Bunnings will stop selling killer bench tops

Jarrod
By Jarrod
4 Min Read

Bunnings has announced they will stop selling deadly engineered stone by the end of the year, in a major win for the unions campaigning for a ban on the deadly materials. 

The hardware giant promises to remove the ‘killer stone’ from their shelves by December 31 following a Safe Work Australia report calling for a ban on the product to protect the next generation of workers from contracting silicosis.

Dubbed “the new asbestosis”, silicosis is caused by inhaling the ultra-fine silica dust produced while cutting manufactured stone, with one study predicting 100,000 workers are set to develop the condition in their lifetime.

That makes silicosis the fastest-growing occupation disease in the country.

This decision by Bunnings comes just weeks after members of the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU) staged protests calling for the hardware chain to stop selling the product.

 Bunnings director of merchandise, Jen Tucker, said the chain made the decision before state and federal governments forced their hand.

“While there has been clear indication from NSW and other state governments that they will legislate a ban on the product, we are proactively making this decision to allow suppliers and customers time to prepare for a transition,” she said in a statement.

CFMEU National Secretary Zach Smith said the announcement from Bunnings marked “the end of the line for engineered stone”.

“When even a massive corporation that until now has put profits over workers’ lives concedes it’s lost any remaining social licence to sell this killer stone, no government can squib it on a ban,” said Mr Smith. 

“Bunnings should be congratulated for eventually doing the right thing and pulling these deadly bench tops from their shelves.

“The only reason Bunnings finally sided with workers’ health was grassroots pressure from CFMEU members passionate about saving lives.

IKEA also “phasing out” the stone 

With the ban now backed by a household name like Bunnings, Mr Smith called out Swedish home brand IKEA for failing to take action. 

“All retailers must follow suit immediately. IKEA talks a big game on social responsibility yet lines its shelves with bench tops that kill Australians,” said Mr Smith. 

In response, IKEA Australia CEO and CSO Mirja Viinanen was quick to tell reporters they were taking similar steps towards phasing out engineered stone from their shelves.

“We work closely with these suppliers to ensure the highest safety standards for environmental and working conditions are followed,” said Ms Viinanen in a statement provided to Build-it.

“We have been monitoring the issue, including the recent analysis and recommendation from Safe Work Australia on the risks associated with engineered stone products.

“IKEA Australia will begin the process of phasing out engineered stone products from our local range, ahead of government action. Engineered stone benchtops form just part of the IKEA range and many alternative materials are available.”

A national ban is yet to be decided

State and federal workplace ministers will meet again next month to determine the product’s fate after failing to reach a decision last month.

The CFMEU has promised to implement its own ban on members working with engineered stone if governments fail to act.

“Today all governments and businesses are on notice that Australians will accept nothing less than a total ban on the import, manufacture and use of engineered stone,” said Mr Smith.

“The CFMEU won’t rest until the asbestos of our generation is stopped forever.”

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Jarrod
By Jarrod
Jarrod Brown combines his background in journalism, copywriting and digital marketing with a lifelong passion for storytelling. He has a strong passion for new and emerging consumer technology within the building sector. He lives on the Sunshine Coast - usually found glued to the deck of a surfboard.

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