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Safety alert - Asbestos in acetylene cylinders

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Purpose

This safety alert is to warn of asbestos in acetylene cylinders. Acetylene cylinders are gas cylinders commonly used in gas cutting and welding.

Background

Acetylene cylinders were supplied by Xinxiang Safety Cylinder Co. Ltd. in China to an Australian company. Asbestos was identified in the internal insulation of the acetylene cylinders, described as calcium silicate.

Acetylene cylinders
Figure 1: Acetylene cylinder diagram of internal components (graphic courtesy of OSHAcademy).

Contributing factors

The use of all forms of asbestos has been banned in Australia since the end of 2003. This means that the import, manufacture, supply, sale and use or reuse of asbestos and products with any level of asbestos in them is prohibited for import or use, except under very limited circumstances.

However, in many countries asbestos is still used in manufactured products. Certification that goods are asbestos-free, which is provided to importers from overseas manufacturers, is sometimes found to be incorrect under our regulations. Some countries may classify goods asbestos-free where they meet a certain low level of asbestos content.

Action required

Importers must ensure they do not import asbestos materials into Australia and suppliers must not supply asbestos materials. Both importers and suppliers must obtain testing certification that the goods are asbestos-free. Australian regulations apply at the border.

If the Australian Border Force suspect acetylene cylinders could contain asbestos, they will require assurances from the supplier that they do not. A test report from a National Association of Testing Authorities (NATA)-accredited laboratory, or equivalent overseas body with a zero asbestos content result is the best form of assurance. More information can be found on the NATA website. If adequate assurances are not provided, suppliers will face delays and be responsible for costs incurred when the cylinders are held at the border for the purposes of sampling and testing. Importers should be familiar with the information on the Department of Immigration and Border Protection asbestos webpage.

To reduce the risk of importing or supplying products containing asbestos, read the fact sheet Preventing goods or materials containing asbestos being supplied to workplaces in Queensland.

Information includes:

  • how the importation of asbestos is regulated at the Australian border and the products at particular risk of containing asbestos
  • what businesses must do to ensure imported products do not contain asbestos
  • types of verifications that exist for Australian importers or consumers to show imported materials do not contain asbestos.
  • Acceptable standards for testing if materials contain asbestos.

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