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Workers who were employed at the former SGIO building (now the Suncorp Metway Plaza building) in Brisbane during the 1980s are being warned about the dangers of asbestos, after the recent diagnosis of an Everton Hills man with mesothelioma.

Slater and Gordon is pursuing a claim on behalf of a 69 year old man, who was diagnosed with the asbestos-related cancer mesothelioma in November this year. The client worked in the former SGIO building, located on the corner of Albert and Turbot streets, as a CTP insurance investigator from 1988 to 1992.

Slater and Gordon asbestos lawyer Carl Hughes said it was not the first time that the firm had investigated asbestos exposures arising from the SGIO building.

“Sadly, this workplace has reared its ugly head again. The first confirmed diagnosis of mesothelioma relating to the SGIO building occurred more than 10 years ago,” Mr Hughes said.

“And with the diagnosis of asbestos-related cancers usually occurring 20-30 years after exposure, it therefore becomes a problem later in the victim’s life.

“Mr Hughes said it was alleged that his client, who does not wish to be named, had been exposed to and inhaled asbestos fibres in the course of his employment as a result of poor renovation works which took place in the building in the 1980s.

It is alleged an asbestos based lagging was sprayed on steel framework as a fire retardant within the SGIO building. SGIO then contracted a company to remove asbestos from the building, a process which is thought to have been completed throughout the 1980s. It is thought asbestos fibres were circulated throughout the building via the air conditioning, exposing possibly hundreds of workers, including the client, to dangerous asbestos fibres.

Despite it being early days since his diagnosis, Mr Hughes said his client has already begun to suffer from shortness of breath and an increase in fatigue.

“My client now has to cope with the burden of expensive medical costs such as specialist and hospital visits, medication, and travel costs for appointments and treatments. He will also need further treatment and care in the not so distant future. Mesothelioma is an extremely aggressive form of cancer, with no proven cure.

“Asbestos is very dangerous when it’s disturbed, and people should know that no matter what contact they have had with asbestos, the dangers are very real.”

The client is concerned that his former colleagues may not be aware of the dangers they were potentially exposed to.

“I don’t think many people were aware that the renovations took place, or that an office worker sitting at their desk could be exposed to asbestos,” he said.

Mr Hughes said that he is hoping to hear from other people who may have worked with his client or inside the current Suncorp Metway Plaza building, during or after renovations.

“Our Brisbane office has already completed other successful claims on behalf of former workers at the SGIO building, and their families, who went on to develop an asbestos related disease.”

“We believe there is no risk to people currently working in the Suncorp Metway Plaza building.

“While it’s certainly not the case that everyone who has been exposed to asbestos develops an asbestos-related illness, it is important that these employees put their name on the Slater and Gordon asbestos register, or contact a doctor for a general health check up, he said”

Mr Hughes said people could register their details with Slater and Gordon. Slater and Gordon’s asbestos register builds a database of workplaces where asbestos has been used, and is a comprehensive reference point in the event that workers develop an asbestos-related disease.

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