"We have maintained a silence closely resembling stupidity" - Neil Roberts

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Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Employees exposed to asbestos disciplined for speaking out about it:

Employees who spoke out against their bosses for being unknowingly exposed to asbestos at Christchurch Hospital have been summoned to a disciplinary meeting for breaching their contracts by talking to the media. Industrial abseilers Liam Milner & Neil Silcock, who were exposed to asbestos while working on the roof of the hospital in April, believe they could have unknowingly put patients at risk to the poisonous substance while walking through active wards and raised their concerns in the press yesterday.

After the story the pair received an intimidating letter from their employer, exterior building firm Goleman.
The letter invited the men to a disciplinary meeting today to discuss an allegation of serious misconduct. It said Goleman denied the allegations published in The Press and the company was "gravely concerned that you appear to have discussed this matter with the media".

"We are concerned that the above breaches your employment agreement".
Official test results confirmed obtained by The Press confirm the Goleman subcontractors were exposed to white asbestos on the hospital roof site.

The Canterbury District Health Board received positive test results from a sample of the material on the roof on April 2. It informed Goleman and requested it stopped work on the site.

The site was not shut down by Goleman & the staff say they were not told of the positive result or warned about any health or safety issues.

It was not until April 10, when a group of 10 concerned workers approached Fletchers, one of the principle contractors for the hospital repairs, that the site was shut down.

The government is investigating & Goleman could face penalties of up to $500,000 if charges are laid.
Milner, Silcock & two former Goleman employees , who resigned after they found out they had been exposed to asbestos, sougt legal advice before providing documents and written statements to Labour MP Clayton Cosgrove, who then informed the press.

"Our lawyer stated that this was a public health issue so it didn't matter what was said in our contracts", Milner said.

Cosgrove said the letter was "outrageous".  "Rather than dealing with the problem and its massive health risks, Goleman is going to shoot the messenger".
Goleman general manager Luke Goleman could not be reached last night for comment on the disciplinary process.

Radio New Zealand reports that industrial abseiling contractors have grave fears they have spread white asbestos through Christchurch Hospital.
The contractors were repairing the hospital's roof and says the company, Goleman, knew about the asbestos 10 days before the workers were told.
A sample of the roof tested by Chemsafety on 2 April confirmed the presence of white asbestos. But work continued on site until employees reiterated their concerns to the project manager, Fletcher, about 10 days later.
Abseiler Liam Milner says Goleman handled the problem very badly.
"Extremely poorly - they got very defensive, didn't want to take any responsibility or own up to any mistakes being made. And then just basically harassed us and tried to make it go away and keep it under covers."
The site was shut down by Fletcher on 10 April. Goleman would not comment on what measures it took over the asbestos.
Canterbury DHB chief executive David Meates said on Monday he is certain that staff and patients have not been exposed to the health hazard.
"We are absolutely confident that there has been no risk of exposure. There are some access areas that the contractors have been going out and those are the only likely areas there could have been any possible traces."
But another contractor, Neil Silcock, said workers were given swipe cards allowing them wide access to the hospital.
He said he worked on the site for about two weeks and during that time was in frequent contact with staff and patients.
Mr Silcock said he is concerned that he has unknowingly spread contaminated dust via his clothes and equipment through the hospital.

1 comment:

MareeCmiblui said...

If they disturbed the dust, it would have fallen, entering patient rooms through open windows. Patients and Staff have been exposed, but SIlence prevails - how is the CDHB being responsible?