Asbestos at our borders: investigation report released

Asbestos at our borders: investigation report released

Earlier this year the Immigration Department engaged KGH Border Services to review Australia's asbestos border control management. The findings of this investigation were made public today, despite being provided to the Department five months ago. The public release of the report comes amidst revelations that asbestos-containing products from Asian suppliers were being used in Australian construction projects. Despite the 2003 Australia-wide ban, asbestos has also been found in children's crayons, car gaskets and spare parts. In an interview with the ABC, Erin Dale from the Australian Border Force stated that some supplier countries (i.e. China) identify goods as being asbestos-free when they contain up to 5% asbestos material. This means that overseas products certified as'asbestos-free' may prove incorrect or unreliable according to Australian standards. KGH Border Services' report found that the Australian Border Force were not conducting full investigations into imported goods due to implications on time and resources and the uncertainty of successfully prosecuting offenders. According to the Asbestos Industry Association less than 5 per cent of all products imported are checked by the Australian Border Force. The report further found that as there is currently no asbestos revealing technology available, the Immigration Department and the Australian Border Force are hindered in their ability to identify asbestos-containing products. Although current government processes were found to be effective, the report identifies several areas for improvement. These include increased efforts to educate trade partners about Australian laws, service standards and expectations of overseas importers; and the targeting of high-risk goods by boosting current risk profiling. It is hoped that the public release of this report will ensure that the recommended changes to current protocols will end asbestos importing. Any person exposed to asbestos is at risk of developing an asbestos related injury or illness. Even if your exposure to asbestos was many years ago, if you have developed an asbestos related injury or illness, call Bree Knoester today on (03) 9321 9988 to discuss your potential entitlements.

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