Navy (New Zealand) veteran’s landmark compensation deal has others with Parkinson’s fearing trichloroethylene

Hundreds of New Zealanders may have been affected by a toxic chemical in a wide range of workplaces, a Weekend Herald investigation has found.

The discovery follows a landmark compensation pay-out to a New Zealand navy veteran who proved links between exposure to the solvent during his military service and his Parkinson’s disease.

The Herald reported last month that Veterans Affairs has provided the ex-serviceman with an entitlement to disability compensation for Parkinson’s, a condition attributed to his exposure to trichloroethylene (TCE) while degreasing and cleaning electronics on a Royal New Zealand Navy ship during the 1948-1960 Malayan Emergency.

The Weekend Herald has since tracked down other men who fear their handling of TCE in the 1960s, 70s, and 80s could have caused their debilitating diseases and who now want to pursue their own compensation cases.

A former New Zealand Post Office telephone exchange technician, a naval dockyards apprentice and an aircraft engineer have all spoken about using TCE in their workplaces for years, without any health and safety precautions.

None of them used gloves or breathing apparatus while being exposed to the potent halocarbon that was popular across an array of sectors and workplaces in New Zealand, including garages, railway and aircraft workshops, and other depots.

“Trichlo was strong enough to bowl you over,” said 65-year-old Steve Walker, an ex-New Zealand Post Office employee at the Balclutha exchange, who now struggles with Parkinson’s. “It seeped into your skin, into your clothes. It took over you completely.”

Dave Schafer, a 58-year-old who used TCE weekly while cleaning instruments on Navy frigates during a five-year apprenticeship at the Devonport naval base, said: “Holy cow, that stuff was powerful. But as apprentices you kept your mouth shut and did your job, you didn’t rock the boat.”

Parkinson’s New Zealand, the Returned and Services’ Association (RSA), and those spoken to by the Weekend Herald, all believe there will be many more New Zealanders – hundreds if not thousands – who have been exposed to TCE over the years.

“Researchers have suggested there could be a significant lag time between exposure to TCE and the onset of Parkinson’s,” said Parkinson’s New Zealand chief executive Deirdre O’Sullivan.

“As such, we have reason to believe there could be many more serving and/or ex-serving NZDF people in a similar situation to this veteran.”

The potentially precedent-setting Navy veteran’s decision was made on appeal to the independent Veterans’ Entitlements Appeal Board, which considered appeals against decisions made under the War Pensions Act 1954.

It was made possible by ground-breaking international research including a major 2011 study on TCE exposure that concluded it was likely to result in a sixfold increase in the chances of developing Parkinson’s.

Read more on the New Zealand Herald’s website

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Interesting that the New Zealand Herald article discusses exposure in the 1960s, 70s, and 80s. No mention of the 1990s onwards obviously because the industries there using the chemical copped on in the 1990’s.

Unfortunately the Irish Air Corps was still exposing personnel to Trike, (without protection) in ERF / Avionics in the 1990s and well into the first decade of this century and likely elsewhere in Baldonnel & Gormanston

DELAY – DENY – DIE

European Commission – Pregnant Worker Directive 92/85/EC

Directive 92/85/EC – Pregnant Workers

Introduced 19th of October 1992

Pregnant woman standing outside on a sunny day

Objective

The objective of this Directive is to protect the health and safety of women in the workplace when pregnant or after they have recently given birth and women who are breastfeeding.

Contents

Under the Directive, a set of guidelines detail the assessment of the chemical, physical and biological agents and industrial processes considered dangerous for the health and safety of pregnant women or women who have just given birth and are breast feeding.

The Directive also includes provisions for physical movements and postures, mental and physical fatigue and other types of physical and mental stress.

Pregnant and breastfeeding workers may under no circumstances be obliged to perform duties for which the assessment has revealed a risk of exposure to agents, which would jeopardize their safety or health. Those agents and working conditions are defined in Annex II of the Directive.

Member States shall ensure that pregnant workers are not obliged to work in night shifts when medically indicated (subject to submission of a medical certificate).

