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September 19, 2018

Asbestos risk 'very low' in quake repairs: Worksafe

Asbestos risk ‘very low’ in quake repairs: Worksafe

CECILE MEIER

Last updated 17:38, December 8 2014

The Earthquake Commission (EQC) failed to manage asbestos risks in earthquake home repairs, a report says.

WorkSafe New Zealand has released its findings from an investigation into EQC’s Canterbury home repair programme, which began in 2011. It found deficiencies but not enough to lay charges because the risks to homeowners and contractors had been “very low”.

The investigation found:

– Prior to June 2012, asbestos was seldom discussed or tested for.

– EQC contractors took waste from repairs to a dump that was not approved for asbestos-contaminated material.

– Within a sample of 35 home repairs, WorkSafe found contractors often started repairs “without [providing] any record of an adequate safety plan”. There were only 12 safety plans in the sample of 35 home repairs.

– Six out of 10 homes tested as part of the investigation contained asbestos. In these houses, repairs had been completed without prior testing.

Canterbury medical officer of health Dr Alistair Humphrey questioned the findings because 10 homes only had been tested as part of the investigation.

“To hold such firm conclusions after testing on such a small sample seems to be drawing an extremely long bow knowing at least 9000 homes are likely to contain asbestos,”he said.

EQC chief executive Ian Simpson defended his organisation, saying EQC prioritised the “most pressing needs” of Cantabrians after the 2010 and 2011 earthquakes. 


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The investigation was inconclusive about how many houses were tested but found testing had been insufficient, especially in the programme’s first year.

EQC’s safety system had been inadequate and lacked monitoring and feedback processes. The report said poor management of asbestos risk may have extended to quality management of the repairs.

It also said EQC had not sought clarification of the potential risks before deciding this year not to retrospectively test repaired homes. No clear reason for this decision was provided, the report found.

However, experts said overall the risks associated with the type of repair work being carried out was “unlikely to cause any asbestos-related deaths”. 

Simpson said the research found even in a worst-case scenario, the risks did not reach a level where a single worker could be expected to develop mesothelioma or lung cancer. 

“Our priority was to get people into safe and warm homes as soon as possible.

“We focussed first on removing potentially lethal hazards such as unstable chimneys, providing or repairing heating before the onset of winter, and ensuring homes were weather tight.”

Contractors had been required to manage health and safety risks on site – including asbestos – from the start of the programme, he said. 

The independent research cited in the WorkSafe report was commissioned by Fletcher EQR and conducted by Australian health risk consultants Greencap NAA. WorkSafe’s experts reviewed this research as part of its investigation.


– The Press

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Asbestos risk 'very low' in quake repairs: Worksafe

Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization (ADAO) to Present at American Public Health Association (APHA) 142nd Annual …

LOS ANGELES–(BUSINESS WIRE)–

The Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization (ADAO), the largest independent non-profit organization in the U.S. which combines education, advocacy, and community to help ensure justice for asbestos victims; has been selected to present at the American Public Health Association 142nd Annual Meeting and Expo November 15-19 in New Orleans.

APHA’s Annual Meeting & Exposition is where public health professionals convene, learn, network and engage with peers. The annual meeting is focused on strengthening the profession of public health, sharing the latest research and information, promoting best practices and advocating for public health issues and policies grounded in research.

“ADAO is honored to be chosen as a part of the respected community of public health advocates at the 142nd APHA conference,” stated ADAO President and Co-Founder Linda Reinstein. “Although I cannot be there in person due to my participation at the Australian Asbestos Safety and Eradication Agency (ASAE) 1st Annual International Conference, I am thankful to my colleague Mark Catlin, for presenting, on our behalf, the important story about the role that asbestos awareness plays in furthering public health.”

On November 17, Mark Catlin, Occupational Health and Safety Director with the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), Washington, DC, will present on behalf of SEIU and ADAO, about the critical role of asbestos disease awareness in promoting and protecting public health. The presentation, titled “History and Impact of Asbestos on OHS in the U.S. and internationally,” will examine how asbestos has caused one of the largest man-made disasters. Between 1900 and 2013, the U.S. consumed 31 million metric tons of asbestos, which has given rise to continued occupational, environmental, and consumer exposure. Globally, an estimated 2 million tons of asbestos is mined each year, and the U.S. continues to import more than 1,000 tons annually. Equally problematic is the long latency period for asbestos disease to present that results in misdiagnosis and under-reporting. More than 50 countries have banned asbestos, but the U.S. has not. The presentation will provide a brief historical overview of the global asbestos crisis, address the inaccuracies in morbidity data, inadequacies in occupational health and safety protections, and regulatory violations. The presentation will also review progress and challenges in asbestos legislation, health education strategies and global advocacy to prevent exposure and to eliminate asbestos-related diseases.

