January 23, 2019

NHS trust fined £90k over asbestos

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NHS trust fined £90k over asbestos

Health effects of Mr Fluffy asbestos exposure to be studied

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Asbestos was in the air everyone breathed all the time, given its use in so many building materials, he said. Until recently, every time a bus used its brakes a burst of asbestos fibres was released because brake pads had been made of asbestos. Biopsies of lungs suggested asbestos was present in the lungs of most Australians, he said.

While low exposures could cause disease, the risk increased with intensity of exposure or time, he said. Short, sharp exposures such as during home renovations increased risk, as did lower exposures over a long period. When he asked how many people at Sunday’s forum had done home renovations, most put up their hands.

But even with high exposures, most people would not get sick, Dr Pengilley said, pointing out that the vast majority of people in the Western Australia asbestos mining town, Wittenoom, never developed an asbestos-related disease.

Among home renovators exposed to asbestos, five in 100,000 people a year developed mesothelioma after 35 years, he said. Among Wittenoom residents, the annual risk of developing mesothelioma was 26 in 100,000. Mesothelioma is a cancer of the lining of the lungs. Two Mr Fluffy residents have been diagnosed with the disease this year; one recently died.

Asbestosis is another asbestos-caused disease, but Dr Pengilley said he did not expect people living in Mr Fluffy homes to develop the condition, which was marked by scarring on the lungs and breathing problems. He said asbestosis was generally seen in people who had been exposed to a lot of asbestos.

The residents at the forum questioned officials about risks to their health, both physical and psychological, and the potential for the loss of their homes and “everything they’ve worked for”.

Some urged fellow residents to stay calm given the low risk, while others warned against complacency.

The forum heard concerns about the quality of asbestos assessments and the difficulty of notifying tradespeople, family and friends who had been in contaminated homes.

The head of thoracic medicine at Canberra Hospital, Mark Hurwitz, said experts were divided on the value of having a chest X-ray. But in his view it was worthwhile as a baseline with which to compare health problems that occurred down the track.

Chest X-rays were of low-dose radiation – the same as flying to Brisbane – he said. But he stressed they had no value for predicting whether you would get sick later.

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Health effects of Mr Fluffy asbestos exposure to be studied

Solicitor's asbestos warning after death of pensioner

Solicitor’s asbestos warning after death of pensioner

York Press: Ray Brown died from the lung condition malignant mesothelioma

Ray Brown died from the lung condition malignant mesothelioma

A SOLICITOR has warned that asbestos disease does not have a ‘sell-by date’ after an inquest heard how an 86-year-old York man had become its latest victim.

Howard Bonnett, of Corries Solicitors, said that in recent times, he had been dealing with many more case of men and women in their 80s who were suffering the asbestos-related cancer mesothelioma.

He said York Acting Coroner Jonathan Leach had recorded at an inquest that Raymond Brown, of Rawcliffe, had died because of the cancer.

“The inquest heard evidence that Mr Brown had been exposed to asbestos in the 1960s and 1970s during his work as a pump engineer on large scale industrial projects including various power stations and factories,” he said.

“Mr Brown developed problems with breathing in February and following investigations he was diagnosed with mesothelioma in March, and succumbed to the disease at York Hospital on April 5. He leaves a wife Margaret and children Christine and David.”

He said Mr Brown’s death was another sad tale of mesothelioma affecting an otherwise normal man.

“At 86, he rightfully thought he had missed this sad scourge which has affected too many people in the York area. I am sorry to say that asbestos disease does not have a “sell by “ date.

“Raymond’s death shows that if you have been exposed to asbestos then you have the risk of diseases like mesothelioma for the rest of your days.”

Mrs Brown said the family had known for many years that Raymond had developed asbestos damage to his lungs.

“We had hoped that he would not be another sad statistic of this awful disease,” she said.

“For many years, he suffered with ill health and we wish he had been around to have fought this disease and to have seen justice done.

“We hope other asbestos victims and their families keep an eye out on their health and make sure they get an early diagnosis and get the best treatment that they can “

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Solicitor's asbestos warning after death of pensioner

Nurses air concerns over asbestos removal

Nurses at a psychiatric hospital have expressed “grave concerns” about HSE plans to remove potentially dangerous asbestos from a ward while staff and patients are still in it.

Psychiatric Nurses Association (PNA) members said it was “incomprehensible” that the HSE plans to remove asbestos from a hospital ward in Glanmire, Co Cork while 13 patients and staff are still in situ.

