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Hand sanitiser production blocked by safety rules

Nikki Mandow:

Hand sanitiser manufacturers are calling on the Government to temporarily relax a 2017 dangerous goods rule they say is stopping them meeting the huge Covid-19-induced demand.

The 2017 rule change reduced the amount of sanitiser a manufacturer could produce in one batch from 1000 litres to 30 litres, says Garth Wyllie, executive officer for advocacy at the Employers and Manufacturers Association and also head of the industry body representing hand sanitiser producers, Cosmetics New Zealand.

The reason for the change, he says, is that a lot of highly flammable ethanol goes into hand sanitiser, and the two regulatory bodies, the Environmental Protection Agency and WorkSafe, ruled smaller batch sizes were safer.

That was then. But times have changed, Wylie says.

Soaring demand from people trying to protect themselves from Covid-19 has seen orders balloon out to 600,000 bottles.

But New Zealand’s six sanitiser manufacturers can produce only 4000-8000 bottles a day with the present batch sizes.

That’s led to empty shelves and a waiting time of up to 12 weeks for customers desperate for hand sanitiser.

“Manufacturers still have the capacity to make 1000-litre batches, but they can’t do it legally,” Wylie says.

“With a temporary exemption, and close monitoring by the regulators, we could supply these orders in one week and not 10-12.”

Wylie says he has raised the issue with the EPA and with WorkSafe but hasn’t had a reply.

“We need to get a lot into the market, and quickly,” he says. “We can do it if we get a temporary exemption.”

Newsroom approached WorkSafe, which sent a statement:

“We believe the EMA may be confused. We are going to contact the EMA but in the meantime we will work to ensure production can go ahead as Mr Wylie suggest.”

18 COMMENTS

    • All in the name of Health & Safety, Worksafe, Environmental Protection Agency, as they leverage
      Precautionary Principles , so much like having Waitangi Treaty Principles.

      Please do not cross the road, as it could be dangerous.
      Conception is considered to be dangerous, so please do not get in conceptual positions.
      Some societies seem to practice post birth abortion, that continues in this age.

      Noticed the shortage of hand sanitizer back in January.

      There are such good entrepreneurial people in New Zealand, that work hard to acquire the stock on the shelves, as they have world wide contacts, so the “trade me” price has to at least match the export prices, being free market and such.
      Citizens of what country? NZ First? or Global First? or?

      So the world wide demand, whoops the Greta Thunberg demands that commands, there to be a shortage of supply, for precautionary green environmental principles aligned with Worksafe.

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      • “Shortage of hand sanitiser in January.”
        Wuhan Flu started on 17 November.
        Anyone with Chinese connections knew what was coming and stripped shelves.
        (Rumour was that it was sent back to China. I believe that for face masks, but not so sure about hand sanitiser.)
        Meanwhile, the world’s media was fussing over Mad Greta and trying to assist an impeachment.

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        • And Mad Greta’s demands became commands for the environmental controls of throttling everything back, like blockading trains in Canada. 🙁

          I know now that the production of hand sanitizer was choked down by NZ. environmental worksafe regulations. Still there seemed to be enough in stock at the “ware house” and super markets, and not a big seller, as it is bit pricier than hand wash, for the past few years.
          Probably not a big lot of stock in where ever the ware houses are, so easily cleaned out and not so noticeable once it was finished, but all the variant brands were gone.

          When I inquired in January, I was told it was on “back order” and more was coming. Never saw it.

          The baby milk formula was a good little earner for entrepreneurial people and was very noticeable at that time, with trolley loads, and as truckloads were being driven in to replenish the shelves.

          Hand washing is important, and in the scheme of things, I am not a big user of hand sanitizer, but it has a place.
          It is handy for some situations, when out & about, as I found when I had a long run of really needing to avoid risk of infection a few years ago.

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  1. The do as I say, not as I do bunch who love to control everyone else have calved a comfortable and well paid niche for themselves. They don’t produce anything and stop others from doing so.

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  2. Do not understand this. What do think is produced in those big vats at every winery?
    What happened to the biofuel industry under this rule ?

    I do not know exactly how these products are produced but are they any more “dangerous” than spray painting operations ?
    Fonterra has big factories producing ethanol –were they closed down due to this rule ?

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    • There is a reason for all those 1000 litre plastic cubes industries use for bulk liquids. Cubes fit easily on a standard pallet and are easily loaded by forklift onto trucks for transport around the country or loading into containers for export.

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  3. He suggests “close monitoring by regulators…” yet has not heard from the EPA or Worksafe.

    There is altogether too much regulator influence in daily life and here is a no brainer, the company making the material does not want an explosion and will take care to avoid one. A clip board warrior standing by is not going to alter anything other than the cost to the consumer.

    The next government needs to focus on getting the regulators out of the picture and let New Zealand get on with life.

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