Asbestos found in imported fibre cement sheets

Safety Alert | 04/11/2015

This safety alert provides advice on building products that have been imported and found to contain asbestos.

Background

An owner builder has recently ordered fibre cement sheets from an international website. The material was advertised as 100% non-asbestos fibre wall board. The owner builder requested that the company only supply 100% non-asbestos sheets to comply with Australian Standards.

Unfortunately for the owner builder the entity supplying the fibre cement sheets also manufactures asbestos containing fibre cement sheets. A worker at the factory has wrongly selected the asbestos containing sheets for export and supplied the owner builder with asbestos containing sheets.

The owner builder has since constructed his residence using the fibre cement sheets. Upon completion of construction a number of sheets remained and were sold online. The recipient of these sheets ordered NATA accredited testing of the sheets (to AS 4964) which identified Chrysotile asbestos.

The actual asbestos containing cement fibre sheets 

The international entity that exported the asbestos sheets, Shanghai Xinlong Fireproofing Material Co.,Ltd has since written an apology letter to the owner builder confirming that the owner builder requested 100% non-asbestos material and that the incorrect sheets were exported to owner builder.

Action Required

When importing building materials from overseas countries where asbestos use is legal, before using the material in construction you should arrange for a competent person to sample the material for testing by a laboratory.  It is recommended that a NATA accredited laboratory, accredited for the relevant test method (AS 4964 Method for the qualitative identification of asbestos in bulk samples), or internationally equivalent laboratories be used.

Further information

The discovery of this asbestos containing fibre cement sheeting comes after SafeWork NSW identified EPS panels being installed at Sydney construction site.

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