Plasterboard manufacturer USG Boral has issued a warning to customers that some of their fire-rated plasterboard products may be contaminated with asbestos.
The contamination affects fire-rated plasterboards containing vermiculite imported from China and was discovered in routine testing. The company has told builders to quarantine any USG Boral fire-rated plasterboard products pending further advice.
CFMEU National Construction Secretary, Dave Noonan has told workers using USG Boral board to demand the company inform them whether the products they are using are asbestos free.
“The company says the issue only affects its fire-rated plasterboard and that the level is 0.1% of the 3% vermiculite put into the board. But we know there’s no safe level of asbestos exposure so construction businesses must take immediate steps to quarantine potentially contaminated products and ensure workers and customers are safe”, Mr Noonan said.
“The CFMEU will engage with the company to eliminate the risk of exposure from factories, distribution centres and construction sites.”
This latest asbestos contamination issue confirms the CFMEU’s repeated warnings that imported building products, particularly those from China, may not be safe.
“We have seen too many instances of building supplies that are manufactured or sourced in poorly regulated markets like China failing basic safety requirements or exposing workers or end customers to unnecessary risk”, Said Mr Noonan.
USG Boral is advising customers to quarantine the following fire-rated plasterboard products and refrain from installing, distributing or supplying them to customers:
- Firestop® Plasterboard
- Fire WetstopTM Plasterboard
- MultistopTM Plasterboard range (3/3HI, 4/4HI, 5/5HI)
- ShaftlinerTM Mould Stop Plasterboard
CFMEU WA State Secretry, Mick Buchan, said the responsability and failure absolutely sit with the Australian Government.
“How many times are we going to see a failure like this. There are Federal Government agencies that are supposed to prevent asbestos and other non-complient materials getting in. So why are they still getting in?”, said Mr Buchan.
“We had a mojor contractor put asbestos in the roof of a brand new children’s hospital here in WA. Seriously! In a children’s hospital.”
“Importing this stuff can easily be prevented. But we have companies in this country who are more than ready to put profits before people’s safety. And we have a Federal government in the pocket of big business who are more than happy to let them get away with it.”
USG Boral says it has stopped using the Chinese-sourced vermiculite and will switch to another source and is arranging for the safe removal of all unused Chinese-sourced vermiculite from their facilities at Camellia, Port Melbourne, and Pinkenba.
They are now faced with the task of testing all finished products made using vermiculite as an ingredient.