They’re also shocked that an agency tasked with safeguarding the public’s health has suggested such a move when the Naval Service has “locked down” two ships after discovering asbestos on board.

The Navy said it won’t let anybody other than members of a specialist clean-up team into the vessels to remove the material.

According to staff, an asbestos removal team was supposed to start work yesterday morning at Unit 3, St Stephen’s Hospital, but didn’t arrive after the protest was mounted.

Psychiatric nurses can’t understand why the HSE wants to do this now, rather than wait until the unit is closed on April 28 for a total overhaul.

The PNA said the protest was organised to highlight “health and safety concerns” about plans to carry out the work on the acute admissions unit for males.

Admissions will cease there on April 14, ahead of the temporary shutdown two weeks later for complete refurbishment.

Nurses claim in the interim patients could be easily moved to another unit around 50 metres away while the work is being undertaken.

The PNA said a report commissioned by the HSE South had confirmed that asbestos is present in ward’s floor, but they also believe it may be present in the walls.

PNA sources said the last time asbestos was removed from wards at the hospital all patients were transferred out of them before the work began.

They are also concerned that other parts of the hospital, which was built in the 1950s, may also be contaminated with the substance.

Fianna Fáil spokesman for health Deputy Billy Kelleher said he thought it ironic that the Naval Service had locked down two ships when the HSE proposed to carry out asbestos removal while patients and staff remained in the ward.

The TD, who lives close to the hospital, said “all patients and staff had to be removed prior to any works being carried out”.

However, the HSE said specialists had classified the asbestos as “very low risk” and they would partition off work areas and seal them to prevent any air transmission to patients and staff.

“The works will be supervised and monitored by an independent accredited specialist company, who will undertake air sampling during all phases of the works,” a HSE spokesman said.

He added that patients wouldn’t be removed during the work.

“The remedial works themselves will be completed while the unit remains operational.

“Similar works have been completed in other occupied acute in-patient settings in Cork in recent years,” the spokesman added.

© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved


Nurses air concerns over asbestos removal

Asbestos link to pensioner's death

Asbestos link to pensioner’s death

Daily Echo: Asbestos link to pensioner's death

Asbestos link to pensioner’s death

A HAMPSHIRE man died due to a combination of heart disease and asbestos exposure, an inquest heard.

Bert Wells, 81, was exposed to the substance during a four-year stint at Marchwood Power Station, starting in 1957.

A post-mortem found Mr Wells, of Haltons Close, Totton, had asbestos fibres in his lungs but also suffered from heart disease.

Dr Adrian Bateman, pathologist at University Hospital Southampton, said the asbestos was not the primary cause of death but would have increased the strain on his heart.

Mr Wells died at Southampton General Hospital in October.

Coroner Keith Wiseman recorded a verdict of death due to natural causes contributed to by asbestos exposure.

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Asbestos link to pensioner's death

EPMU calls for tighter rules on asbestos

Christchurch rebuild workers and their families should not be put at risk of serious illness due to exposure to asbestos, says EPMU Construction, the union for construction workers.

The union welcomes charges brought by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment against Canterbury District Health Board and Exterior Building Care Goleman Limited under the Health and Safety in Employment Act 1992.

It is alleged they allowed workers to be exposed to asbestos at Christchurch Hospital.

But more needs to be done to ensure people are healthy and safe at work.

“Asbestos is a significant hazard, and no one should be exposed to it without proper training and precautions,” says Ron Angel, EPMU Construction industry organiser. “Yet we see cases like this where employers just don’t take it seriously.

“One group which is particularly at risk is Pasifika and Filipino migrant workers, who we’re asking to come here and help us but may send home with chronic illnesses which could be avoided. That’s not right.

“The government can do more to make sure workers and their families aren’t put at risk as we rebuild Christchurch. We want politicians and employers to treat every home and workplace like their own.”

EPMU Construction is calling on the government to:

– create a register of sites in Christchurch where asbestos has been identified

– ban the importation of asbestos-containing products

– create a national plan to eliminate asbestos from the built environment by 2030.

The two companies who have been charged are expected to appear in court next year.

