The latest advice from the Ministry of Defence (MoD) for the estimated 1,000 former employees, who could have been exposed to asbestos while maintaining Sea King helicopters, ‘does not go far enough’.

The criticism from Unite, Britain and Ireland’s largest union, came as the MoD said today (Wednesday 5 December) that veteran and former civilian employees ‘may wish’ to complete ‘MoD Form 960 Asbestos – Personal Record Annotation’ - if they ‘consider’ they have been exposed to asbestos from the Sea Kings.

Unite had previously argued that ex-maintenance staff servicing Sea King helicopters since 1969 would not know of the form’s existence in 2018.

Unite regional officer Caren Evans said today: “It still doesn't go far enough, as the onus is still on ex-employees, contractors, and civilian and military personnel to contact the MoD.

“Our call was for the MoD, through its records, to contact all of the above who may have worked on the Sea King.
 
“So, while the recognition of the gravity of the situation is partially welcome, there remains an ambivalence as to the seriousness of the situation.
 
“MoD has a duty of care to all current and ex-employees - and at the moment, it is abdicating that responsibility.

“We are in a classic Catch 22 situation, as how on earth would former employees know of this form’s existence -  ‘MoD Form 960 Asbestos – Personal Record Annotation’ – and that it can be accessed in 2018.

“More importantly, unless they knew they had been exposed to asbestos, it wouldn’t be on their radar to record this exposure.

“This makes it imperative that the MoD steps up its efforts, including national advertising, to track down former employees so they can be screened for asbestos that can develop over many years.
 
“The MoD keeps records for security purposes so would have a record of those who had serviced and worked on the Sea Kings since 1969.

“We demand the MoD now checks its records thoroughly to identify all ex-employees and contact them as matter of urgency, so it can fulfil its duty of care to former staff, however long ago they worked on the Sea Kings.”

ENDS

Notes to editors:

The MoD has said that a number of components fitted to the Sea King were made of asbestos and, despite a modification programme in 2006 to replace those parts, a recent investigation revealed that ‘not all the parts had been purged from the supply chain’

Unite recently launched an online register so that members can quickly and easily record when they have been exposed to asbestos, and that information will be stored in case it is ever needed.

To access the online register go to:
 
https://www.unitelegalservices.org/surveys/asbestos-questionnaire

For more information please contact Unite senior communications officer Shaun Noble on 020 3371 2060 or 07768 693940. Unite press office is on:  020 3371 2065

Email: shaun.noble@unitetheunion.org

Twitter: @unitetheunion Facebook: unitetheunion1 Web: unitetheunion.org 

Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest union with members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey.