The United Steelworkers union met with Newfoundland and Labrador’s Workplace Health, Safety and Compensation Commission on September 9, 2013 to discuss compensation for former miners exposed to asbestos while working in Baie Verte from 1955 to 1992.
Of 145 former workers who filed claims with the commission for asbestos-related diseases, such as cancer, only 45 have had their claims approved.
The USW used the meeting to brief the WHSCC on what it said was the extent of the problem in Baie Verte and on the diversity of diseases — especially cancers — to which asbestos was linked.
The conference between the union and the WHSCC followed a series of four public meetings in the Baie Verte area over the weekend of Sept. 7-8. Hosted by the Baie Verte Miners Registry, which runs a voluntary, 1,003 person strong electronic database of information on locals who worked at the mine, these meetings allowed former asbestos miners to ask questions while receiving advice on compensation claims. King and other USW reps also attended these public meetings.
The main problem surrounding compensation is that provincial standards apply to long-term exposure of asbestos, and doesn’t appear to measure the exposure in terms of intensity or fibres.
Many workers have had intense exposure over shorter periods of time.
Asbestos, a silicate mineral, was commonly used in construction during the late 19th and 20th centuries.