1 May 2014

Asbestos – lighting designer fights disease

Lighting designer and Star Events Centre entertainment manager Steve Wickham has settled out of court with asbestos manufacturer James Hardie. Steve has a fatal lung condition caused by exposure to fibro in 1994, and took court action that led to startling revelations by a former Hardie CEO.

In the case, new evidence arose that will assist other victims in future compensation hearings. Steve’s lawyer found the evidence, which led to Hardie’s settling his case on confidential terms.

Steve is still working, following successful treatment. “I intend to work as much as I can”, he told CX. “I’ve been through Chemotherapy and was fairly sick in that period. Now I’m stabilised and feeling pretty good – I’m fine in normal work conditions.”

His case was one of the first involving third line victims, where Steve demolished a structure build of Hardie Fibro in 1994. His lawyer Tanya Segelov, from law firm Turner Freeman stumbled on a book by former managing director of James Hardie Industries, David MacFarlane. His testimony led to the firm settling with Steve.

Steve’s diagnosis of mesothelioma followed severe lung pains when yawning or breathing deeply, last August. The condition is fatal.

“I really hope the case helps others in the future”, he said.

While Steve’s case is specific to demolition, the issue of remnant asbestos cable on stage lighting equipment is very relevant.

Virtually all lighting equipment built prior to 1975 came with these cables, and by the nature of the asbestos cable itself, they tended to fray easily which led to a lot of replacement. Which in turn exposed people (such as the author) to the risk of this disease.

Here are some pictures, to help identify asbestos cables on stage lighting.



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