Asbestos-free certification “sometimes incorrect or unreliable”

The Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry has welcomed the findings of the Asbestos Importation Review Report – released by the Federal Government last week – and called for agencies to do more to help importers and consumers comply with border laws.

“Certification from overseas manufacturers that goods are asbestos-free is sometimes incorrect or unreliable. Importers need to be aware that an overseas testing certificate is not evidence of compliance with Australian law,” ACCI CEO James Pearson said today.

“It is hard to tell if a product contains asbestos just by looking at it. Identification can only be done by testing a sample at an accredited laboratory.”

As reported by OHS Alert, Australian Border Force investigators recently issued warrants to Yuanda Australia, after it emerged that Yuanda imported and supplied Chinese asbestos-containing products to major construction projects in Brisbane and Perth, and possibly dozens of other sites.

The Department of Immigration and Border Protection subsequently released the 37-page importation review, which found the DIPB needed to refine its procedures to improve voluntary compliance with Australia’s ban on asbestos imports.

It also found there had been few full investigations and subsequent prosecutions of asbestos-related offences.

The ACTU noted that the Government received the report five months before releasing it, and warned that asbestos imports couldn’t be stopped without “proper tracking and enforcement”.

Queensland IR Minister Grace Grace said the report showed the Federal Government had failed to stem the flow of asbestos products, and it was “sad” that new buildings couldn’t be guaranteed to be asbestos-free.

ACCI’s Pearson claimed that the prosecution rate was “an inappropriate measure of [the] success” of asbestos bans.

“Rather, we encourage voluntary compliance, in conjunction with information and education. We encourage strong enforcement where needed, but voluntary compliance delivers more sustainable outcomes,” he said.

 

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