EWPAA says substandard imports and non-conforming products risk Australian lives.

The Engineered Wood Products Association of Australasia (EWPAA) has made a detailed submission to the Senate Inquiry on Non-Conforming Building Products, highlighting the inherent safety concerns and risks involved with the use and importation of these products.

The high costs involved with producing compliant products has resulted in a shortening of the supply chain, with an increasing number of developers and building companies importing products directly from overseas manufacturers.

Direct importation has provided greater opportunity for non-compliant products, such as asbestos riddled Chinese fibre cement products, to enter the domestic market and put the safety of Australian citizens at risk.

The EWPAA submission draws on evidence from over 25,000 tests performed on both certified and non-certified engineered wood products sourced from across Australasia, over a two year period up to August 2015.

These tests demonstrated that 28 percent of imported non-certified panels products were found to be non-compliant with Australian standards, in comparison with the low 1.5 percent failure rate of certified products from Australia and New Zealand.

EWPAA CEO Dave Gover has expressed his concern over the testing results and the current lack of regulations relating to the importation and use of non-conforming building products.

“Australia has stronger legislation in place to protect trees in foreign countries being illegally logged than legislation to protect the health and safety of its citizens from wilful or reckless importation of dangerous or mislabelled building products,” he says.

“The EWPAA strongly recommends that legislation be enacted to protect the health and safety of Australian citizens in such a way that responsibility for compliance rests with all parties in the supply chain.”

The EWPAA submission noted the success of the Illegal Logging Prohibition Act 2012 in deterring the importation of timber products derived from illegally logged forests, and suggested its use as a template for future legislation relating to non-conforming building products.

The Inquiry has been commissioned by the Senate Economics Reference Committee to consider the effects of non-conforming building products on the Australian construction and building industries, as well as the effects of the illegal importation of products containing asbestos.