Plea to pull ‘killer’ Bunnings product from shelves

Plea to remove the ‘killer’ Bunnings product from the shelves

Bunnings has been urged to launch a range of trendy kitchen worktops that have been linked to an incurable disease that is killing traditions.

The National Construction Union has taken their demands directly to Michael Schneider, CEO of the hardware giant, warning that it was ‘unreasonable’ to retain stone worktops in Bunnings’ product range.

“Bunnings has unique market power and a unique place in Australian society. Removing this great product from your shelves would send a powerful message,” wrote CFMEU CEO Zach Smith.

The specially designed worktops, which have become a feature in many Australian kitchens and bathrooms, contain a high concentration of crystalline silica.

Bunnings is being urged to remove the worktops from its product range

Cells from the lungs of a patient with silicosis see the speck of silica dust shining brightly

Cells from the lungs of a patient with silicosis see the speck of silica dust shining brightly

The silica dust released when sawing stone worktops can lead to the potentially fatal disease silicosis and lung cancer.

Silicosis is incurable and is caused by inhaling small particles of silica dust.

In his letter, Mr Smith called for the product to be removed ‘with immediate effect’.

“I am disappointed that despite all this information being in the public sphere, Bunnings is still advertising and selling stone products with high silica content in your stores nationwide,” he said.

‘Conversely, it is unconscionable for Bunnings to continue to promote and sell this great product when it does not have to.

‘There are many alternatives to artificial stone as a table material. The operating costs of removing these products are insignificant when faced with the prospect of more deaths.”

He also warned that cuts could occur during home renovations, a key source of Bunnings’ customer base.

Modeling by Curtin University, published earlier this year, estimates that up to 103,000 tradies will be diagnosed with silicosis in their lifetime due to exposure to silica dust at work.

More than 10,000 people will develop lung cancer.

The CFMEU has pledged to ban its members from using or importing artificial stone products from July next year if federal and state governments do not act.

Bunnings director of merchandise Jen Tucker said the hardware giant was aware of the concerns and would “continue to monitor and follow the advice of the regulators”.

But Ms Tucker did not support the CFMEU’s request.

‘Most of the worktops we sell in store are laminate or wood, but the stone worktops we supply are pre-cut to size before they arrive to the customer and are supplied and installed by a specialist supplier who owns a stone license and maintains strict safety standards to protect production and installation teams in accordance with the requirements of their license,” she said.

‘We take the safety of our team and our customers very seriously.

Bunnings responded to the letter, but did not say it would remove the product

Bunnings responded to the letter, but did not say it would remove the product

“We know that safety is a concern for the wider sector, and something that the federal government is currently reviewing. We support new legislation and the introduction of consistent standards and licensing across all states and territories.”

Federal and state ministers are currently considering a Safe Work Australia report on a possible ban on high concentration crystalline silica plates.

The previous coalition government established a national task force on dust diseases to investigate ways to limit silica exposure as an increasing number of young, otherwise healthy people were diagnosed with silicosis.

The taskforce said artificial stone products should be banned from July next year if significant safety improvements are not made.