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.
USG Boral has told builders to quarantine any USG Boral fire-rated plasterboard products pending further advice.
The company said it has stopped using the Chinese-sourced vermiculite and will switch to another source, as well as arranging for the safe removal of all unused Chinese-sourced vermiculite from their facilities at Camellia, Port Melbourne and Pinkenba, and the testing of all finished products using vermiculite as an ingredient.
Customers are advised to quarantine and refrain from installing, distributing, or supplying the following fire-rated plasterboard products:
- Firestop Plasterboard;
- Fire WetstopTM Plasterboard;
- MultistopTM Plasterboard range (3/3HI, 4/4HI, 5/5HI); and
- ShaftlinerTM Mould Stop Plasterboard.
Construction, Forestry, Maritime, Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU) national construction secretary Dave Noonan said workers using USG Boral board need to demand the company inform them whether the products they are using are asbestos free.
He said: “The company says the issue only affects its fire-rated plasterboard and that the level is 0.1 per cent of the 3 per cent vermiculite put into the board.
“Yet we know there is 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.
“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.”