Bunnings will stop selling engineered stone as pressure mounts for a national ban on the silicosis-causing material.
Unions have been campaigning for the chain, owned by retail and industrial conglomerate Wesfarmers, to pull kitchen bench tops from its product line-up to protect workers from the deadly condition.
WATCH THE VIDEO ABOVE: Bunnings will stop selling engineered stone.
Looking for a new job or job candidate? Post jobs and search for local talent on 7NEWS Jobs >>
Workers can be exposed to silica dust if their jobs involve breaking, crushing, grinding or milling materials high in silica, such as engineered stone benchtops, bricks, tiles, concrete and some plastic materials.
Last month, Safe Work Australia recommended a ban on the use of engineered stone products to prevent workers developing deadly diseases and cancers.
Bunnings Director of Merchandise Jen Tucker says the retailer will stop selling the products from December 31, “following the recent Safe Work Australia report and consultation with our suppliers”.
Bunnings urged to pull product from shelves amid safety concerns
IKEA slammed for selling dangerous product
“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,” Tucker said.
Tucker said the “aggressive behaviour” of CFMEU protestors at a Victorian store over the weekend “was deeply disappointing”.
“Our decision to stop selling engineered stone was directly in response to the reports released and the prospect of a ban on the sale in the near future,” she said.
CFMEU secretary Zach Smith praised the move and called for a total ban on the import, manufacture and use of engineered stone to follow.
“This is the end of the line for engineered stone,” he said.
“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.”
Bunnings has announced it will no longer stock engineered stone products. Credit: AAP
Smith said other retailers should follow the lead of the hardware giant.
“IKEA talks a big game on social responsibility yet lines its shelves with bench tops that kill Australians,” he said.
In October, Safe Work Australia recommended that engineered stone products be banned.
More than 600,000 workers are exposed to materials with high silica contents in sectors such as mining, building and construction, tunnelling and manufacturing.
Campaigners now hope IKEA will also stop stocking engineered stone products. Credit: IKEA
State and federal governments have been unable to agree on a national approach to engineered stone, despite the safety watchdog’s recommendation.
NSW and other states have threatened to push ahead with their own bans if agreement is not reached at a scheduled meeting in mid-December.
“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,” Smith said.
“The CFMEU won’t rest until the asbestos of our generation is stopped forever.”
If you’d like to view this content, please adjust your Cookie Settings.