Railton asbestos project a national first

Updated October 31 2012 - 11:18pm, first published December 11 2008 - 2:05am

IN what they say is a first, the Australian Workers' Union and Cement Australia have embarked on a research project into the health of current and former employees at its Railton plant.The plant produced asbestos cement products from the 1940s upto the 1980s.The company says that some of Australia's top researchers would look at health screening, the history of the plant and research into the wellbeing of the workforce. The Tasmania cement plant housed a factory that produced asbestos cement products from 1947 to 1986 at the then Goliath Cement Company. Since taking over the plant, Cement Australia has undertaken a significant site rehabilitation program, spending more than $5 million to remove asbestos containing materials and improve awareness of where asbestos containing materials may have been located in the past.Former employees of the Railton plant will also be invited to participate in health screening.``With a comprehensive lung health assessment process already in place for current employees, we will focus on former and retired Goliath company employees who will be invited to participate as the study gauges the number of people who have been affected over time,'' Railton operations manager Steve Brass said.The AWU's occupational health expert Yossi Berger said the results of the study would progressively trigger relevant and accurate medical and environmental actions.AWU branch secretary Ian Wakefield said a prioritised removal program was underway at Railton with the union and the company working together to go beyond a risk assessment based approach.

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