Bunnings stops selling engineered stone linked to silicosis

by | Nov 15, 2023

The hardware giant, Bunnings Warehouse, is set to stop selling a popular kitchen benchtop material linked to the incurable lung disease, silicosis.

The retailer said it has only stocked a limited range of engineered stone benchtops in the past, SBSNews reported. But the Construction, Forestry, Maritime, Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU) has hailed this move as a win in its fight to ban the material altogether.

Bunnings Director of Merchandise, Jen Tucker said in a statement on Tuesday that it would cease sales from 31 December 2023.

When engineered stone is cut, polished, or sawn, dust particles are released into the air. If these particles are inhaled they can cause lung damage, known as silicosis, with potentially fatal consequences.

Safe Work Australia determined the danger posed by high levels of silica dust to workers using engineered stone products was unacceptable, in a report published in October. As a result, the compliance organisation recommended a complete ban on its use.

“Following the recent Safe Work Australia report and consultation with our suppliers, we have made the decision to withdraw the limited range of engineered stone benchtops we offer, from 31 December 2023,” Ms Tucker said.

She added that most benchtops sold at Bunnings stores were laminate and timber, and the retailer was “well progressed with sourcing other alternative products”.

CFMEU national secretary Zach Smith said Bunnings’ announcement marked “the end of the line for engineered stone”.

“Bunnings should be congratulated for eventually doing the right thing and pulling these deadly benchtops from their shelves,” Mr Smith said in a statement.