TAS: Former asbestos firm tries to make amends

Source: Safety Culture

A long-established asbestos factory in Tasmania's rural north is turning a new leaf as a way of atoning for its past.

The cement company, based near Railton, manufactured asbestos products from 1947 to 1986. It was one of only three companies in Australia to rely heavily on producing asbestos for its business.

The company's new owner is spearheading a project to remove asbestos from its plants. The project includes health checks to workers and conducting investigations of the harm done from years of producing asbestos products.

The company's general manager of health and safety said the company aims to be the country's leader in the cement industry.

"That doesn't just mean about being the most profitable business," he said.

"We believe that our guiding principles around how we deal with safety issues and how we treat our people are tested most times like these and with projects like these."

To show it is serious about its project, it is opening its old books to a historian for documentation. It is the only asbestos manufacturer to open its books to public scrutiny.

Three thousand workers were exposed to asbestos at Railton. According to the company, it has settled forty compensation claims with those who suffered from an asbestos-related disease.

Half of the claimants are former employees, while the other half is composed of the workers' kin and other people who worked with its products.