Were Hospital Patients Exposed to Asbestos?

Government investigators are looking into claims that contractors may have unwittingly exposed hospital patients and staff to asbestos while doing repair work on the facility’s roof.

Subcontractors for an exterior building firm were removing moss and lichen from the roof of the earthquake-damaged Christchurch Hospital in New Zealand when they became worried that the material they were working with contained asbestos, according to The Press.

Samples were taken for testing and test results came back positive for asbestos. But the subcontractors who were exposed claim they were never informed by Goleman Exterior Building Care about the positive test results or advised of the potential health and safety risks of asbestos. They are worried for themselves – and furious that they may have exposed patients and staff to the toxic material.

The workers submitted a sample for testing to the Canterbury District Health Board (CDHB) on March 27, according to The Press. The CDHB in turn sent the sample to an external chemical risk management company, which confirmed the presence of asbestos on April 2. The CDHB advised Goleman to stop work immediately, but instead, work continued for the next 10 days.

During that period, workers claim they walked through corridors and patient wards and even used the same elevators as hospital staff and the public.

On April 10, workers approached the hospital’s project manager with their concerns and the site was immediately shut down. Two days later, a second test came back positive for asbestos. The Press reports that several of the workers believe that Goleman handled the situation poorly, putting the workers, hospital staff, and patients at risk of asbestos exposure. Goleman disputes the assertion; however, a government investigation of the workers’ claims is now underway.

Exposure to asbestos can lead to a number of devastating illnesses, including asbestos lung cancer and malignant mesothelioma, an aggressive and incurable cancer.

If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with mesothelioma, contact the experienced asbestos attorneys at Sokolove Law for a free case consultation today.