The Heads of Workplace Safety Authorities recently issued a national safety alert about asbestos in the insulation component of electric/battery-operated bee smokers which have been imported into Australia.
The alert said two models with different coloured handles have been found to have asbestos in the insulating board.
The devices were imported from China by three separate beekeeping equipment retailer businesses based in Queensland.
Tests have confirmed asbestos was present in the insulating board between the battery compartment in the handle of the device and the metal smoker of the two models.
The alert said work health and safety laws place duties on persons conducting a business or undertaking (PCBU) or the employer to manage the risk of asbestos containing material (ACM).
The work health and safety laws also place duties on importers and suppliers to ensure that imported products, plant, structures or substances do not contain asbestos.
“These electric/battery-operated bee smokers should not pose an immediate hazard or measurable health risk through normal use, as the asbestos is firmly bonded to the matrix of the insulating board,” the alert said.
“However, the insulating board could be damaged and release asbestos fibres.”
Under state and territory work health and safety laws, the alert said a PCBU (or employer) must not use or allow a bee smoker to be used if it contains asbestos.
“Anyone with one of these bee smokers should immediately stop using it, wrap it in sturdy plastic or put it in a sturdy plastic bag, seal it with tape and store it away until you can confirm with your supplier that there is no asbestos-containing material in them.
“The supplier should be able to provide accredited analysis/ testing information that confirms no asbestos content in the mats.
“If not, users should assume the electric/battery-operated bee smoker contain asbestos and either have them tested or dispose of them.”
The alert said electric/battery-operated bee smokers used in workplaces confirmed to contain asbestos must be disposed of as asbestos waste.
“If you are buying or importing bee smokers, ask your supplier for documentation confirming there is no asbestos in the products (even though they may be labelled as ‘asbestos-free’),” said the alert.
“Users who have purchased bee smokers can reasonably expect the supplier to provide evidence that the bee smokers do not contain asbestos.”
Local standards in some countries of origin may classify goods ‘asbestos-free’ where they meet a certain low level of asbestos content.
In Australia, a product found with any level of asbestos is prohibited for import or use.