January 23, 2015
Second major cable recall raises serious questions around product safety
The Australian Cablemakers Association (ACA) has today demanded urgent government action to protect life and property, following another widespread recall of imported faulty cables.
ACA Chairman Andrew Davenport has written to state and territory Ministers responsible for electrical safety regulation, outlining a five-point plan for overhauling the enforcement process for electrical products.
Mr Davenport said the recall of Ecables brand power cables, coming just months after the recall of dangerous Infinity and Olsent-branded cables, raised serious questions about the product approval process. “The Infinity recall was the largest of its type in Australia’s history, and now we have another situation which the ACA believes presents a more immediate danger – and therefore poses an even greater risk to human safety and property. “We have outlined a five-point plan to give Australian home owners and electrical contractors greater confidence in the products being sold into our market.”
1) First of all, there should be an urgent investigation into how two serious product failures can occur in such close proximity. This second incident points to a deeper problem with the self-qualification process.
2) State electrical safety regulators need greater coordination. Once one regulator rules a product unsafe, the other states should make the same decision, and quickly.
3) Regulators need better communication when a “stop supply” is agreed with an importer or manufacturer. The message to stop supplying ECables product has not been effectively communicated to the general public, and this could lead to product being installed even after it has been taken off the market.
4) Assessments of claims that products are unsafe or non compliant need to be made more quickly. It took from June 2014 until October 2014 to have a recall in place for ECables product. The Infinity cables recall took even longer. The delay in completing assessment contributes to added cost for the community, as removing faulty products costs many times more than the cost of the product itself.
5) And once a cable is determined to be unsafe, all of the installed product must be removed in a timely manner – regardless of whether it is a consumer or trade product.
“In both the Infinity and the Ecables cases, the product had manufacturing flaws that meant they were not even close to reaching the Australian Standard,” Mr Davenport said.
“These flaws undoubtedly create a risk of fire or electric shock, and yet both products were allowed on to the Australian market and remained on sale for a period of years.
“There is clearly a failing with the certification and the follow-up process, and until it is fixed consumers will continue to be placed at risk by sub-standard products.”
January 20, 2015
Collapse of cable company highlights serious flaws in electrical safety regime
The collapse of an electrical cable import business following a national recall of faulty product has highlighted serious flaws in the process for approving products for sale, the Australian Cablemakers Association (ACA) said today.
ECables Pty Ltd was placed into liquidation earlier this month, following the recall of a range of its cable products which had failed to meet the required standard in independent testing. Although the cable was intended to be rated to 110 degrees, its insulation was shown to melt at temperatures far lower than this rated level,creating a very real risk of fire or electrocution.
The ECABLES products have been used in a range of building projects including apartments, hotels and commercial installations, predominantly in Victoria.
ACA Chairman Andrew Davenport said the collapse of the company would have serious financial consequences for many owners and electrical contractors,and it would make the process of removing and replacing the dangerous cable even more difficult.
“This is very bad news for electrical contractors who have installed this cable, and the owners of the buildings in which it has been used,” Mr Davenport said
“It was already a challenge to replace all the faulty cable. Now that challenge will become significantly greater.
“This also highlights yet again underlying issues with the self-qualification process which allows faulty products on to the market.
“The ECABLES recall followed hot on the heels of the nation-wide recall of some Infinity and Olsent brand cables. We need to know how this product, which is clearly faulty, is able to be sold to Australian consumers and installed in our buildings and homes.
“Two serious safety failures so close together clearly point to a deeper issue with the self-qualification process for product accreditation. ACA would like to see this issue examined urgently.
“And most of all, this second major failure points to the need for consumers to insist on quality Australian-made cable products when they are building or renovating.
The safest way to be sure of your safety is to look for the Approved Cables Initiative logo on any products you buy.”
The Australian Cablemakers Association (ACA) has welcomed the mandatory recall on some Ecables branded power cable sold between January 2011 and June 2014.
