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Report A "Breakthrough" On Chemical Poisoning

Coroner's Report A "Breakthrough" On Chemical Poisoning

Health spokesperson Sue Kedgley today said a recommendation for extensive research into the health effects of industrial chemicals was a breakthrough in recognising workplace chemical poisoning.

Wellington coroner, Gary Evans found today that Geoffrey Francis, who died instantly in November 2000 when he stepped in front of a commuter train, was suffering from solvent induced neurotoxicity and was very anxious and depressed.

"As the sad case of Geoffrey Francis shows, workers have often found it impossible to get chronic conditions recognised before their health is irrevocably damaged, or in the worst cases, before they die," said Ms Kedgley.

"More research on workers suffering from industrial chemical poisoning must be started immediately. Vulnerable employees include those working in the printing, painting, fibreglassing, spraypainting, boat building and shoe-making industries.

"But much more needs to be done than just research - ongoing monitoring of chemicals in the workplace is urgently needed, as is a plan to eliminate the most toxic chemicals as soon as possible."

Ms Kedgley said the Green Party had initiated an expert panel to advise the Minister on gradual process injuries, including chemical exposure, as part of their support for the Government's ACC reforms in September last year.

"ACC has been far too slow to accept research that links health effects like lethargy, muscle pain, nausea and depression with chemical exposure in the workplace.

"The expert panel will help ACC lift their performance in this area. Hopefully this coroner's recommendation will give ACC another boost in the right direction."


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