NZPFU supports SkyCity workers' bid to have post-fire illness recognised

The NZPFU stands in solidarity with Unite to have the Sky City workplaces appropriately tested and decontaminated after the toxic Convention Centre fire and any workplace illnesses recognised.

Off-duty NZPFU members are encouraged to support sick Sky City workers at a peaceful protest outside Sky City from 6.30pm this evening. NZPFU members are requested to wear their NZPFU t-shirts and stand with the workers seeking independent analysis of their workplace conditions, and recognition of workplace illness.

Unite has reported 50 Sky City workers have fallen ill since the blaze with respiratory, vomiting, diarrhoea and sore eyes since the blaze. Unite’s records show that approximately 2/3 of those suffering have fallen ill since they returned to work after the fire.

Recently released toxicology reports record the Convention Centre fire smoke contained elevated levels of cancer-causing agents such as arsenic, zinc, and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs).

Firefighters are subjected to these carcinogenic at structure fires and a wealth of international research has demonstrated the nexus between the exposures and the statistically significant of increased incidence of specific cancers and career firefighting. The toxic smoke can be inhaled and absorbed through the skin. The cumulative effect of these exposures are toxic for firefighters. Firefighters are seeking presumptive legislation to recognise their occupational cancers so that they can receive medical assistance and compensation as they would for any other workplace injury.

Firefighters can never be fully protected from repeated exposure as that is the nature of the work and the dynamic incidents they respond to. Decontamination and the cleaning of uniform and gear to prevent ongoing contamination are part of the important carcinogen mitigation programme for firefighters.

Other workplaces can avoid repeated exposure and contamination through testing and appropriate decontamination/cleaning processes. The exposures to these carcinogens must be acted upon and any illness likely to have resulted from these exposures should be recognised. We will support and assist.

In unity,
Wattie Watson
National Secretary

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