6 May 2016

Ban proposed on metal foil insulation

1:22 pm on 6 May 2016

A ban on foil insulation is being considered as safety fears persist years after five New Zealanders died using the product.

The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) is proposing banning people from retrofitting residential buildings with the metal foil insulation.

Roof with steel beam and silver foil insulation heat on ceiling roof house, image used filter vintage.

MBIE are looking to ban the product which has caused deaths in New Zealand and Australia. (File photo) Photo: 123RF

The insulation is often installed beneath floors or in ceilings to reflect heat back into a house.

MBIE senior manager John Gardiner said retrofitting this form of insulation could lead to foil becoming live when it was accidentally stapled into electric wiring.

There were five deaths in New Zealand, between 2005 and 2008, reported to be caused by electrocution associated with the foil insulation, he said.

"Issuing a ban is quite important and it is being driven by the concerns about public safety."

He said four people have died in similar circumstances in Australia, and there have been also a number of house fires with the same cause.

Plastic-based non-conductive alternatives could be found and WorkSafe NZ was issuing advice on best practice to comply with new insulation requirements, Mr Gardiner said.

Peter Garrett

Peter Garrett Photo: Supplied

MBIE is seeking submissions from the public on the ban, which is proposed to begin in July.

The deaths in Australia took a toll on the political career of former lead singer for Midnight Oil, Peter Garrett.

He became a cabinet minister in the Labour Government of Kevin Rudd that was elected in 2007, but was demoted two years later during a political outcry over the deaths.

Mr Garrett later said he had written to Mr Rudd about the risks of the insulation scheme on four occasions.

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