries Australia trades with, asbestos is added to brake components for domestic use.
The importer must ensure they do not import asbestos into Australia.
Where your vehicle is deemed a risk of containing asbestos, the ABF will require assurances that parts or components do not contain asbestos. If adequate assurance is not provided, you will face delays and be responsible for costs incurred when the vehicle is held at the border for the purposes of sampling and testing. Importers should be familiar with the information on the Department’s asbestos webpage.”
How can Greencap assist around imported goods?
Greencap has offices in all mainland state and territories of Australia as well as in Auckland, New Zealand and has been specialising in the area of asbestos for over 32 years and can provide advice and sampling for importers, customs agents and clients prior to the materials being exported. Some of the imported asbestos containing materials are difficult to analyse due to their composition and the presence of less common asbestos and the amounts within the materials. Greencap have very experienced analysts and technical capacities to analyse and interpret the results of these suspect materials within our NATA-accredited laboratories in Sydney, Wollongong, Canberra, Melbourne and Adelaide.
Greencap has provided assistance to a number of organisations to manage the risks arising from imported asbestos product. This has included NATA accredited sample analysis and testing, requisite dealings with the Australian/State regulators, facilitating exposure risk evaluations and briefings/communications to workers.
NATA -accredited laboratories for asbestos identification and fibre counting, asbestos in soils, asbestos audits, asbestos risk assessments, clearance inspections and reporting, preparation of asbestos removal scopes of works and project management services, accredited asbestos training courses for asbestos removal, awareness, and we also have competent and Licensed Class A asbestos assessors across Australia.
For more information about how asbestos could impact your workplace or facility, get in contact with our expert team today.
Click Here for full Heads of Workplace Safety Authorities (HWSA) Safety Alert
Heads of Workplace Safety Authorities (HWSA) Imported Materials with Asbestos Working Group membership comprises representatives from: Australian Border Force, Asbestos Safety and Eradication Agency, Comcare, Workplace Health and Safety Queensland, Australian Competition & Consumer Commission, WorkSafe Australian Capital Territory, Department of Immigration and Border Protection, Northern Territory WorkSafe, SafeWork SA, WorkSafe Tasmania, Safe Work Australia, WorkSafe Victoria, Safe Work NSW, WorkSafe Western Australia, Department of Employment.