It looks like you're using an Ad Blocker.
Please white-list or disable AboveTopSecret.com in your ad-blocking tool.
Some features of ATS will be disabled while you continue to use an ad-blocker.
An investigation into a possible link between the National Gallery of Australia (NGA) building and cancer cases recommends the NGA seek another expert opinion on the matter.
The recommendation is the result of a second investigation into the issue, which was instigated amid claims that documents relating to employee sick leave and a report into cluster diseases in the gallery were deliberately withheld from Comcare investigator Robert Wray two years ago.
Mr Wray says the information about five cases of cancer among security staff may have changed his initial assessment, if he had received it.
However, Mr Wray says there is no evidence the information was deliberately withheld.
NGA director Alan Froud says although he has confidence in a report by Health Services Australia that finds no link between the gallery environment and the cancer cases, he will get a second opinion.
PM - Monday, 24 January , 2005 17:30:00
TANYA NOLAN: More damaging news has been revealed, of the health problems that've been plaguing workers at the Australian National Gallery.
The Gallery has denied claims it's been engaged in a cover-up over the matter, after it emerged that an investigator appointed several years ago to look at illnesses amongst workers, was not told about a spate of cancers amongst its security staff.
While there is no evidence of any connection, the information has sparked renewed concerns about the way in which the Gallery complies with its health responsibilities.
And as Marie Scoutas reports, the Opposition will use Senate hearings next month, to reopen its inquiries into the Gallery's handling of the issue.
MARIE SCOUTAS: The National Gallery says it was in 2002 that it realised it may have a problem. While reviewing sick leave it discovered five security guards, four men and one woman aged in their 50s and early 60s had been diagnosed with Cancer in the previous five years.
The Gallery asked a consultant for advice, but Bob West from Health Services Australia says the doctor that examined the cases didn't find any cause for concern.
BOB WEST: He could find no common connecting factor, pointed out that it is not unusual in that particular age group for cancers to occur, and that he couldn't, from the information that had been provided to him, see any connecting factor that would warrant saying that there was one particular thing that had caused it.
The National Gallery of Australia is to conduct a review of all known
and possible cancer-causing substances that may have been used in its
23-year history as it attempts to put to rest concerns about the
building and any possible link to illness in staff.
It is understood the gallery is also reviewing any possible harmful
effects to staff from the 2001 exhibition Islands in the Sun which used
a large amount of sump oil.
The gallery has already this week had a private company survey all
"non-ionising radiation sources" and a report is due to be presented to
it next week. Such sources include items such as photocopiers,
microwaves and visual display units
The National Gallery of Australia and Comcare both knew of cancer cases among gallery security staff but neither thought it relevant to tell a health and safety investigator.
The gallery now acknowledges it should have done so.
This follows the Herald's disclosure that the gallery learned of five cases of cancer among security guards in 2002 - three of whom are now dead - while an investigation was under way.
The Comcare-appointed independent investigator was examining the gallery's health and safety after allegations that it was damaging the health of staff and its priceless collection.
The gallery's deputy director, Alan Froud, admitted yesterday that the investigator, Robert Wray, should have been made aware of the cancer cases.
"With the benefit of hindsight ... probably the sensible thing would have been to say we have got this advice ... in case you have any interest in the matter," Mr Froud said.
FOI documents acquired by the Herald show that Comcare, the Government's health and safety regulator, was also aware of the cancer cases in 2002, as was the security guards' union, the Commonwealth Public Sector Union.