AT LEAST 80 former Bendix Brakes employees have signed up to a register amid fears they might suffer medical issues associated with exposure to asbestos while working at the Ballarat factory.
Former employees claim the company, now known as FMP Group, was aware of the dangers posed by asbestos before it stopped using the product in 2003.
Many say they worked extremely closely with asbestos for years on end, unaware of the potential dangers.
According to the most recent figures, 80 former Bendix Brakes and current FMP Group employees have signed up to the database created by law firm Maurice Blackburn.
One former employee, who stopped working at Bendix in 2002 but wished to remain anonymous, said employees were always told asbestos was perfectly safe.
He said workers handled both white and blue asbestos, the latter of which is considered to be the most lethal. Inspired to register with the law firm by the screening of the ABC drama series Devil’s Dust, which portrayed the James Hardie asbestos saga, the former employee became worried he and his colleagues may have been exposed to similar dangers.
“Every single day we would be handling asbestos for hours on end, breathing it in in rooms with sometimes poor ventilation,” he said.
“We even used to roll it in a ball and throw it at each other, that’s the level at which it was available.”
Another former employee said many former workers had since died but given there was a high percentage of smokers among them, it was difficult to find any distinct evidence of asbestosis.
He said during family days held annually, the entire factory was opened to families and children, apart from the areas where asbestos was used.
“If they didn’t know it was dangerous, why did they block it off to people who didn’t work there?” he said.
FMP had no comment when contacted by The Courier. The company invested millions of dollars in the early 2000s to re-engineer the Ballarat factory and to focus on making asbestos-free products.