Power station workers in the Latrobe Valley are being urged to attend an asbestos information evening aimed at those who have previously been at Hazelwood and Morwell power stations.
Organised by the CFMEU in conjunction with Slater and Gordon, the event will outline workers' legal rights regarding asbestos exposure and the importance of registering potential exposure now in case of any future compensation claims.
Slater and Gordon asbestos lawyer Steve Plunket – one of Victoria's most experienced asbestos and dust diseases lawyers with 40 years' experience – will headline the event and talk about his time acting on behalf of the region's power station workers.
CFMEU organiser Duncan MacGregor said the free event would offer a chance for existing and retired workers to voice their concerns and ask questions about the impacts asbestos exposure may have down the track.
"We're accurately aware, given the age of the industry within the Valley, that infrastructure and buildings are rife with asbestos and asbestos-related products," Mr MacGregor said.
"The Morwell and Hazelwood power stations are prime examples.They're riddled with it [and] many workers from the SEC days up until the present have been obliged to work with and around asbestos on a daily basis."
Mr MacGregor said while many people now understood the dangers of asbestos-exposure, they were often unaware of the health implications it could have later in life.
"Although asbestos use began to phase out in the 1980s, a total ban didn't come into place until December 2003," Mr MacGregor said.
"This rubbish is a deadly killer and unlike exposures to chemical-like products which normally manifest short term, asbestos-related illnesses can take years to surface."
Slater and Gordon asbestos practice group leader Steve Plunkett said it was important to document asbestos-exposure, for instance on the company's asbestos-exposure register.
He said it was an opportune time to hold an asbestos-awareness event following the one-year anniversary of Hazelwood's closure.
"It's an insidious disease, it's not like you break your leg. These diseases take usually 30 to 40 years to manifest themselves so its important when you've been exposed and young enough to remember to get it recorded," Mr Plunkett said.
"For many years we've been running a register for people who have been exposed. Unfortunately, in many times we've had to return to that register when somebody comes in and says they've been diagnosed with an asbestos disease, usually cancer."
The event will be held on Thursday, July 26 at 7pm at the Premier Function Centre, Grey Street, Traralgon.
Attendees must register their attendance for this event for catering purposes by visiting trybooking.com/WPHJ or emailing Lindsay.Jones@slaterandgordon.com.au.