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A Queensland man who was recently diagnosed with the asbestos cancer mesothelioma has issued an urgent warning to his former colleagues at a Brisbane factory to seek legal and medical advice.
Maurice Jarden, 64, who lives south of Brisbane in Regents Park, recently won a substantial six-figure compensation sum for being exposed to a dusty asbestos environment at his workplace, OI Glass Packaging in Brisbane, from 1987 until the first half of 2010.
Slater and Gordon asbestos lawyer Carl Hughes said his client started working at the West End factory, OI Glass Packaging, then known as ACI Glass Packaging, on a production line labelling bottles some 23 years ago.
Mr Hughes said Mr Jarden took a break for the three years in 1988 but when he returned in 1991 he worked on a mezzanine floor labelling machines under a dusty, exposed asbestos roof. Mr Jarden said he could recall that the air in the factory was always full of dust.
"You could look up and see the asbestos roof above you," Mr Jarden said.
"In the early 1990s, a section of the roof was replaced. The job took about three weeks to complete, and I was required to stand underneath the area to ensure other workers didn’t enter while the work was being carried out.
"I can recall being covered in dust at the end of every day when the roof was being replaced.
"On one occasion, the roof caved in and fell to the mezzanine floor. I cleaned it up, and was covered with asbestos dust by the end."
Mr Hughes said it was a regular occurrence that when a forklift hit one of the factory's main posts, a considerable amount of dust would fall from the ceiling. Mr Jarden, who also worked at the company as an auditor and a quality controller, took a redundancy from the company in March 2010. Only three months after retiring, Mr Jarden was diagnosed with mesothelioma, and now faces a long battle with chemotherapy treatment.
"People should know that no matter what contact they have had with asbestos, whether it be in the workplace, in the mines or working with asbestos, the dangers are very real," Mr Jarden said.
Slater and Gordon asbestos lawyer Carl Hughes said the workers compensation settlement would help Mr Jarden and his wife face the financial battles of their health problems during their retirement years.
"Asbestos continues to haunt the Australian landscape and our communities. It is a sad fact that we are seeing an increasing number of cases like Mr Jarden’s," Mr Hughes said.
"People who worked at this factory in West End can contact us to have their names and work history put onto our asbestos register for future reference, in case it’s ever required."
Mr Hughes said someone did not have to be diagnosed with an asbestos illness to be on the register.
"But by registering they are helping build up our information and resources in case a compensation claim needs to be made and the information on the register may also assist others who have been affected," he said.
"The register is easily accessible for the purpose of the investigation, preparation and the running of a compensation claim."