'Imported construction materials putting buildings, lives at risk: industry leaders' - report from ABC

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Posted: WED 24 JUNE 2015, 10:32PM AEST

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New Plymouth, New Zealand – January 2015


A cautionary word on imported cables; lesson’s from Australia’s struggle with cable recalls.


Businesses in the New Zealand electrical industry are urged to check the quality of cable they are importing following more product recalls and cases of unsafe cable imports in Australia.


Nexans NZ General Manager Mr Ian Skipworth cautions that failure to act now and implement local regulations could put New Zealand’s own electricity industry at risk.  “We have been following the Australian cases closely, and we are acutely aware of the potential risks to our local market; it’s very close to home”, Ian says.


In the highly publicised Australian cases, imported cables arrived in the country with paperwork stating they met Australian standards, but later testing found they did not. The cable materials were non-compliant with the AS/NZS specification, and the cables were critically unsafe, with the potential to cause electrocution or serious risk of fire.


Distributors have since recalled the product in Australia, and new cases are fixed to follow suit: an exercise that is set to cost the Australian business sector hundreds of millions of dollars.


Ian says this should serve as a warning to New Zealand businesses: that what happened in Australia could also happen here. “If a similar incident happened in New Zealand and cable was recalled, it would likely spell financial disaster for all the businesses involved”.


Importing cable is becoming commonplace as distributors look to reduce costs by seeking products from offshore manufacturers. As it stands, imported cable products are granted entry to the country with only a test certificate. Unfortunately many of them have not passed the full range of electrical, mechanical and chemical testing specified by both New Zealand and worldwide compliance standards.


Nexans NZ believe that any expected savings gained from cheaper imports will be more than offset by any additional future cable expenditure required to maintain assets in a safe and efficient manner. The consequences of taking a gamble on unknown offshore products are becoming increasingly obvious, and that alone should be top of mind for everyone in the industry.