Distributors of locally made steel, as well as importers of steel, are more likely to face prosecution under new health and safety laws, if their products are proven to be sub-standard.
Society for Safety Engineering chair Joe Bain said the law changes, which kick in tomorrow, made it explicit that importers must ensure products were safe for a lifetime of use, even if that meant doing their own testing.
Dr Bain said that could result in private prosecutions or complaints to WorkSafe against importers.
"Because the duty in the law will be there and quite clear cut. If the importers just relied on certificates from a manufacturer, but it's not considered reasonable to have relied on those certificates, then there is a legal duty under the [Health and Safety at Work Act 2015] that they will have failed to satisfy."
Designers and manufacturers would also have to take "reasonable practical" steps to ensure the safety of people who used their products or structures in the workplace, he said.
The new regulations carry stiffer penalties, with fines of up to $600,000, though Dr Bain said that penalty was for recklessness which would be hard to prove.