Alert: Asbestos in Insulation Component of Battery-Operated Bee Smokers - April 2019

The Heads of Workplace Safety Authorities has issued this national safety alert regarding asbestos found in the insulation component of electric/battery-operated bee smokers that have been imported into Australia.

Purpose

This safety alert provides information about electric/battery-operated bee smokers which contain asbestos in the insulating board between the battery compartment in the handle of the device and the metal smoker. Two models with different coloured handles have been found to have asbestos in the insulating board. See Figures 1, 2 and 3.

Figure 1: Electric/battery-operated bee smoker Model 1 (ref: Workplace Health and Safety Queensland)

Figure 1: Electric/battery-operated bee smoker Model 1 (ref: Workplace Health and Safety Queensland)

Figure 2: Close-up of asbestos containing insulation board. (Ref: Workplace Health and Safety Queensland)

Figure 2: Close-up of asbestos containing insulation board. (ref: Workplace Health and Safety Queensland)

Figure 3: Electric/battery-operated bee smoker Model 2 (ref: Workplace Health and Safety Queensland)

Figure 3: Electric/battery-operated bee smoker Model 2 (ref: Workplace Health and Safety Queensland)

Background

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 shown above.

Work health and safety laws

Work health and safety (or Occupational 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.

Risk

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. However, the insulating board could be damaged and release asbestos fibres.

Under state and territory work health and safety laws, a PCBU (or employer) must not use or allow a bee smoker to be used if it contains asbestos.

  1. Stop using your electric/battery-operated bee smokers and find out if they contain 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 (for information on ‘asbestos-free’ vs no asbestos content, see ASEA’s website). If not, users should assume the electric/battery-operated bee smoker contain asbestos and either have them tested, or dispose of them as outlined below. (Further information on testing can be found on ASEA’s website.
     
  2. Dispose of electric/battery-operated bee smokers that contain asbestos
    Electric/battery-operated bee smokers used in workplaces confirmed to contain asbestos must be disposed of as asbestos waste. If you are in any doubt about whether the bee smokers contain asbestos, dispose of them as if they do contain asbestos. For members of the public using the electric/battery-operated bee smokers confirmed to contain asbestos, these units should be disposed of at any appropriate facility. Your local council or EPA landfill facility will be able to provide you with information on the location of hazardous waste facilities. To find a disposal site near you that accepts asbestos waste, see ASEA’s website.
     
  3. Check when you buy new bee smokers
    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').  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.

Importers should become familiar with the information on the Australian Border Force website asbestos information page.

If you're unsure, get advice

If you’re unsure about what to do, contact your State/Territory/Commonwealth work health and safety regulator.

State/ Territory C'wealth

Regulator

Contact details

Website

ACT

Asbestos Awareness

ACT Government

13 22 81 www.asbestos.act.gov.au/
NSW SafeWork NSW 13 10 50 www.safework.nsw.gov.au
NT NT WorkSafe 1800 019 115 www.asbestos.nt.gov.au
QLD Workplace Health and Safety Qld 1300 362 128 www.worksafe.qld.gov.au/
QLD Qld Gov Asbestos page 13 74 68 www.asbestos.qld.gov.au/
SA SafeWork SA 1300 365 255 www.safework.sa.gov.au/
SA SA Gov Asbestos page 1300 365 255 www.asbestos.sa.gov.au/
TAS WorkSafe TAS 1300 366 322 www.worksafe.tas.gov.au
VIC WorkSafe VIC 1800 136 089 www.worksafe.vic.gov.au/
VIC Asbestos page 1800 136 089 www.asbestos.vic.gov.au/
WA WorkSafe WA 1300 307 877 www.dmirs.wa.gov.au/WorkSafe/
Comcare Comcare 1300 366 979 www.comcare.gov.au/asbestos