asbestos

“Crystalline silica is the new asbestos, but Australians are simply not aware of the dangers involved in working with such a common substance as compressed stone,” Victorian Trades Hall Council (VTHC) secretary Luke Hilikari said at the release of the new silica dust standard in late August.

There has been a significant rise in the number of workers suffering silicosis and lung cancers caused by inhaling silica particles while manufacturing, cutting and installing compressed stone benchtops.

More than three years after Category 4 Cyclone Lam lashed the Galiwin’ku community on Elcho Island, residents are asking why the rebuild is taking so long.

Electricians working on the Sydney Opera House renovation scored a win on October 9 after they stopped work over asbestos on site. SafeWork NSW issued a Prohibition Notice to builder Laing O'Rourke banning work on ceilings where friable asbestos was identified.

It ordered the main contractor Downer to conduct an independent inspection of the site.

This meets the demands raised by Electrical Trades Union (ETU) members who walked off the job on October 6.

ETU organiser Stewart Edward said the victory came because of strong collective action by union members.

The CFMEU told a Senate inquiry building materials containing asbestos, formaldehyde and cheap glass that explodes are being imported and used in Australian building sites.

Assistant national secretary of the CFMEU Construction Division Brad Parker said the Australian Border Force was seriously under resourced to intercept the arrival of dangerous building products.

Asbestos is a thriving industry and asbestos lobbyists have set their sights on south-east Asia as the next frontier for new trade markets in the Third World. This was outlined at the recent annual South East Asian Ban Asbestos Conference, held in Jakarta in November.

Police dragged local residents out of a Sydney Park protest camp at 3am on September 20 so WestConnex contractors working for the private Sydney Motorway Corporation (SMC) could set up a construction site and begin work destroying thousands of trees in the park.

WestCONnex Action Group spokesperson Colin Hesse said: “The police had assured us numerous times that we were camping lawfully on public land, therefore they wouldn’t be taking any action to remove us from the site.

I had a call from Rosalie Kunoth-Monks the other day. Rosalie is an elder of the Arrernte-Alyawarra people, who lives in Utopia, a vast and remote region in the "red heart" of Australia.

The nearest town is Alice Springs, more than 300 kilometres across an ancient landscape of spinifex and swirling skeins of red dust. The first Europeans who came here, perhaps demented by the heat, imagined a white utopia that was not theirs to imagine; for this is a sacred place, the homeland of the oldest, most continuous human presence on earth.

Mesothelioma is a particularly virulent form of lung cancer. From the date of diagnosis the average life expectancy of a person with the disease is just 155 days.

There is only one way a person can contact mesothelioma: by exposure to the fine particles of asbestos dust that cannot be seen by the naked eye.

The latent period from exposure to diagnosis can be many decades. So the first battle for sufferers seeking compensation was overcoming the legal hurdle in Commonwealth and state jurisdictions known as the statute of limitations.

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