Another hot-button issue relating to Chinese product safety emerged this week. On Monday, two U.S. steel grating producers — Alabama Metal Industries Corp. and Fisher & Ludlow, Inc. — sent a letter to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration and the Consumer Product Safety Commission, requesting that these agencies investigate potentially defective steel grating from China that is installed and held in inventory in the United States. Moreover, this letter requests that the CPSC consider declaring all Chinese steel grating to be a “substantial product hazard,” or to recall the product, or to outright bar the product from being imported into the U.S. The letter further requests that OSHA issue citations to company employees caught using Chinese steel grating.
This letter from Alabama Metal and Fisher & Ludlow was prompted by a discovery in a recent investigation into Chinese steel grating imports conducted by the U.S. Department of Commerce. During the investigation, it was revealed that Ningbo Jiulong Machinery Manufacturing Co. Ltd., China’s largest producer of steel grating products, falsified documents regarding the chemical composition of its products. In fact, during the investigation, Ningbo Jiulong admitted that it was unsure of the properties of the steel used in its grating. Moreover, Ningbo Jiulong stated that it had forged information in its mill test certificates. Steel grating is used in everything from manufacturing and factory flooring and walkways, catwalks, subway and pedestrian walkways, and fire escape platforms. Americans encounter this product on a daily basis. It would be dangerous for a steel grating producer to not know the chemical or physical properties of its product, because without this information, one could not know the strength of the product or whether the welding would be structually sound.
After the U.S. Department of Commerce’s investigation became public, the National Association of Architectural Metal Manufacturers (“NAAAM”) issued a safety warning about Chinese-made steel grating. The safety warning stated that NAAMM believed that Chinese steel grating products did not meet U.S. safety standards. The warning also stated, “NAAMM is issuing this notice to interested parties wishing to purchase or specify grating manufactured to NAAMM standards, to make them aware that when selecting grating, they should take appropriate measures to verify the grating is manufactured to NAAMM standards.”
Safety issues surrounding Chinese-made products is a topic that Weil Gotshal continues to monitor and issues surrounding Chinese steel grating products will be on the list.