Asbestos takes a tragic toll: ‘people will continue to die’
The son of a former telephone linesworker who died over the weekend from mesothelioma has lashed out at Telstra for failing to alert former employees who were exposed to asbestos that they may have inhaled the deadly substance.
One of Australia’s leading asbestos lawyers believes Telstra faces a massive unquantifiable liability from the removal of ageing asbestos lining from hundreds of thousands of telecommunications pits and pipes.
Turner Freeman managing partner Armando Gardiman said Telstra had been long aware of its potential exposure to liability for asbestos-related claims arising from the pits, as it had been paying out former lines workers who contracted the deadly mesothelioma disease since the mid-1980s.
Telstra chief executive David Thodey will meet Federal Workplace Relations Minister Bill Shorten, Communications Minister Stephen Conroy, NBN Co and unions in Canberra on Monday. They will debate calls for an asbestos compensation fund sparked by claims that residents and workers have been exposed to asbestos in the construction of the national broadband network.
Mr Gardiman said many Telstra pits made by James Hardie and CSR subsidiary Wunderlich contained all three forms of asbestos – including the most deadly blue type from Wittenoom.