A recent investigation has uncovered that a group of railway employees were exposed to asbestos when working on a train that had been shipped in from China, which could lead to the development of mesothelioma or other lung diseases.
Reports show the deadly carcinogen was found in a set of trains that were shipped to Australia, which breaches the ban that has been in place on asbestos imports for 10 years now. However, industry representatives say this is not an isolated incident, and that the Australian government needs to do more to protect its workers.
Asbestos was discovered in 10 heavy haul trains from China, and what's most concerning is that all trains bore the certificate that was meant to prove they were free of asbestos. Now, the Rail Tram and Bus Union is urging the New South Wales government to do a better job of keeping anything made with the substance out of the state.
Bob Nanva, national secretary of the union, said many workers are concerned about operating the state's Waratah fleet, of which some cars were purchased from China. He stated the group is not confident that anything produced in the country and imported to Australia is asbestos free.
An audit into asbestos use
Mr Nanva stated the government should consider performing a full audit of the entire Waratah fleet so it can prove the asbestosis-causing substance is not a threat.
"If they can't do so and can't give the public that assurance then we will be asking for a full audit of these trains," he said.
"To ensure there aren't any asbestos components buried deep away potentially putting the public and workers at risk."
Before the asbestos was discovered, the government told the union that it should not worry about asbestos exposure because all the right measures were in place to protect workers.
"They were assured on numerous occasions that there was nothing to be alarmed about, but on subsequent testing of that dust they have identified asbestos," he said.
Still, the government is holding on to its belief that there is no cause for concern. Transport NSW added that it has stationed inspectors in China to ensure no asbestos is used during the production of any trains.
Anyone who believes they may have been exposed to the deadly substance may want to get in touch with asbestos exposure lawyers to learn what compensation is possible.