Replacement seat belts raise new safety concerns, spark fresh recall in NZ

Replacement seat belts imported to New Zealand following a safety alert have raised new safety concerns and prompted another recall.

The New Zealand Transport Agency is urging vehicle owners who have retrofitted seat belts to check the labels on them.

NZTA says following a safety alert in October, further investigation of seat belts imported by Business Ventures Limited (BVL) has found that more replacement seat belts being provided by the company, though labelled as compliant, do not meet approved safety standards. 

NZTA is advising vehicle owners that if retrofitted BVL seat belts - manufactured by either Changzhou BWD or Jiang Su Jiu Jiu Traffic Facilities Co. Ltd. - are fitted in their vehicle in the driver's seat, they do not use their vehicle until replacements are fitted. If fitted in other seating positions, the advice is not to allow passengers to use those seats. 

The seat belts concerned can be identified by a label located on the seatbelt strap and is provided in the NZTA's updated safety alert.

BVL seat belts are mostly used for retrofitting into modified vehicles such as vans, buses and motorhomes, NZTA says. 

They are also commonly used to replace damaged or worn original vehicle seat belts but BVL seat belts are not installed by major automotive companies when vehicles are newly manufactured.

NZTA says after being alerted to the potential safety risk, it commissioned independent testing of the seat belts and these test results indicated that although the belts are labelled as compliant, they do not meet an approved safety standard. 

BVL has recently agreed to undertake a safety recall covering the BVL/Changzhou BWD labelled seat belts. 

NZTA says it's working with the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment to assist BVL to initiate a further recall to cover the Jiang Su Jiu Jiu labelled seat belts. NZTA has also provided information about all the substandard seat belts to the Commerce Commission. 

The agency says it has also instructed vehicle inspectors to fail a vehicle for its Warrant of Fitness or Certificate of Fitness inspection if these seat belts are identified in a vehicle.

NZTA says it's not aware of any failures involving BVL-imported seatbelts in New Zealand or overseas.

Vehicle owners and operators who have purchased BVL seat belts are advised to contact the reseller from whom they purchased the seatbelt for advice on getting them replaced with a safe alternative. Alternatively, they can contact Business Ventures Limited directly at or on 09 574 6724.

Seatbelt. Source: Thinkstock