Workplace health and safety report names asbestos as biggest risk, but group worries about multi-chemical exposure

Report tackles occupational risks for shipyard workers.

An initial report on cancers among shipyard workers is falling short, the Marystown Shipyard Families Alliance says.

A report ordered by the Workplace Health, Safety and Compensation Commission (WHSCC) highlights asbestos exposure as long as four decades ago as the biggest risk.

The lobby group for sick former employees and surviving family members has commissioned a medical consultant to do an analysis of the report, but they criticize that the report is too generalized and does not take multi-chemical exposure into account, which is a big concern at Marystown Shipyard.

Many of the shipyard workers are forced to do their job indoors if the weather conditions and workload demand it and may be exposed to a wide range of chemicals in the process.

According to the WHSCC, the report provides a comprehensive view of the dangers and risks in shipyard workers and will help in the process of adjudicating claims from workers.

The report does take the negative health effects of lead, solvents and pigments into account, which become an occupational health hazard for workers who are painting ships.

However, the biggest risk seemed to be exposure to asbestos fibers, which led to higher rates of mesothelioma and cancer of lung and larynx for shipyard workers. The highest levels of exposure to asbestos occurred before the mid-1970s, the report says.

The risk may be compounded by personal choices like smoking, the experts warn.

Source: The Southern Gazette

Improving indoor air quality inside shipyards

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