Despite its known dangers, there is still no global ban on asbestos, and it continues to claim lives. Exposure to asbestos, a human carcinogen, can cause mesothelioma, lung, gastrointestinal, laryngeal, and ovarian cancers; as well as non-malignant lung and pleural disorders. The World Health Organization estimates that 107,000 workers around the world will die every year of an asbestos-related disease, equaling 300 deaths per day.

About the Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization

The Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization (ADAO) was founded by asbestos victims and their families in 2004. ADAO is the largest non-profit in the U.S. dedicated to providing asbestos victims and concerned citizens with a united voice through our education, advocacy, and community initiatives. ADAO seeks to raise public awareness about the dangers of asbestos exposure, advocate for an asbestos ban, and protect asbestos victims’ civil rights. For more information, visit www.asbestosdiseaseawareness.org.

Contact:

Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization (ADAO)

Kim Cecchini, Media Relations

202-391-5205


Kim@asbestosdiseaseawareness.org

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Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization (ADAO) to Present at American Public Health Association (APHA) 142nd Annual …

Asbestos homes compensation agreed

This article – 

Asbestos homes compensation agreed

James Hardie Q1 profit slides 80 pct, warns of slower US recovery

* FX changes on asbestos compensation claims hit profit

* US housing market improving slower than expected

* Company’s FY 2015 outlook below analyst forecasts (Adds profit detail, shares, housing market outlook)

SYDNEY, Aug 15 (Reuters) – Australia’s James Hardie Industries PLC , the world’s biggest fibre cement products maker, said on Friday its first-quarter earnings tumbled and warned full-year profit will fall short of analyst expectations as the U.S. housing market recovers more slowly than it previously anticipated.

The firm, which generates two-thirds of its revenue in the United States and Europe, saw its Sydney-listed shares slump after it said net profit for the first quarter of its fiscal year skidded 80 percent. The earnings drop was mainly because of unfavourable changes in exchange rates as the company pays compensation for claims of health damage from historic use of asbestos in products.

Net profit for the three months to June 30 fell to $28.9 million compared to $142.2 million a year ago. Not including asbestos adjustments, gross profit grew 11 percent to $140 million, while revenue rose 12 percent to $416.8 million.

But the company, which supplies products like cladding for the outside walls of houses, presented a more muted outlook on the recovery in the U.S. housing construction market than it gave when it reported results for the previous fiscal year three months ago.

In Sydney James Hardie shares fell as much as 7.5 percent to touch four-month lows. By 0011 GMT the stock had recovered slightly, trading 6.8 percent lower at A$13.08.

In a statement to the Australian Securities Exchange, the company said while the U.S. market was improving, with housing starts in the first quarter up 4 percent from a year earlier, the improvement was at “a more moderate level than originally assumed for the year”.

“Recent flattening in housing activity has created some uncertainty about the pace of the recovery in the short-term,” the statement said. “Although U.S. housing activity has been improving for some time, market conditions remain somewhat uncertain and some input costs remain volatile.”

James Hardie noted analysts have forecast it will post operating profit excluding asbestos compensation costs of between $226 million and $261 million for the full financial year. But the company said it expects the result to be in the range of $205 million to $235 million, compared with $197.2 million for the previous year.

(1 US dollar = 1.0733 Australian dollar) (Reporting By Byron Kaye and Jane Wardell; Editing by Chris Reese and Kenneth Maxwell)

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James Hardie Q1 profit slides 80 pct, warns of slower US recovery

Asbestos scare shuts Perth's biggest school

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Mr Axworthy said he recieved a call from the school and that he elected to take a cautious approach.

“Parents were notified by an SMS at 6pm on Monday night saying the school would be closed on Tuesday, with more information to come,” he said

“That information was emailed to parents at 9pm.”

However the school will now be closed until Monday, with staff from The Department of Finance’s building management and works division, along with expert contractors, spending the rest of the week inspecting the school.

Mr Axworthy said there was no indication more asbestos would be found at the school and that the closure was a precaution.

