Blue Mountains council to contact ex-employees following mesothelioma death of former worker

Blue Mountains City Council will seek to contact all its ex-employees from the last 10 years following the death of a former council worker from mesothelioma in January.

Councillors will vote on the policy change at the next council meeting on February 25 after being contacted by the partner of the former worker who died, aged 64, from the asbestos-related disease.

Nancy Marlor said it was the dying wish of her partner, Morris Pugh, that council contact former workers like himself and offer screenings for the deadly disease.

Mr Pugh worked for council from 1980 to 2015 as a plant operator in a wide range of outdoor areas. The couple lived in Springwood before moving to Queensland in May last year.

Former Blue Mountains City Council worker Morris Pugh. Mr Pugh retired from council in 2015 and died from mesothelioma in January this year.

Former Blue Mountains City Council worker Morris Pugh. Mr Pugh retired from council in 2015 and died from mesothelioma in January this year.

"Morris' first concern after receiving his diagnosis was that men who had left the council before and after him should be contacted and arrangements made for them to be screened regularly," Ms Marlor wrote to Blue Mountains mayor, Mark Greenhill, on February 9.

"I promised him that I would address this issue after his passing."

In response to the plea, council proposes to seek to contact fellow workers of Mr Pugh who have left council since 2010 to inform them of his death and how they can access free medical screening and health assessments. They may also be provided with access to counselling support, if required

Council's chief executive officer, Dr Rosemary Dillon, said: "We are extremely saddened by the news of the passing of Mr Pugh and have offered council's sincere condolences to his family. While it is impossible to pinpoint where, when and exactly how Mr Pugh contracted the disease, the fact is he was a former employee and we care for him.

"There is an opportunity for the council to respond to his wishes related to informing his co-workers about the availability of screening services and supporting them with the provision of counselling services, if required. Further, the council can ensure that retiring staff receive a range of information to support their health and well-being, including information about dust disease screening services."

Mr Pugh's partner issued a statement thanking Dr Dillon, the mayor and the other councillors "for their support in helping me to fulfill Morris' wish".

"Morris' extended family would like to encourage his former workmates to contact workmates who left BMCC prior to 2010, if they are still in contact with them, to advise them to contact the icare Dust Disease Service via link on icare.nsw.gov.au or by phoning 1800 550 027," the statement read. "This service provides information about dust diseases and offer free screening services. The staff are very supportive, so please don't hesitate to contact them.

"We would like to thank all of Morris' workmates for being such great mates to Morris and for the beautiful floral tribute they sent for him. He was very fond of his workmates and the family felt that we knew you all personally in a most positive way.

"We acknowledge Bernie Banton for his legal campaign and battle with asbestosis and mesothelioma. Without his efforts, the risks involved with working with asbestos would not have been made public."

Blue Mountains mayor Mark Greenhill said council had the opportunity to go above and beyond current legislation. Council is not required by NSW law to provide health monitoring services for past employees.

"It is imperative that council leads with compassion in circumstances like this and I wholeheartedly support what the CEO is proposing," he said.