ASI warns of unsafe steel imports

Australian Steel Institute (ASI) says industry must be wary of purchasing steel products offshore following recent complaints

ASI warns of unsafe steel imports
ASI warns of unsafe steel imports

August 26, 2013

The Australian Steel Institute (ASI) has warned
to be wary of purchasing steel products offshore following
recent complaints.

The ASI says a number of major Australian steel projects have reported quality concerns and even fraudulent importer behaviour such as falsified test certificates.

ASI National Manager Ian Cairns says this is a growing trend.

"Over the past five years, the ASI has seen an increase in the number of complaints in relation to non-compliant imported steel products," Cairns says.

"This spike is caused by the lack of accountability when it comes to imported products, many of which have been found to be non-compliant in accordance with Australia’s strict standards.

"In particular, we are seeing a trend towards businesses procuring material such as steel plates, structural sections and metal castings from outside of Australia that are often found to have some issues in meeting local specifications," he says.

Steel Storage Manufacturers Group, an
initiative of the ASI formed in 2010, says it is working towards making sure all steel storage products and installations comply with an increasingly tight compliance regime.

The group, comprising manufacturers Dexion, Dematic, Macrack, Commando and APC, confirms an unacceptable percentage of imported steel storage products fail to observe Australia’s established design and manufacturing standards.

"Australian industry could face legal action or exposure to health and safety risks by purchasing such noncompliant, uncertified and untested steel storage products," the manufacturers say.

Group Chairman and Dexion CEO Peter Farmakis says an inherent difficulty arises when trying to trace the material used and the manufacturing methods adopted by internationally procured steel products.

"Such information is beyond the reach of Australia’s legal and regulatory framework," Farmakis says.

"Accountability is lost when steel manufacturing is taken offshore and it’s both the procurer and the supplier who bear the repercussions of non-compliance in Australia.

"It’s not uncommon for international suppliers to claim they’re meeting the standards when in fact they’re not."

By contrast, Farmakis says, the Australian manufacturing market has established a high-level of quality over many years.

"Customers are insured against unsafe, non-compliant products by the very fact that they are purchasing locally manufactured products from within a strict work health and safety (WHS) compliance regime," he says.

Farmakis says maintaining Australia’s capability in the efficient design, safety, and supply and construction of steel storage structures are the key objectives of the Steel Storage Manufacturer’s Group.

"The Group’s primary objective is to ensure the health and safety of Australian businesses," he says.

"Mitigating potential risks is paramount to the work we do, so we aim to raise awareness within the steel community of the issues associated with imports."

Download resources on compliance set out by the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 in relation to construction steelwork.

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