“They will conduct comprehensive testing within the school so we can assure ourselves there is no risk or danger to any students or staff, so the school will be closed until Monday.

“We have contacted all parents.”

Mr Axworthy said Willetton’s 260 Year 12 students, along with upper school students, would not be disadvantaged

Their teachers will be relocated to North Lake Primary School for the duration of the week, and would work with the students using WIlletton’s already well-developed online learning system.

“Willetton has a very strong online connection….we’ve moved the teachers to another site and they will be able to connect directly with the families and the individual students to maintain and moniter educational programs and assignments.”

He added that the school would definitely be reopening on Monday.

However Mr Axworthy pointed his finger squarely at the Department of Finance’s building management and works division when asked if he was concerned the Education Department wasn’t aware of Friday’s asbestos discovery.

“Our staff are not in the school during the school holidays.

“Building management and works had reported nothing to us…I am not at all happy that I was informed at 5pm last night that our biggest high school has a potential problem

“We are certainly taking it up with building managment and works.”

An Education Department spokeswoman confirmed that 600 WA schools have asbestos-containing material on site, which was commonly used in buildings before the 1990s.

” All Western Australian public schools have at their premises, a site-specific asbestos register that forms an integral part of the Department’s Asbestos Management Plan,” the spokeswoman said.

“This register documents the location and condition of all known and suspected ACM, identified through visual inspection and includes details of major ACM removal.

“Asbestos registers in schools are updated every two to three years as part of the Building Condition Assessment process.

“The Western Australian Advisory Committee on Hazardous Substances Report in August 1990 indicated that exposure to asbestos cement materials in WA public schools represented negligible risk to health.

“The Department of Education’s position on ACM in WA public schools is that the material, if in relatively good condition and left undisturbed, presents negligible risk to the health of building occupants.”

She also confirmed that in the last financial year, the Education Department has spend $2 million on repairs and maintenance associated with ACM.

WA Opposition Leader Mark McGowan said the state government and the education department should have inspected buildings earlier in the school break.

“Students have been arriving and journalists have been telling them to go home,” Mr McGowan said.

“It’s clearly unacceptable, although I can’t say the students appeared unhappy.”

Willetton Senior High School has more than 1800 students.

It was built during the 1970s and is now the subject of a multi-million dollar redevelopment.

– with AAP











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Asbestos scare shuts Perth's biggest school

James Hardie profit surges, but asbestos claims still rising

Building materials firm James Hardie has more than doubled its profit and announced a special dividend.

The company’s statutory net profit rose to $US99.5 million for the year to March 31, up from $45.5 million in its previous financial year.

James Hardie says its underlying full-year profit was $US197.2 million when its significant asbestos compensation exposures, ASIC expenses, New Zealand product liability, asset write-downs and tax adjustments are excluded, up from $US140.8 million last year.

The firm’s chief executive Louis Gries says James Hardie’s US and European businesses contributed much to the profit surge.

“Net sales increased 22 per cent in the quarter and 19 per cent for the full year, reflecting stronger volumes, a higher average net sales price and the continued strengthening of the US housing construction market,” he noted in the report.

The company says US single family housing starts were 615,400 for the year to March 31, up 9 per cent on the prior year according to the US Census Bureau.

In the Australian market, the number of detached home approvals – which generate the most demand for the firm’s key fibre cement building products – was up 16 per cent to 104,394, but James Hardie says that has been partially offset by a fall in renovations.

Mr Gries says the construction turnaround is prompting significant investment to increase its manufacturing capacity.

“During financial year ’14, we confirmed our commitment to build the infrastructure to grow our business with the reopening of our Fontana, California location, the commencement of capacity expansion projects at our Cleburne, Texas and Plant City, Florida locations and the construction of a new manufacturing line at our Carole Park, Queensland location,” he said.

“To further capitalise on the projected growth in the US housing market, and our anticipated market share growth across all of our businesses, the company intends to increase its levels of capital expenditure to an average of approximately US$200 million per year over the next three years.”

In addition to the capital investment, James Hardie has announced a full-year special dividend of 20 US cents per share, in addition to its ordinary dividend of 32 US cents per share.

James Hardie securities were up 3.7 per cent to $14.19 by 12:20pm (AEST) on the Australian market as a result.

Asbestos exposures

James Hardie has reported $US195.8 million in adjustments for asbestos liabilities in its annual accounts, up from $US117.1 million last year.

