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Case study – brewery and vineyard workers

Asbestos products were widely used in industry up until the 1970′s, including in beer and wine making. Asbestos was used during the filtration process. Asbestos insulation was also used as lagging on steam and hot water pipes and boilers throughout vineyards and breweries. Over the years Turner Freeman has acted for wine makers and brewery employees.

Mr. H

Mr. H studied wine making in Austria. He moved to Adelaide in the early 1970s to work at a winery in Nurioopta. In the early years of his employment, Mr. H came in contact with asbestos sheets used in the filtration process, where the unwanted solid materials or micro organisms like yeasts, bacteria and moulds were removed from wines. During the filtration process the wine was passed through a plate and frame filter. The frame filter contained a filter sheet or pad, which was made from cellulose and asbestos fibres. Mr. H regularly handled the asbestos sheet.

He also came into contact with asbestos insulation used on hot water and steam pipes.

Thirty-five years after he started at the winery, Mr H. became ill and was diagnosed with mesothelioma. He instructed Turner Freeman to act on his behalf and proceedings were brought against his employer. The claim was resolved for a confidential sum prior to trial.

Mr. R

Mr. R worked for a large brewery company in South Australia as a laboratory technician, carrying out analyses of ingredients and samples taken throughout the brewing process. He analysed sugar levels, bitterness and other like things. As with wine, up until the early to mid 1970′s, the filtration process involved beer being pumped through a filter made of a mixture of asbestos and cellulose fibres. The filter got rid of all foreign material so that the beer was a bright colour. As part of his job Mr. R tested the filter to determine its asbestos content.

The brewery, including the laboratory, where Mr. R worked, contained hot water and steam pipes which were insulated with asbestos materials. Mr. R was present on occasions when the asbestos was removed and replaced.

Thirty years later Mr. R suffered symptoms and was diagnosed with mesothelioma. He instructed Turner Freeman who commenced proceedings against his employer. His claim was settled for a confidential sum prior to trial.

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