$1.7M lawsuit filed over alleged historic exposure to asbestos at former James Hardie sites

$1.7M lawsuit filed over alleged historic exposure to asbestos at former James Hardie sites

A former plant operator has filed a $1.7 million lawsuit against a former employer after he claims he developed asbestos and other related conditions from work dating back more than 40 years.

The man worked at the Amaca Newstead and Wacol factories – formerly James Hardie and Coy pty Ltd – between 1973 and 1979, where he says he was exposed to asbestos fibres.

He has filed a claim in the Supreme Court and says during his employment he was required to “handle, remove and otherwise work with raw asbestos fibre, asbestos cement products and debris of asbestos cement products” in buildings that were “contaminated with asbestos dust and fibre.”

The man has accused his previous employer of failing to provide workers with protective equipment and requiring workers to wear it. Additionally, he claims they weren’t appropriately warned about minimising exposure to asbestos-containing materials that could lead to injury or illness.

He says he “inhaled the asbestos dust and fibre that was released and/or liberated into his breathing space and onto his hands, clothes, work environment, and person generally.”

“(He) developed asbestos-related pleural plaques and asbestosis,” the claim said.

The man alleges he has and will continue to suffer pain and loss of amenities of life and that he has been left with a permanent disability. He says he requires ongoing hospital admission, medical care, and numerous surgeries.

He is suing Amaca Pty Ltd for $1,730,250 for negligence for allegedly breaching its duty of care to employees. In the claim, he has alleged that the company either knew or ‘ought to have known’ that workers were at “risk of developing a serious injury, illness or disease including asbestosis related pleural plaques or asbestosis”.

The documents outline that on July 11, 1971, the “Asbestos Rule” was introduced under the Factories and Shops Act 1960, with allegations that the legislation applied to both factories where the man worked.

“The Asbestos Rule required exhaust appliances to be provided and maintained to prevent the said asbestos dust and fibre entering the air in the immediate vicinity of the plaintiff and other employees,” the claim stated.

Amaca is likely to defend the claim, with notice of intention to defend filed in the Supreme Court.

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