The company says accounting firm KPMG’s current estimate of total asbestos liabilities for Australia, net of insurance claims, has risen to $1.547 billion this financial year from $1.345 billion last.

The main reason for the rise, according to the report, is a continued increase in claims by asbestos victims suffering mesothelioma, a rare form of cancer generally affecting the lungs and typically caused by asbestos exposure.

James Hardie says actuaries had previously assumed a peak in mesothelioma claims to have occurred in 2010-11, however the past two years of claims have been above expectations.

In the year to March 31, a total of 608 asbestos-related claims were received, a 12 per cent rise from 542 claims the previous year, and well above expectations of 540 claims.

James Hardie says 604 claims were settled in its 2014 financial year, with an average settlement of $253,000, resulting in a total payout of $140.4 million for the year.

Mesothelioma claims jumped almost 20 per cent in the year to March 31 2014, to 370, up from 309 the year before, 259 in 2011-12 and 268 in 2010-11.

KPMG had previously expected only 300 mesothelioma claims in its forecasts.

Mesothelioma claims are far more expensive for the company, with the average settlement sitting at $308,000, compared to around $100,000 for asbestosis or lung cancer.

There were also seven “large” mesothelioma claims over $1 million, worth a total of $11.6 million.

The company warns that, if claims do not start reducing until after 2018-19 the estimated claims total of more than $1.5 billion could rise a further 22 per cent on top of this financial year’s increase.

KPMG says it is too early to tell whether the higher number of claims will be sustained based on one year’s worth of increased claims.

However, James Hardie’s chief financial officer Matt Marsh says the impact on the company’s bottom line will be capped, and it is fulfilling all its requirements to the asbestos compensation fund.

“We’ll make a payment in July of $US113 million and that will be in compliance with our obligation under the [agreement] to contribute up to 35 per cent of our operating cash flow,” he told analysts on an investor briefing.

“The second part of that question is will that be enough to pay for the liabilities, and that’s a question that’s better asked of the AICF [Asbestos Injuries Compensation Fund].”

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James Hardie profit surges, but asbestos claims still rising

Deadly asbestos fibres continue their ripple effect

Deadly asbestos fibres continue their ripple effect

WA News

Date

Leanne Nicholson

Asbestos led to the removal of Wittenoom's status as a town in 2007.

Asbestos led to the removal of Wittenoom’s status as a town in WA in 2007.

Asbestos may have been banned from Australian manufacturing since the mid-1980s but the effects continue to be felt beyond the initial victims and decades after the prohibition of the deadly fibres.

The Asbestos Narratives, released by Southern Cross University, considered the social and psychological impacts of the asbestos disease and, of all groups facing challenges, the disease had a greater impact on women.

“Women are likely to form a significant proportion of the emerging third wave of exposure to asbestos and may suffer considerable hardship as a result,” project leader and the university’s director of Regional Initiative for Social Innovation and Research, Associate Professor Rick van der Zwan said.

“The medical effects of this disease are well researched, but little has been known about the social, psychological and economic implications for those diagnosed, their carers and their families.

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Deadly asbestos fibres continue their ripple effect

Imported asbestos products getting past Australian customs

Imported asbestos getting past Australian customs
Imported asbestos getting past Australian customs

Large shipments of products containing asbestos are entering Australia undetected by customs officials and it has some groups worried about worker safety.

Fibres were recently found in almost a dozen train engines and it is feared many more dangerous imports are slipping through.

While the manufacture of asbestos has been banned in Australia for more than quarter of a century, it is still rife in China, Russia and Brazil.

“It’s cheap to produce a product for housing and things like that, but it’s also killing people,” Terry Miller from the Asbestos Victims Association said.

Products containing the deadly fibres are then exported around the globe, including to Australia.

Last month, asbestos was found in the engines of ten trains during routine testing, sparking fears for worker safety.

“Our security system in Australia is so lax and through customs, if it looked like asbestos, these guys picked it, they should’ve done an analysis themselves,” Ian Sheppard from the Asbestos Diseases Society said.

It follows the recall of more than 20,000 Great Wall and Chery vehicles with asbestos gaskets last year.

In June, customs officials in Adelaide intercepted and destroyed a shipment of motorcycles containing asbestos.

Mechanics admit they do not expect to find asbestos in motorbikes and therefore do not undertake precautionary measures, but they fear cheap imported parts could be putting them at risk.

Those caught trying to bring asbestos merchandise into the country face fines of up to $850,000.

