Illegally imported products containing asbestos impact the health and safety of Australian workers and the wider community.
Asbestos and other non-conforming building products continue to be imported illegally into Australia despite being banned in 2003. Part of the solution is a holistic approach to supply chain management.
Following on from our previous article on Illegally Imported Asbestos Playing Havoc on Construction Sites and for Property Owners and Managers, this issue continually arises across the country. Whilst there is greater awareness of this issue, the problem has not been fixed and these illegal products continue to find their way into Australian buildings and plant/equipment potentially exposing unassuming workers to deadly asbestos fibres.
A senate inquiry into non-conforming building products is currently underway. Earlier this year the Senate granted an extension to the committee to report by 31st August for the interim report and 31st October 2017 for the final report.
Steven Hains (Greencap National Practice Lead – Property) says “we are only just seeing the tip of the iceberg with this issue. Some high-profile cases have brought to light how widespread this issue is across the country, however further action is required to ensure we stop these materials from entering Australia, but also appropriately manage the ones that have slipped through the cracks”.
Awareness of the risks associated with this are critical for any suppliers/companies who are importing products from overseas – in particular those countries that are still mining and exporting asbestos. Management at various stages of the supply chain is critical for preventing these materials entering Australia.
Asbestos Consumption and National Bans – 2015
Sources: USGS Apparent Consumption Data (2015) and IBAS National Ban Lists
Compiled by International Ban Asbestos Secretariat
Greencap holds an asbestos importation exemption licence and our NATA-accredited laboratories have identified a number of positive hits for asbestos in imported products. These were identified both as part of the border/customs/importation process as well as already being installed/in-situ).
Products of particular concern include (but are not limited to):
- Fibre cement sheeting/corrugated sheets
- Various gaskets (e.g. within fire pump equipment)
- Friction materials/brake pads (e.g. quad bikes, motorcycles, lift components etc)
- Kids crayons
- ‘Talc-based’ make-up products
- Bitumen products (e.g. damp-proofing)
- Electrical components e.g. switch gear, panel partitioning, cloths/tape
- Joining material in flues (and similar)
- HRC fuse
- Fibre board (used for the manufacture of fire doors)
NB/ The list above includes items tested directly by Greencap NATA laboratories and those identified by the Australian Safety Eradication Agency (ASEA).
Taking Action on Illegally Imported Asbestos
Greencap are conducting a national seminar series on this issue, partnering with various experts and regulators in each state to improve awareness on this issue and give clients practical tips on how to mitigate the risks associated with imported products.
For further information contact your local Greencap office.
Greencap has provided assistance to a number of organisations to manage the risks arising from imported asbestos product being installed into commissioned infrastructure. 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.
Our services include: 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, several VET 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, contact our expert team today.