Reopening the case of Kimberley workers exposed to Agent Orange recommended | OHS News

The battle to prove that Agent Orange has cost lives of workers exposed to it continues. Photo: Unsplash, Pixabay

Hazardous_Chemicals_Working_AroundFormer WA agriculture minister Kim Chance says a fresh look is needed into the long-running case of herbicide poisoning in Kimberley.

More than 300 men, mostly Aboriginal workers were employed by Western Australia’s Agricultural Protection Board to spray the herbicide containing the now banned substance 245T to eradicate weeds which were affecting livestock across Northern WA in the 1970s to 80s.

The workers were not provided proper protection equipment and clothing during the course of their work and so they were exposed to the hazardous chemical1)http://www.safetyculture.com.au/swms-on-your-smartphone-tablet/chemicals-hazardous-working-with-swms/. As a result, many of them suffered from health problems like cancer.

The chemical used in Agent Orange was also blamed for birth defects like that of local Derby presenter, Serena Buckle, whose father sprayed the chemical before his death. Serena was born with a defect in which her left arm did not fully develop.

A 2003 government inquiry recommended that at least 27 workers who were still living at the time be compensated, but years have passed and according to ABC, only 8 workers have so far been compensated.

An Aboriginal woman, Lucy Marshall has tried for decades now to obtain compensation for the death of his son, Cyril Hunter in 1983 while working with the deadly herbicide. Her younger son also died from cancer possibly due to the chemicals brought home by Cyril.

A doctor who was part of the first government inquiry in 2003 believes the workers and their families were not given enough attention.

“It has never been resolved and the Government’s response has been simply to look at the whole problem statistically, and when the statistics were not there they really washed their hands of it,” said Dr Andrew Harper.

He said the government should set a fund for the victim and their families.

Mr Chance said that the families are convinced that the chemical poisoning has affected not just the workers but their families as well.

“We know that these chemicals have an effect on DNA,” he told ABC2)http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-07-25/government-inquiry-push-in-chemical-kimberley-poisoning-case/6643150.

“What needs to be done now in the light of intergenerational effects, is perhaps they [the Government] should go back to those first two reviews.”

He admitted he was disappointed with the result of the government’s earlier attempts to address the issue.

“It is clear that what we hoped to achieve wasn’t achieved,” said Mr Chance.

In the US, thousands of Air Force Vietnam veterans and reservists who have suffered from disabilities related to exposure to Agent Orange will finally get disability benefits.

This means that Air Force and Air Force Reservists who served in contaminated C-123 aircrafts are presumed to have been exposed to the chemical during their service, which will make it easier for for the affected workers to claim compensation for conditions related to Agent Orange.

In Australia, the battle to prove that Agent Orange has cost lives of workers exposed to it continues.

This 2013 ABC report provided details of the chemical exposure of Kimberley workers and how this tragedy made a significant impact in the lives of their families.

Reported by Haydee | 03:57pm, Tuesday 28 July, 2015 | Original Source: content.safetyculture.com.au "Reopening the case of Kimberley workers exposed to Agent Orange recommended | OHS News"
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References   [ + ]

1. http://www.safetyculture.com.au/swms-on-your-smartphone-tablet/chemicals-hazardous-working-with-swms/
2. http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-07-25/government-inquiry-push-in-chemical-kimberley-poisoning-case/6643150

Gary Green

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