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Imported asbestos products getting past Australian customs

Imported asbestos getting past Australian customs

Imported asbestos getting past Australian customs
Imported asbestos getting past Australian customs

Large shipments of products containing asbestos are entering Australia undetected by customs officials and it has some groups worried about worker safety.

Fibres were recently found in almost a dozen train engines and it is feared many more dangerous imports are slipping through.

While the manufacture of asbestos has been banned in Australia for more than quarter of a century, it is still rife in China, Russia and Brazil.

“It’s cheap to produce a product for housing and things like that, but it’s also killing people,” Terry Miller from the Asbestos Victims Association said.

Products containing the deadly fibres are then exported around the globe, including to Australia.

Last month, asbestos was found in the engines of ten trains during routine testing, sparking fears for worker safety.

“Our security system in Australia is so lax and through customs, if it looked like asbestos, these guys picked it, they should’ve done an analysis themselves,” Ian Sheppard from the Asbestos Diseases Society said.

It follows the recall of more than 20,000 Great Wall and Chery vehicles with asbestos gaskets last year.

In June, customs officials in Adelaide intercepted and destroyed a shipment of motorcycles containing asbestos.

Mechanics admit they do not expect to find asbestos in motorbikes and therefore do not undertake precautionary measures, but they fear cheap imported parts could be putting them at risk.

Those caught trying to bring asbestos merchandise into the country face fines of up to $850,000.

Source: 

Imported asbestos getting past Australian customs

Asbestos claims rising but James Hardie doubles profit

Costly to settle: Asbestos-related claims are rising for James Hardie, particularly in relation to mesothelioma.

Costly to settle: Asbestos-related claims are rising for James Hardie, particularly in relation to mesothelioma. Photo: Sylvia Liber

James Hardie says it is seeing an increase in the number of asbestos claims relating to mesothelioma, the deadly cancer caused by prolonged exposure to the substance.

The construction firm, which revealed it had doubled its first-half profit on Thursday, said the number of asbestos claims relating to the cancer had risen above the company’s expectations.

In half-yearly statements released to the stock exchange on Thursday, Hardie said the average cost of asbestos claims for the six months to September was higher than the previous year due to an increase in mesothelioma claims, which were more costly to settle.

“We have seen some concerning trends in mesothelioma claims, which we have highlighted previously,” chief financial officer Russell Chenu said.

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“We’ve now got a better handle on the ‘what’ and the ‘how’, but what we still don’t understand is the ‘why’.

“There’s still a lot of work going on in that space, but there is a definite trend in an increase in mesothelioma claims that the fund is experiencing.”

James Hardie’s payments for asbestos claims are tied to its cashflow. It pays up to 35 per cent of its annual net operating cash flow to an asbestos fund.

The company said the number of mesothelioma claims could be higher than its predictions due to the way it calculates a peak year of claims.

It forecast mesothelioma claims to peak in 2010-11, but said that, had it forecast a peak to occur later – for example, in 2015-16 – the estimates could change significantly.

“Mesothelioma is the most expensive of the asbestos disease types in terms of compensation,” Mr Chenu said.

“The fund is seeing an increase in the inflow of claims, and almost all of the increase in claims appears to be mesothelioma disease, rather than the other types of disease.

“That’s increasing the amount of payments relative to both last year and relative to an actuarial assessment that was done at March 2013.”

Mr Chenu said he could not say more on the topic because it was a matter for the fund and “as far as I’m aware, we don’t fully understand the cause of the increase in claims as of yet”.

James Hardie shares soared 14 per cent on Thursday morning after the company revealed it had doubled its operating profit in the first half of the financial year.

The company, which reports in US dollars, said its operating profit for the six months to September 30 was $US108.3 million ($116.4 million), up from $US56.3 million a year earlier.

The profit figure excludes asbestos, regulatory and liability adjustments, it said. Without stripping these out, its profit was higher at $US194.1 million.

Chief executive Louis Gries said the second quarter had benefited from an increase in sales in its US business, which reflected an improvement in the housing market relative to last year.

“Last year, we invested significantly in organisational capability in expectation of market growth in the US,” he said.

“This year we are benefiting from that investment, as evidenced by improved earnings before interest and tax margins.”

The company’s results benefited from the recent fall in the Australian dollar, which reduced its liability for asbestos claims in US dollar terms.

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Asbestos claims rising but James Hardie doubles profit