Support For Workers Following Chemical Inquiry

17 March 2016

The Andrews Labor Government will roll out a host of measures to support former Crown Lands workers following an inquiry into historical chemical use by employees.

Fulfilling an election commitment, the Government launched an inquiry after concerns were raised in Ballarat about exposure to the chemicals 2,4-dichlorophenoxyacetic acid (2,4-D) and 2,4,5-trichlorophenoxyacetic acid (2,4,5-T) while working as weed sprayers.

The inquiry focused on the experiences of workers in the Ballarat region between 1965 and 1995, but the response will be expanded to across Victoria, and the following support will be provided:

  • Updating the 1980’s Worker Health Study for the same group of sprayers (1951 to 1970) and compare it with the Victorian Cancer registry
  • Checking former sprayers for a history of chloracne, soft tissue sarcoma and non-Hodgkin lymphoma with individual health screenings
  • Leading a review of current practices in departments and agencies engaged in spraying activities to ensure they meet current standards

The Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP) will now endeavour to contact all former sprayers employed by the government between 1965 and 1995 to provide their free health screenings.

The Government will also work closely with a University to update the Worker Health Study, as it may provide evidence to support a link on the use of 2,4,5 T to soft tissue sarcoma and non-Hodgkin lymphoma.

DELWP will lead the review of current practices in departments and agencies engaged in spraying activities, with selected departments and agencies to be asked to review their auditing processes, including compliance processes, for employees using or exposed to dangerous goods or hazardous substances.

Current and former employees can contact the Department on 1800 987 767 to make arrangements for their free health screening.

Quotes attributable to the Minister for Environment, Climate Change and Water Lisa Neville

“These workers and their families deserve every piece of information – and every assurance – that we can give them.”

“The Andrews Labor Government takes worker health and safety extremely seriously, and we’re reviewing all policies and practices to ensure those past failings do not remain.”

Quote attributable to Labor Member for Buninyong Geoff Howard

“I urge all weed sprayers employed by the state government between 1965 and 1995 to make contact with the Department to organise their free health screening.”

Quote attributable to Labor Member for Wendouree Sharon Knight

“We want to thank all those former employees and their families who came forward to tell their stories and offer vital information for the inquiry.”

Reviewed 19 August 2020

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