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EPMU calls for tighter rules on asbestos

Board fined over hospital asbestos

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Board fined over hospital asbestos

Patients had asbestos risk, say workers

Patients had asbestos risk, say workers


Last updated 08:07 06/05/2013

Industrial abseilers


CONCERNED: Industrial abseilers, from left, Neil Silcock, Liam Milner, Petra Doner and Jeff Richards who are not impressed with the response to them discovering they were dealing with asbestos while working on the Parkside Block at Christchurch Hospital.

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Contractors exposed to asbestos while working at Christchurch Hospital are outraged they may have unknowingly put patients and staff at risk to the poisonous substance while walking through active wards.

Official test results, obtained by The Press, confirm subcontractors for exterior building firm Goleman were exposed to asbestos while working on the roof of the hospital’s earthquake-damaged Parkside building in early April.

Several workers say they walked through wards and saw patients in hospital beds, unknowingly wearing potentially contaminated material, for more than a week after Goleman had received test results that confirmed the presence of white asbestos on the roof site.

The Government is investigating the issue after it received a complaint about the possible health risk but the Canterbury District Health Board (CDHB) said there was no concern for patient or staff safety.

The workers, who were removing moss and lichen from the hospital roof, were concerned the material they were working with contained asbestos and gave the CDHB maintenance officer a sample to test on March 27.

External chemical risk management company, Chemsafety, tested the sample and preliminary results confirming the presence of white asbestos were sent to the CDHB on April 2.

Goleman was informed of the test results and advised to stop work immediately by the CDHB.

An agenda for a Goleman staff meeting on April 3, which 25 of the 27 possible employees attended, mentioned the possibility of asbestos on the site with the phrase “stop, think and if not safe, don’t do”.

However, four contractors maintain they were not told about the risk. The work continued for the next 10 days.

Workers told The Press up to 10 Goleman employees may have been exposed to asbestos and said they were not advised of the potential health and safety hazard or told of the positive test results by Goleman.

A group of 10 workers approached Fletchers, the project manager for the hospital, amid growing concerns their workplace could be contaminated, on April 10. Fletchers immediately shut the site down.

Results from a second test sample were received by the CDHB on April 12, which once again came back as positive, and Goleman was again immediately informed.

On that same day, Goleman workers were ordered to pick up gear, including ropes, clothing and hoses, from the contaminated work site and carry it in sealed plastic bags through Parkside and into Christchurch Women’s Hospital, where they were due to begin work on the roof.

The workers say they were told by Goleman that the tests had come back positive later that same afternoon and were asked to bring in any clothing that may have been contaminated.

Goleman employees Jeff Richards and his partner, Petra Doner, both handed in their resignation on April 15, furious they were “put in danger without choice”.

Richards, an industrial abseiler who worked on the site, believes Goleman downplayed the risk of exposure to asbestos for the workers, hospital staff and patients and handled the situation “very poorly”.

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He said workers were not formally told about the asbestos until the site had been shut down and that they were not given any warning of the potential danger or any advice or extra protective equipment by Goleman after the positive test results.

Richards and fellow colleagues Liam Milner and Neil Silcock said they walked through corridors “past patients in hospital beds”, and used the same elevators as doctors, nurses and the public during the week the work continued at the site.

“The gear we were wearing and carrying was potentially covered in asbestos and there is a good chance those people were exposed to it that we walked past in the hospital,” Richards said.

“It’s a massive public health issue.”

Goleman general manager Luke Goleman disputed his employees’ claims and said the firm “took action the moment we found there has been the slightest risk of asbestos”. Goleman changed the work methodology to protect staff.

Clothing samples taken from the workers for testing have all returned free of any contamination, he said.

He believed Goleman handled the situation well.

“Goleman acted on all information as it came to hand and were proactive in the initial testing of the roofing material to assure the safety of our staff.”

CDHB chief executive David Meates was made aware of the situation only on Friday morning, after Labour MP Clayton Cosgrove informed him.

Four Goleman employees (Richards, Doner, Milner and Silcock) provided Cosgrove with written statements and a copy of the tests results at his mobile office in Rangiora on April 29.

“These are some very serious allegations. We’re talking about patients, staff and Goleman workers being exposed to potentially contaminated material,” Cosgrove said.

Meates said he was confident CDHB staff acted “promptly and appropriately” when they were first alerted to the possibility of asbestos being present in the roofing material.

“I would like to stress that at no time has there been any concerns for patient or staff safety.”

A CDHB spokeswoman said last night there she would find out if the workers had had access to hospital wards.

– © Fairfax NZ News


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Patients had asbestos risk, say workers