Employers or the health and safety service will use these guidelines as a basis for a risk evaluation for all activities that pregnant or breast feeding workers may undergo and must decide what measures should be taken to avoid these risks. Workers should be notified of the results and of measures to be taken which can be adjustment of working conditions, transfer to another job or granting of leave.

The Directive grants maternity leave for the duration of 14 weeks of which 2 weeks must occur before birth.

Women must not be dismissed from work because of their pregnancy and maternity for the period from the beginning of their pregnancy to the end of the period of leave from work.

Annex I – Non exhaustive list of agents and working conditions referred to in Art.4 of the directive (assessment and information)

A. Agents

1. Physical agents where these are regarded as agents causing foetal lesions and/or likely to disrupt placental attachment, and in particular:

(a) shocks, vibration or movement;

(b) handling of loads entailing risks, particularly of a dorsolumbar nature;

(c) noise;

(d) ionizing radiation (*);

(e) non-ionizing radiation;

(f) extremes of cold or heat;

(g) movements and postures, travelling – either inside or outside the establishment – mental and physical fatigue and other physical burdens connected with the activity of the worker within the meaning of Article 2 of the Directive.

2. Biological agents

Biological agents of risk groups 2, 3 and 3 within the meaning of Article 2 (d) numbers 2, 3 and 4 of Directive 90/679/EEC (¹), in so far as it is known that these agents or the therapeutic measures necessitated by such agents endanger the health of pregnant women and the unborn child and in so far as they do not yet appear in Annex II.

3. Chemical agents

The following chemical agents in so far as it is known that they endanger the health of pregnant women and the unborn child and in so far as they do not yet appear in Annex II:

(a) substances labelled R40 (limited evidence of a carcinogenic effect), R45 (May cause cancer), R46 (May cause inheritable genetic damage), and R47 (May cause birth defects) under Dangerous Substances Directive (67/548/EEC) in so far as they do not yet appear in Annex II;

(b) chemical agents in Annex I to Directive 90/394/EEC (Protection of workers from the risks related to exposure to carcinogens) ;

(c) mercury and mercury derivatives;

(d) antimitotic drugs;

(e) carbon monoxide;

(f) chemical agents of known and dangerous percutaneous absorption.

B. Processes

Industrial processes listed in Annex I to Directive 90/394/EEC.

C. Working conditions

Underground mining work.

Annex II – Non exhaustive list of agents and working conditions referred to in Art.6 of the directive (cases in which exposure is prohibited)

A. Pregnant workers within the meaning of Article 2 (a)

1. Agents

(a) Physical agents

Work in hyperbaric atmosphere, e.g. pressurized enclosures and underwater diving.

(b) Biological agents

The following biological agents:

– toxoplasma,

– rubella virus,

unless the pregnant workers are proved to be adequately protected against such agents by immunization.

(c) Chemical agents

Lead and lead derivatives in so far as these agents are capable of being absorbed by the human organism.

2. Working conditions

Underground mining work.

B. Workers who are breastfeeding within the meaning of Article 2 (c)

1. Agents

(a) Chemical agents

Lead and lead derivatives in so far as these agents are capable of being absorbed by the human organism.

2. Working conditions

Underground mining work.

*****

The Irish Army Air Corps only started carrying out “adequate” risk assessments in the past year so for 25 years pregnant females at Baldonnel were dangerously exposed to Carcinogens, Mutagens & Teratogens.

Any pregnant females working in proximity to running aircraft or aircraft being refueled, such as in the ramp area, or downwind of the ramp were exposed.

  • Exhaust gasses contain Carbon Monoxide as well as TetraEthyl Lead and other hydrocarbon fumes.
  • AVGAS – 100LL  refuelling fumes contained Gasoline, Tetraethyl Lead, Toluene, Xylene, Ethylbenzene, Cyclohexane, n-Hexane, Trimethylbenzene, Naphthalene and Isopropylbenzene.
  • AVTUR – Jet A1 refueling fumes contain Kerosine, Ethylbenzene, Xylene and Isopropylbenzene.
  • Fuel System Anti Icing additives used by the Irish Army Air Corps included 2-(2-methoxyethoxy)ethanol which is a known to cause reproductive and developmental toxic effects.