Energy Safe Victoria issued the recall today, following ACA testing which showed the cable was non-compliant due to a cabling fault.
ACA Chairman Andrew Davenport said the recall applies to Ecables Copper Clad Aluminium (CCA) power cable with RE110 insulation, sold from January 2011, which has predominantly been used for major projects such as apartment buildings, hotels and commercial installations in Victoria, NSW, Queensland and Western Australia.
“This cabling is designated to operate at temperatures up to 110°C and to conduct low-voltage power up to 1000 V, which means it is supposed to be able to withstand higher load currents than similar size but lower temperature-rated cables,” Mr Davenport said.
“The cable is marked as rated to a conductor temperature of 110°C, but comprehensive testing has shown that the insulation fails at temperatures well below this rating and that the cable insulation actually melts if the temperature reaches 110°C.
“Similarly, if the cable is operated at its rated current-carrying capacity then the heat from the conductor causes severe and dangerous insulation deformation.
“This would leave the live conductors exposed and present a serious risk of fire, electrical injury or electrocution.
“It’s impossible to anticipate the future operating conditions for installed cable, even if it is not currently exposed to higher temperatures,” he said.
Today’s recall comes on the back of a full recall on dangerous Infinity and Olsent-branded cables, the largest of its type in Australia’s history.
“ACA believes this insulation failure is even more dangerous and concerning than Infinity and Olsent – where they will break down over time, these faulty Ecables products present immediate danger,” he said.
In its recall notices, ESV said testing showed the cable was non-compliant due to a manufacturing fault that identified the cable’s insulation sheath had not been cross-linked. It said due to the non cross-linking, the cable’s mechanical properties are reduced with the increase of temperature, which can allow access to live parts if the cable is subjected to pressure like cable ties, the weight of other cables or accidental penetration from foreign objects.
ESV and Ecables are in the process of finalising the recall strategy, to be actioned early in 2015. The full recall notice can be found on the Energy Safe Victoria website.
December 10, 2014
New Victorian Government must urgently address dangerous cable
The Australian Cablemakers Association (ACA) has urged the new Victorian State Government to act urgently to address the risk to life and property caused by the recalled ECABLES products.
ACA Chairman Andrew Davenport has written to Premier Daniel Andrews and Energy Minister Lily D'Ambrosio warning them of the serious and complex electrical safety issue they had inherited, and calling for urgent action.
A voluntary trade recall has been issued for Ecables Copper Clad Aluminium RE 110 Insulated power cables, after testing showed the
insulation would melt at its approved operating temperature – exposing live conductors and creating a serious risk of fire or electrical shock.
However, the recall does not mandate the removal of the faulty product, which has been used widely in Victoria for major projects such as apartment buildings, hotels and commercial installations.
In his letters to the new Minister and Premier, Mr Davenport urges them to order the complete removal of all the dangerous product.
"ACA believes this insulation failure is even more dangerous and concerning than the recently recalled Infinity and Olsent cables," Mr Davenport said.
"This is not a situation of this Government's making, but it is one that must be dealt with as a matter of the highest priority.
"We believe the situation warrants a complete recall, and a high-profile public safety campaign to create awareness of the dangers among apartment and property owners, to prompt them to check with their electrical contractors about whether this product has been used.
"We also ask for more transparency from the state regulators about precisely how much of the product has been sold, and how much has been installed. At this stage it is very difficult to gauge the extent of the problem, although we do know that most of
the product was sold in Victoria over two and a half years between January 2012 and June 2014.
"Property owners in Victoria deserve to know that their premises are safe, and that their lives won't be put at risk by dangerous
electrical cable. However, without a mandatory and complete recall, this problem will remain in place to become a major danger in years to come."
We understand that the new government will have many pressing issues and priorities on its plate. However, this issue relates to the safety of life and property, and this is the reason we believe it must be addressed very promptly."