During the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s asbestos spray fibre was commonly used for fire proofing and sound proofing. Asbestos fibre was sprayed onto the structural steel and concrete slabs so as to prevent fire from doing structural damage to buildings. Asbestos spray fibre was used on almost all of the ships built by BHP at Whyalla and on many commercial buildings in Adelaide including the Reserve Bank building in Victoria Square, the John Martins, Myer and David Jones buildings in Rundle Street, the Advertiser Building on King William Street, parts of the Royal Adelaide and Flinders Hospital and parts of the Adelaide and Flinders University.
Big hoses were used to spray the asbestos, with much of the fibre not sticking, but bouncing off the ceiling. In addition to the very high exposures suffered by the workers spraying the asbestos, other workers on the sites, as well as other workers nearby, including office workers and shop attendants, were exposed to and breathed in asbestos fibres.
Turner Freeman has acted for many other workers present on building sites and on board ships when asbestos spraying was carried out, or who have disturbed asbestos spray fibre when carrying out maintenance or repair work. Through detailed investigative work we have been able to commence proceedings against former employers, occupiers of buildings or the companies carrying out the spraying work.
Mr. Richardson worked for John Martin’s at it’s Elizabeth store as a maintenance painter in the 1970s and 1980s. As part of his job he removed and repainted ceiling panels. As he removed the ceiling panels dust fell onto him and his scaffold, including asbestos dust from asbestos sprayed in the ceilings years before.
Twenty-five years later Mr. Richardson contracted mesothelioma. He sued his employer and Bradford Insulation, who carried out the asbestos spraying years earlier. Mr. Richardson died after his evidence was taken but before his claim was finished. His Estate continued his claim and a claim was also made by his widow. Both claims were successful. Bradford Insulation unsuccessfully appealed the decision.
Mrs. P worked at the Johns Martin department store on Rundle Street during the 1950s and 1960s. During her employment major building work was carried out. As part of the building work, steel beams and structures were sprayed with asbestos. The store remained open during the building work and Mrs. P walked past where the spraying was being done daily.
Forty years later Mrs. P contracted mesothelioma. She brought proceedings in the District Court of South Australia against the company carrying out the spraying work. Her claim settled out of court for a confidential sum.