Furthermore pregnant females working in or entering into Avionics, ERF or Engineering Wing hangar were being exposed to further known Carcinogens, Mutagens and Teratogens including Dichloromethane, Isocyanates & Trichloroethylene to name but a few.

Due to the fact that the working dress & overalls of technicians were (and still are) brought home to be washed in domestic family washing machines it is extremely likely that pregnant spouses & partners of Air Corps personnel were also affected.

This may have lead to miscarriages, stillbirths, lifelong genetic diseases & developmental conditions such as autism in the children of personnel.

European Commission – Young people at work directive (94/33/EC)

Directive 94/33/EC – Protection of Young people at work

Introduced 22nd June 1994

Objective

The aim of this Directive is to lay down minimum requirements for the protection of young people at work.

Definitions

The directive gives legal definitions for the terms “child”, “adolescent”, “young person”, “light work”, “working time” and “rest period”.

Contents

Member States shall take the necessary measures to prohibit work by children. They shall ensure, under the conditions laid down by this Directive, that the minimum working or employment age is not lower than the minimum age at which compulsory full-time schooling – as imposed by national law – ends or 15 years in any event.

This Directive shall apply to any person under 18 years of age having an employment contract or an employment relationship defined by the law in force in a Member State and/or governed by the law in force in a Member State. Exceptions can be adopted by Member States for occasional work or short-term work, involving domestic service in a private household or work regarded as not being harmful, damaging or dangerous to young people in a family undertaking.

The Directive defines “young people” as people under the age of 18 and “children” as young people under the age of 15 or who are still in full-time compulsory education in accordance with national legislation. Adolescents are young people between the ages of 15 and 18 who are no longer in full-time compulsory education in accordance with national legislation.

Member States may make legislative exceptions for the prohibition of work by children not to apply to children employed for the purposes of cultural, artistic, sporting or advertising activities, subject to prior authorisation by the competent authority in each specific case; to children of at least 14 years of age working under a combined work/training scheme or an in-plant work-experience scheme, provided that such work is done in accordance with the conditions laid down by the competent authority; and to children of at least 14 years of age performing light work. Light work can also be performed by children of 13 years of age for a limited number of hours per week in the case of categories of work determined by national legislation.

‘Light work’, as defined in the Directive, shall mean all work which, on account of the inherent nature of the tasks which it involves and the particular conditions under which they are performed is not likely to be harmful to the safety, health or development of children, and is not such as to be harmful to their attendance at school, their participation in vocational guidance or training programmes approved by the competent authority or their capacity to benefit from the instruction received.

Employers shall adopt the measures necessary to protect the safety and health of young people, taking particular account of the specific risks which are a consequence of their lack of experience, of absence of awareness of existing or potential risks or of the fact that young people have not yet fully matured. Employers shall implement such measures on the basis of a comprehensive assessment of the hazards to young people in connection with their work according to Art 6/2 of the Directive. The assessment must be made before young people begin work and when there is any major change in working conditions.

The employer shall inform young people and their representatives of possible risks and of all measures adopted concerning their safety and health.

Member States shall prohibit the employment of young people for:

  • work which is objectively beyond their physical or psychological capacity;
  • work involving harmful exposure to agents which are toxic, carcinogenic, cause heritable genetic damage, or harm to the unborn child or which in any other way chronically affect human health;
  • work involving harmful exposure to radiation;
  • work involving the risk of accidents which it may be assumed cannot be recognised or avoided by young persons owing to their insufficient attention to safety or lack of experience or training;
  • or work in which there is a risk to health from extreme cold or heat, or from noise or vibration.

In addition, the Directive contains provisions relating to working hours, night work, rest periods, annual leave and rest breaks.

