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Sam Huggard - CTU secretary. Sam Huggard – CTU secretary.[/caption] Workers have today presented a petition signed by over a thousand New Zealanders calling on the Government to ban the importation of asbestos and develop a comprehensive plan for the removal of all existing asbestos in New Zealand. “Asbestos is the biggest workplace killer in New Zealand. It kills at least 170 workers annually: more than twice as many workers as accidental deaths at work. The number of people dying from asbestos related diseases (lung cancer, mesothelioma, and asbestosis)  is increasing and the Government projections are that it will peak at 300:  higher than the road toll,” said CTU Secretary, Sam Huggard. “New Zealand is out of step with other developed countries. We are still importing asbestos containing products. Australia prohibited the import of all asbestos containing products in 2003.  Similar bans in the United Kingdom date to the late 1990s.” “The CTU, on behalf of all workers, calls for the Government to implement a total ban on the importation of asbestos containing materials. This action is overdue and well behind the action which other countries have taken.” “We are very concerned about asbestos exposure in Christchurch. Public health experts continue to raise concerns about what the impact will be for workers will be in the decades to come.” “New regulations are proposed that will significantly assist in the management of asbestos: These should be given the highest priority.“ “However, much more action is needed. The CTU recommends a twelve-point plan to deal with asbestos.” “Many hundreds more people will die as a result of exposure in the next 50 years.  We should act now to ensure that this is the lowest number possible, and that there are no more unnecessary exposures to asbestos,” said Huggard. – –  ]]>