While it has been well over a decade since asbestos was completely banned in Australia, it is important to remember that not all countries have taken the same measures. Importers must still be on their guard, even when receiving goods that are supposedly ‘Asbestos-Free.’
That means that a thorough process of holding overseas suppliers accountable should still be in effect within your organisation as well as any logistics partners that you may have. And during that process, always make sure to have these questions answered before making asbestos declarations of any kind:
- Does the country or state of origin have the same asbestos testing threshold as that of Australia?
There are still some countries where the use of asbestos is still legal in certain materials and can have varying thresholds that may differ from that of Australia. (The United States is one example.) Partnering with overseas suppliers should include heavier research into their country’s regulations, even if they seem similar at first glance.
- How do your supplier contracts specify the requirement of asbestos-free materials?
Australia has its own table of HS codes assigned to goods that are at risk of having asbestos content (and thus, would be effectively prohibited from entering Australian territory should testing prove positive). Such lists and descriptions must be sufficiently laid out in your supplier’s contracts with you. This helps further reduce any vagueness of what qualifies as ‘asbestos-free’ goods in the country.
- Is your supply chain transparent enough to identify areas where asbestos content might make itself into your products?
An importer should have some considerable purview over the processes that look into the supply chain and identify points where your final import might run the risk of violating Australia’s asbestos ban. These include not only quality assurance processes, but also risk assessment and sourcing.
On a final note, importers should also remember that asbestos declarations come in two parts. One is for the importer’s themselves, and the other for the suppliers. And again, strict compliance is required in making sure that both declarations are made with the same standards in mind. Australia is one of the only a handful of nations with a firm, zero-tolerance on Asbestos content and compliance is non-negotiable.