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Notify Sea King maintenance staff of potential exposure to asbestos, union urges

Unite has called on defence secretary Penny Mordaunt to ensure that all Ministry of Defence (MoD) staff who worked on the Sea King helicopters are warned they may have been exposed to asbestos.

Image credit: Graham Quick/Shutterstock
Last year it was revealed that asbestos-containing material was used in 90 of the helicopters’ components, including seals and gaskets, which may have affected an estimated 1,000 workers who carried out aircraft maintenance between 1969 and 2018, when it was decommissioned.
 
Since then Unite said it has been campaigning for the MoD to inform workers they could have come into contact with the hazardous material. 
 
However, the MoD said it did not have a “central record” of those who carried out maintenance work and much of it was undertaken by contractors rather than by its employees.
 
Unite national officer Jim Kennedy said: “It is simply not credible to believe that the MoD does not have records of the workers who operated on military bases.”
 
According to the MoD, “major contaminated components” on the Sea King fleet had been replaced by 2006, with remaining items assessed as “low risk” and contained inside components that were not often taken apart. These were replaced with asbestos-free alternatives “when routine maintenance allowed”, it said. 
 
However, last year an investigation found that the MoD’s supply chain “had not been purged of asbestos components” when a routine maintenance training activity on a retired Sea King airframe found presence of the material in an exhaust panel seal. 
 
Action was then taken to remove these components from the supply chain.
 
A spokesperson for the MoD told Forces News: “We have been completely transparent throughout this process and have published comprehensive information for those who may have been exposed in the past, detailing the actions they should take.” 
 
The union has called on the MoD to: identify all current employees who may have been exposed to asbestos; offer follow-up counselling or access to medical checks for current and former employees; and notify all former MoD employees who may have had contact with the Sea King helicopters. 

 

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Comments

  • The MOD have been much l

    Permalink Submitted by Tony Carey on 8 May 2019 - 02:14 pm

    The MOD have been much less than transparent over this affair. I worked on the Seaking Helicopter from 1971 until I retired in 1989 and at no time has anyone from the MOD contacted me to inform me of my exposure to contamination.
    Were it not for the actions of my colleagues via social media I still would not be aware of the health hazards I have faced or am still facing.

    reply
    • True and same here with

      Permalink Submitted by Rajesh Radhamony on 9 May 2019 - 05:01 pm

      True and same here with me too Mr Tony Carey. I had been working on Seaking from 1999 to 2014 in Naval Aviation wing of Indian Navy. Still not aware of health hazard I had faced or now facing.

      reply
    • True and same here with

      Permalink Submitted by Rajesh Radhamony on 9 May 2019 - 05:04 pm

      True and same here with me too Mr Tony Carey. I had been working on Seaking from 1999 to 2014 in Naval Aviation wing of Indian Navy. Still not aware of health hazard I had faced or now facing.

      reply
  • I worked on Sea Kings in

    Permalink Submitted by Jim Davidson on 9 May 2019 - 06:25 pm

    I worked on Sea Kings in the RAF from 1992 until my retirement in 2006 and knew nothing about asbestos in equipment. The MoD are trying to hide this and have been anything but transparent. I fear that it is going to take the death of some poor unfortunate before they will admit anything. So much for the Forces Charter.

    reply
  • The bigger issue here fo

    Permalink Submitted by on 10 May 2019 - 10:00 am

    The bigger issue here for me is that the MoD continued to store and use asbestos up until last year (?) which not only meant people removing old parts where historically exposed, but people recently and now again in the future will be exposed as asbestos has been put in to service nearly 20 years after the ban....

    reply
  • I worked on Seakings fro

    Permalink Submitted by Tony Hicks on 11 May 2019 - 01:06 pm

    I worked on Seakings from 71 until 73 based at RNAS Culdrose. I have had no contact from MOD on this matter.

    reply
  • They know the units oper

    Permalink Submitted by Tim Wilkins on 13 May 2019 - 03:28 pm

    They know the units operating Seakings therefore can trace servicemen

    reply
  • I worked on them and Lyn

    Permalink Submitted by Tim Wilkins on 13 May 2019 - 03:33 pm

    I worked on them and Lynx. Both have asbestos issues MOD has remained quiet. I was covered with Coolinoil made from depleted Uranium. MOD hopes we will die quietly

    reply

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