Asbestos is a mineral that was used in Australia in a variety of ways. While asbestos continues to be used in many parts of the third world (and is still mined in Canada), its use stopped in Australia for everything but brake linking during the 1980′s and from brake linings in 2003.
What are the different types of asbestos?
There are three main forms of asbestos fibre including crocidolite (blue); amosite (brown) and chrysotile (white) asbestos. The first two are described as amphibole asbestos while white asbestos is known as serpentine.
Much of the asbestos commercially used in Australia was from South Africa or Canada although large quantities of asbestos were also mined in Australia at Wittenoom in Western Australia (where blue asbestos was mined) and in Northern New South Wales at mines including Baryugil and Barraba.
In terms of danger, crocidolite is considered the most harmful to health due to the needle-like shape of the fibre, followed by amosite and then chrysotile. However, all asbestos is dangerous and there is no “safe” level of exposure. There has been much debate about whether exposure to chrysotile on its own can cause mesothelioma but the latest evidence confirms a direct link between chrysotile and mesothelioma.
We have achieved many important victories including: The first verdict for a child born at Wittenoom and exposed to blue asbestos dust in the township. The first verdict on behalf of a victim who was working with brake lining materials as a fitter in an engineering firm.
In 2001 James Hardie (as it currently operates) attempted to separate itself from the liabilities created by its old asbestos businesses. They attempted to do this by creating a fund that would pay all future asbestos liabilities and then moving all the other companies overseas.
Up until the 1980′s, asbestos was widely used for insulation and sound proofing in Western Australia.
In many commercial and industrial buildings, power stations and onboard ships, asbestos was sprayed as insulation and sound proofing on bulkheads, beams, columns and ceilings.
Exposure to dust and fibre released from new brake linings, shoes or clutches when fitting, including chamfering, grinding and riveting, can cause asbestos diseases such as asbestosis or mesothelioma.
Over the last 25 years Turner Freeman has acted for persons exposed to asbestos at work including asbestos manufacturing workers, navy personnel, laggers, plumbers, electricians, carpenters, shipbuilders, roofers, fitters, boilermakers, riggers, railway workers, waterside workers, pipe layers, mechanics and power station workers as well as those exposed to asbestos as a result of home renovations and washing clothes.