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Makers step up bid to ban 'grey' imports

Manufacturers meet Government to voice concerns over plant safety regime

PLANT chiefs are to meet with Government representatives in a bid to get unsafe imported equipment banned from the UK.

At the meeting, scheduled for next week and organised by the Construction Equipment Association, directors from major manufacturers will offer new arguments to the Health and Safety Executive and the Department of Trade and Industry for banning 'grey' imports - machines not CE-marked for conformity to European regulations.They will point to moves in other countries to ban such imports and to concerns at surplus stocks coming out of China.

The CEA is incensed over what it sees as the HSE's unbalanced attitude to plant manufacturers, especially since the safety chiefs chose not to prosecute anyone involved with a high-profile accident with a grey import Sumitomo crane in Southend last year.

CEA technical spokesman Tim Faithfull said: 'They must do something proactive about unsafe equipment.They are throwing huge resources at small issues and turning a blind eye to non-compliant machines.'

The Sumitomo's boom collapsed because the Far Eastern import had no safety devices to stop the boom hoisting after its operator had left the cab. Such devices are compulsory on a CE-marked machine.

The HSE censured those involved but said there was not enough to be gained from a prosecution, given the risk of not winning and the fact that the importer and owner of the machines were not 'serial offenders'.

Mr Faithfull raged: 'It is appalling that the crane was allowed into the country.The HSE's response to the accident and to our questions over it has been pathetic.Even though manufacturers are following the standards they are being asked to provide extra measures such as mirrors at additional cost.Then the HSE doesn't do anything about clear breaches of European standards, namely grey imports.'

In the USA, customs officials have begun to turn away machines that do not comply with American regulations following a ruling from the International Trade Commission.

The US arm of mini manufacturer Yanmar has even warned customers that grey imports of its own brand infringe US standards if they are built in Japan.

Mr Faithfull said: 'We want UK Customs to have similar powers.There is a surplus of 10,000 non-compliant machines from China at risk of coming to Europe.'