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Construction Code is to be reviewed and consideration will be given to enhancing regulators’ powers. But Mr Williams believes too much is being expected of the states and territories. “You have got to question their ability to deal with this,” he said. “There is no federal response. “As Australian manufacturing dries up more products are being imported. “The Government has to step up its surveillance and auditing to make sure the safety of Australia is not eroded.”

Faulty cabling Many people will have heard about the potentially deadly Infinity electrical cable installed in thousands of homes, thanks to a concerted Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) awareness campaign. The product, imported from China, was recalled in 2014 after tests showed its poorquality plastic insulation breaks down over time, leading to electric shocks or fires. About 2300km of the cable remains unremediated, and progress is extremely slow. 46


Melbourne firemen in action: known and unknown risks add to the danger

However, according to the Australian Cablemakers Association (ACA), there is another sinister threat that is much more likely to impact public and city buildings – the Ecables product. Infinity cables were sold through major national hardware chains and electrical wholesalers, and are most likely to have been used in small jobs in private homes. Ecables products, however, were specifically targeted at major developments such as apartment buildings and commercial sites. “They were predominantly sold in Victoria, but it is difficult to pinpoint the buildings at risk because the regulators have to date refused to release information on where these products were installed,” ACA Chairman Frederick Persson tells Insurance News. “The ACA believes residents and other people who may be accessing affected buildings have the right to this information, and again we call on Energy Safe Victoria to make it public.” Ecables products were recalled because they were found to melt when under moderate load – far below supposed insuranceNEWS

tolerances. This could result in fatal fires, says the ACA. “The common factor among all these recalls is that they were imported products allowed on to the Australian market without adequate testing to ensure they met our high electrical safety standards,” says Mr Persson. “The faults were only uncovered through testing conducted on behalf of the ACA and its members, under the Approved Cables Initiative. “It is deeply concerning that faulty imported products can find their way so easily on to the shelves in Australian stores. “The other common factor has been that once the products have been found to be unsafe, the importing company has folded, leaving no way to fund the removal and replacement of faulty cable.” The ACA is urging state and territory electrical safety regulators to strengthen standards for electrical cable. “We believe there should be independent testing ahead of sale in Australia, to ensure that products meet the standards, as well as follow-up spot checks to ensure ongoing compliance,” said Mr Persson. “This will require a major April/May 2016

effort from regulators and governments, but we believe it is necessary to prevent faulty products being easily sold and potentially putting Australian lives and property in danger.”

Glass Glass installed in many Australian buildings could be extremely dangerous, according to submissions to the Senate inquiry. Nathan Munz, a specialist glass manufacturer, believes “manifestly inadequate” toughened safety glass is being fitted in thousands of homes and public buildings every week. He claims the problem is with the Australian Standard, which he says needs to be more stringent. “The current standard allows the certification of glass that forms long, dangerous pieces, which, if they pierce a person’s body, can be fatal,” he told a public hearing of the inquiry. “Toughened safety glass, by definition, is required to break into small, relatively harmless cuboid particles.” Leon Jacob, of consulting engineer Jacob & Associates, believes “dangerously thin” glass is being installed in buildings.

Profile for Insurance News (the magazine)

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The collapse of Perth-based authorised representative (AR) group Winley Insurance will have repercussions in the industry, but Insurance Adv...

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