The Department of Immigration and Border Protection have recently issued a notice in relation to assurances that imported goods do not contain asbestos. Strict liability offenses have been imposed on importers who’s declarations regarding asbestos being present in their imported products has been incorrect.
The full notice can be read here, however, we would like to point out some key points that are noted in this document.
- The ABF must be satisfied that goods entering Australia do not contain asbestos. Under powers in the Customs Act 1901, the ABF can examine goods and seek additional information from importers to determine whether the goods are prohibited imports.
- Goods suspected of containing asbestos will be held at the border until either the ABF is assured the importation is lawful or the ABF is satisfied of no asbestos content. Goods found to contain asbestos will be seized and the importers may be subject to penalties or prosecution.
- It is the responsibility of importers to take appropriate action to ensure that they do not import goods that contain asbestos into Australia, unless an exception, exemption or prior permission from the Minister of Employment applies.
- When making an import declaration, importers are required to declare if goods contain, or may contain, asbestos. However, the ABF does not solely rely on information included on an import declaration. It risk assesses 100 per cent of goods entering Australia and targets those considered at risk of containing asbestos.
- This may include goods that are known to contain asbestos, are supplied from countries with asbestos-producing industries, and/or are shipped from overseas suppliers previously identified as sending asbestos or goods containing asbestos to Australia. This means that importers who have declared “no” to the presence of asbestos may be required to provide information to assure the ABF that the goods do not contain asbestos.
The ABF will require importers who have declared “yes” to the presence of asbestos to arrange testing and certification in Australia, unless a relevant exception, exemption or permission applies.
Importers need to have sufficient knowledge of their goods back to the point of manufacture. Importers declaring “no” to asbestos content in their goods must only do so if they are certain that their goods do not contain asbestos by design, or by the use of naturally contaminated ingredients, during manufacture. Importers need to obtain sufficient information, prior to shipment, when unsure of any asbestos content, parts or components accompanying the primary item of import that are a risk (such as gaskets), or whether asbestos was present at any point in the supply chain process.
If the information presented does not provide sufficient assurance, the ABF will require importers to arrange testing and certification in Australia by a laboratory accredited by the National Association of Testing Authorities (NATA).
It is imperative that importers actively demonstrate due diligence prior to importing goods into Australia. Testing certificates, laboratory reports and supply chain documentation can provide assurance that asbestos is not present in your imported goods.
Asbestos is not only a problem for imports into Australia, but also exports.