MEDIA RELEASE: AKZO NOBEL PAINT FACTORY MAY HAVE KNOWINGLY EXPOSED WORKERS TO IMPORTED ASBESTOS

Workers at a Melbourne paint factory have demanded answers from their employer today, regarding revelations that staff may have been exposed to asbestos since October 2016.

 

Tests conducted at the plant are expected to show asbestos contamination, but workers have not yet been advised of the results.

 

Quotes attributable to Dr. Paul Sutton, OHS lead Organiser, Victorian Trades Hall Council and Jess Walsh, Secretary, United Voice

 

Workers at a Melbourne paint factory have demanded answers from their employer today, regarding revelations that staff may have been exposed to asbestos since October 2016.

 

Tests conducted at the plant are expected to show asbestos contamination, but workers have not yet been advised of the results.

 

In December 2016, managers at the Sunshine plant instructed two employees to take samples of talcum powder being used in the facility. The workers did not know what they were testing for and did not know there could be asbestos in the product. They conducted the test without wearing protective clothing.

 

The batches suspected of contamination had been used in production processes prior to 12 December 2016 and multiple workers may have been exposed. The employer removed the batches on Saturday 14th January, saying “mineral fibres” had been discovered.

Because talcum powder can be inhaled into the lungs, any asbestos fibres in talcum powder is known as “friable” asbestos. A single exposure to friable asbestos fibres puts workers at risk of developing lung cancer and mesothelioma.

 

The revelation comes as the Victorian Trades Hall Council makes their submission to the federal Senate Inquiry into Imported Asbestos, calling on the Federal Government to pass stronger laws with harsher penalties for importers of asbestos. Importation of asbestos into Australia was banned in 2003, but asbestos is still regularly found in imported goods.

ATTRIBUTABLE QUOTES

Jess Walsh, Secretary, United Voice

“United Voice members have been exposed to imported asbestos in talcum powder. Asbestos is a killer – and our members have been put at risk.”

 

“Dodgy imports are rife and we need to put a stop to it. How many more people need to be put at risk of cancer before the Turnbull Government acts.”

 

Paul Sutton, OHS Lead Organiser, Victorian Trades Hall Council

“The Federal Government’s failure to adequately check for imported asbestos is putting all Australians at risk. Asbestos has just been found

in talcum powder used throughout the paint industry,

but this is far from an isolated case.”

 

“We need stronger laws, better coordination between Border Force and WorkSafe, and more resources for the hard working customs staff to stem the flood of asbestos into Australia.”

 

Media contact: Amy Jenkins, OHS Communications

0424 698 694

ajenkins@vthc.org.au

 

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  • commented 2017-01-26 00:29:59 +1100
    So in theory, anybody that has bought paint from this supplier, applied it, then sanded it once dry has in essence exposed themselves unknowingly to f I able asbestos.

    It may sound rediculous but this incident can potentially effect hundreds if not thousands of people over a long period of time.

    All it takes is a few particles to kick off a reaction in the lungs that lead to cancer.

    Defiantly NOT good….