Date Released: 16 April 2014
SIPTU members at the Naval Base in Haulbowline in Cork have asked the Department of Defence to provide a medical person with competence in the area of asbestos related diseases and illnesses to answer a series of questions about the nature of their exposure to the substance while working on the Le Ciara vessel last month.
The civilian employees were exposed to asbestos while carrying out maintenance work involving the removal of gaskets made of ‘compacted asbestos fibre (CAF).’ The removal of the gaskets entailed scraping, blowing and grinding the material which may have involved the release of asbestos fibres into the air and the breathing zones of the workers involved.
The workers were not informed of the potential hazards involved in removing the gaskets and were not informed in advance that they contained CAF.
SIPTU Organiser, Jason Palmer, has sought clarity from the Department of Defence as to any potential health issues that may arise for the workers and their families.
“We have been promised that a medical screening programme will be put in place. We have also asked whether a Risk Assessment was carried out before the work commenced. In addition, we believe that the Naval Service should provide a medical person with competence in the area of asbestos related diseases and illnesses to answer a series of questions which we have put to the Navy at Haulbowline in recent days,” Jason Palmer said.
He said that the Department of Defence has been extremely tardy in responding to the deep concerns of the workers concerning their potential exposure to asbestos. SIPTU has thirty members at the Haulbowline complex.