A Queensland grandmother, diagnosed with pleural mesothelioma after working at a recycling plant in Sydney in the early 2000s, says the cause traced back to illegally dumped asbestos fibres that she handled at her place of work.
Ms. Marsh worked sorting rubbish for a labour-hire company between 2000 and 20005, often for 12 hours at a stretch. She says she and other workers commonly came across tin roofing parts and chicken wire – which they sorted out from recycling and discarded, unaware that the items could contain asbestos.
In January 2020, Marsh was diagnosed with pleural mesothelioma, and has filed claims of compensation through the NSW Dust Diseases Tribunal. She alleges that her exposure stems from her time at the Sydney plant, where she claims asbestos building materials were illegally dumped into general plastic and paper recycling.
“I never thought it would have asbestos in it,” she said.
Marsh is joined by others seeking compensation for exposure.
Marsh is considered part of a “third wave” of Australians suffering asbestos-related disease, most of whom were exposed to the substance in their workplaces even if they weren’t part of construction or demolition work crews. Asbestos was phased out of building materials as early as the 1980s, and its manufacture stopped completely in 2003, but older materials keep showing up in workplaces, and 4000 Australians die annually from asbestos-related diseases, including mesothelioma.
Common building materials such as roofing, flooring and fencing can cause exposure to asbestos. With greater awareness of the substance’s threats and the commonality of contaminated materials turning up across the country, people are being diagnosed more quickly, but the ravages of “dust disease” can still mean their medical outlook is grim. However, early diagnosis does allow time for many to file compensations claims, hopefully to help take care of families they may leave behind if they succumb to related illness.
The NSW government recently released its planned Asbestos Waste Strategy, which called for removal of a levy in place on the disposal of up to 250 kilograms of asbestos. Officials hope the levy will encourage lawful disposal and help prevent illegal dumping of asbestos-contaminated waste, which accounts for up to 8% of all illegal waste across NSW, creating public health and environmental hazards. Corporations face a maximum penalty of $2 million for illegally dumping asbestos, while individuals can be fined up to $500,000.
If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with asbestos due to workplace exposure, contact Gerard Malouf & Partners Compensation, Medical Negligence & Will Dispute Lawyers for a free consultation.