Each Member State is responsible for defining the necessary measures applicable in the event of infringement of the provisions of this Directive; these measures must be effective and proportionate to the offence.

*****

It appears the Air Corps failed this directive as soon as young people (apprentices) set foot inside the gates of Casement Aerodrome. At the of time this European Commission directive was issued crumbling asbestos on central heating pipework was present in all 4 landings of the old hostel apprentice accommodation. In fact in previous years apprentices were ordered to carry out asbestos removal without any training, PPE or health surveillance. 

Please also note that on the 11th of September 2017 the HSA wrote to the Irish Army Air Corps requesting….

It should be confirmed that the findings of Asbestos Surveys for relevant buildings at the facility, or the corresponding Registers of Asbestos-Containing Materials {ACMs), have been brought to the attention of  building managers and/or incorporated into the building management system. You are referred to relevant HSA published guidance – Practical Guidelines on ACM Management and Abatement, Section 7.

Human rights of members of the armed forces

Recommendation CM/Rec(2010)4 of the Committee of Ministers to member states on human rights of members of the armed forces

(Adopted by the Committee of Ministers on 24 February 2010 at the 1077th meeting of the Ministers’ Deputies)

J-51.  Current and, where applicable, former members of the armed forces should have access to information with regard to their exposure during service to situations, either past or present, which were or are potentially hazardous to their health.

When public authorities, including military authorities, engage in hazardous activities which might have latent adverse effects on health, they should put in place an accessible and efficient procedure which enables persons involved in such activities to access all relevant and appropriate information.

In addition, authorities should not only to disclose this type of information, but also to refrain from imposing a long and complex procedure to obtain such information.

Minister Paul Kehoe T.D. appears to be in breach of the human rights of Air Corps Chemical Abuse Survivors as his department refuses to inform military personnel who served in the Irish Army Air Corps of the hazardous & toxic chemicals they were actually exposed to in the working environment.

Dutch Department of Defence knew about toxic paint risks 25 years ago

Letters obtained from health and safety inspectors and minutes of meetings reveal that the Defence Ministry was aware of the health risks associated with carcinogenic paint since 1987, but did not take steps to protect staff until eleven years later, according to broadcaster NOS.

Nearly two hundred defence employees complained about chromium-6, a toxic substance in the paint and varnish used on tanks and fighter aircraft in a number of workshops. Earlier this month, a historical investigation was launched by the National Institute for Public Health and Environment to investigate all complaints.

Article originally published 2nd October 2014

Read more on the NL Times website

Dutch Ministry of Defence pays out €2.1 million so far in Ex Gratia Chromium-6 Exposure Compensation Scheme.

So far the Ministry of Defense paid out more than 2.1 million euros to 309 employees and former employees who became ill after working with paint containing carcinogenic substance Chromium-6, a Defense spokesperson confirmed to NU.nl.

The Defense workers in question took advantage of a goodwill scheme the Ministry instituted two years ago for Chromium-6 victims. Employees and former employees who worked with the toxic paint for more than a year and are sick can claim between 3 thousand and 15 thousand from the scheme, without the Ministry of Defense acknowledging guilt for their illness. The compensation scheme will remain in place until public health institute RIVM finished its investigation into the risks and health effects of using Chromium-6.

According to the spokesperson, Defense employees from across the Netherlands applied to the scheme. The Ministry received a total of 719 applications, 255 of which were immediately approved. Another 54 were approved or partly approved after the employee objected.

The compensation scheme shall remain in force until the National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM) research into the risks and health effects of Chromium-6 has been completed

Read more on the NL Times website

http://nltimes.nl/2017/02/27/defense-pays-eu21-million-toxic-paint-victims

Parliament of Australia – Committee Activities (Inquiries & Reports)

On Thursday 25 June 2009, the Joint Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade tabled its report on the inquiry into RAAF F-111 Deseal/Reseal workers and their families entitled Sealing a just outcome: Report from the Inquiry into RAAF F-111 Deseal/Reseal workers and their families.