27 Dec 2002

Concerns about asbestos affecting workers at Nadi airport

11:43 am on 27 December 2002

Hundreds of incoming passengers and customs officers at Fiji's Nadi International airport are being exposed to the health threatening substance asbestos.

The Fiji Times reports customs officers are receiving medical treatment and are awaiting blood test results while some security officers are complaining of skin irritation and itching.

The newspaper says work on the removal of asbestos from the customs arrival hall began on Monday this week and a team of customs officers who went to clear passengers arriving from Honolulu were the first to be affected.

One customs officer is quoted as saying he began feeling drowsy from the asbestos laden air immediately after starting work, his eyes became bloodshot and he had to receive medical treatment.

Other customs officers say the parts of the arrival hall from where the asbestos is being removed were left covered in dust.

Their in-house union representative, Allen Lockington, says the lives of many passengers and workers are at risk when such work is not carried out safely and he will take the issue up with the occupational health and safety unit of the labour ministry.