Media reports regarding asbestos in Sea King Helicopters

Shipmates,

Following a number of recent media reports regarding asbestos in Sea King helicopters, RNA Central Office has posted the following on it’s Facebook page (which has been replicated in full below).

It includes the last link at the bottom of the article, which takes you to the Royal British Legion website with a piece on compensation for servicemen affected by mesothelioma.

“Newspaper reports Sea King asbestos alert,

Ministry of Defence officials are said to have issued a health warning to veterans and current serving military engineers and maintainers who worked on Sea King helicopters, according to a national newspaper report.
The Mail on Sunday said that the alert, over the presence of asbestos in components, is aimed at personnel who maintained the helicopter since it entered service in 1969.
The number of people covered by the alert, predominantly Royal Navy and RAF, runs into the thousands, although this warning is not believed to include aircrew.
Asbestos fibres, when inhaled, can cause serious illness, including mesothelioma, a type of cancer that can develop in the lining of the lungs and chest wall. Such conditions may not become apparent until decades after the fibres were inhaled.
However, the BBC reports British Lung Foundation advice that most people exposed to asbestos do not develop serious illnesses – although they should tell their GP and mention any symptoms of coughing, shortness of breath or chest pain.
The Mail on Sunday claims to have seen a ‘secret document’ outlining the measures the MOD is taking, and that all Sea King components and stores which contain asbestos will be withdrawn – although the helicopter is now in its twilight years with the Senior Service, having been all but replaced by the Merlin.
The issue had been raised in September 2003 in Health and Safety Executive minutes (HSC/03 M09) when the Sea King was cited as an example of the process by which the MOD was attempting to remove from their inventory items and components believed to contain asbestos.
According to the minutes (paragraph 3.4), “in 2000, 49 items that contained asbestos were identified.
“By 2001, 36 suitable alternatives had been found and the Sea King was forecast to be asbestos free by late 2005.”


The Mail on Sunday report can be seen at http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-6098759/Thousands-engineers-feared-inhaled-deadly-chemicals-working-Sea-King-helicopters.html 

The Health and Safety Executive minutes are at http://www.hse.gov.uk/aboutus/meetings/hscarchive/2003/160903/cm09.pdf 

For details of the Royal British Legion mesothelioma campaign see www.britishlegion.org.uk/get-involved/campaign/asbestos-related-cancer-and-the-military/ which also contains links to Veterans UK and various compensation schemes.”

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