TasNetworks investigates exposure
Former staff from of Tasmania’s state-owned utility company want compensation for exposure to dangerous chemicals.
High concentrations of chemicals including 245T (also used in the Vietnam War-era defoliant Agent Orange) were used by TasNetworks workers with no protective equipment.
Some of the chemicals contained dioxin, an impurity linked to cancers, and have been banned for decades.
Now, 78 former workers have come to the company with concerns about exposure.
TasNetworks has launched an investigation into the scale of worker exposure, but has made no comment yet about potential payouts.
Former Greens MP Paul O'Halloran raised the issue of compensation in Parliament back in 2013, and says the state’s Liberal Government and the company continue to avoid the issue.
“These men were not given any protective equipment, they were not educated in the dangers of using these chemicals,” he told the ABC.
“It seemed to me at the time the dangers of these chemicals were clearly known and I don't think it's been good enough either from the authority or the Government.
“Governments of the day have ducked and weaved on this and I guess that's because of the possible cost of compensation.”
A Victorian Government inquiry in 2015 found Government weed-sprayers were exposed to cancer-causing dioxins through the use of 245T, while similar inquiries in Western Australia have seen some workers compensated.
TasNetworks wants any concerned current or former workers to come forward.
“Our primary focus at the moment is the wellbeing of all our employees and former employees,” a company spokesperson said.
“We are working through this process thoroughly and rigorously, which will take some time, but we are determined to get it right.”
People who believe they may have been exposed are asked to contact WorkSafe Tasmania.