Tens of thousands of workers health at risk for days


Unite Union is demanding Worksafe New Zealand does it job and investigates if tens of thousands of workers had their health endangered at work last week. It is also asking it’s members to seek medical advice and lodge ACC claims if they were or are affected by smoke inhalation, which was a clear workplace hazard.

“The SkyCity International Convention Centre burned for days and, particularly on Tuesday afternoon and all day Wednesday, huge amounts of toxic smoke were released into the central city. This is by far the most densely populated area in New Zealand, with well over 100,000 people working there daily, yet many central city workplaces kept their employees working throughout or only closed after hours of exposure.”

Unite had organisers at SkyCity on Tuesday and throughout the CBD on Wednesday visiting sites. Some workplaces, particularly in the public sector, closed and remain closed for a week until they were sure it was safe for their workers. When private sector employers did eventually close, many re-opened before it was possible for the buildings and air conditioning systems to have been cleaned and checked.

“How can it be unsafe for public servants for a week but at the same time safe for casino, fast food, retail and hotel workers in the same or adjacent buildings?”

Despite claims by SkyCity that Worksafe “approved” their re-opening it’s clear that was untrue. A Worksafe staff member was asked to attend a briefing at SkyCity and no independent inspection, investigation, clearance or monitoring of any type was undertaken by them.

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“That’s why we have been asking for written records and reports form SkyCity and but we are now told there were no written reports when they were deciding to re-open.”

“There was a highly visible, immediate threat to health and safety that lasted days in the most densely populated workplaces in the nation, potentially affecting over 100,000 workers. We want to know just what Worksafe actually did and what they are going to do, to protect workers health and safety. Putting out a statement saying ‘In this situation the fumes from the fire may be a risk to people’s health’ without any follow-up, monitoring or checks is just not good enough.”

“We have made numerous attempts over the last week to report our concerns and get them investigating, without any meaningful response. Despite promises to respond by close of business yesterday to our numerous requests for investigations we have still not heard back.”

Worksafe New Zealand needs to investigate both the failure of employers, including SkyCity, to get their workers out of harms way while the fire was burning and the multiple reports of workers with burning eyes, breathing difficulties, heavy coughing, dizziness, nausea and loss of consciousness/fainting upon returning to smoke affected workplaces.

Unite is holding a “Masked Ball” and rally at 7pm tonight (Friday 1st) in Federal St in solidarity with all workers whose health may have been put at risk in the past week. Workers who were forced to stay at work inhaling smoke for up to four hours on Tuesday and workers who were forced back to work at the end of the week and suffered ill effects will be available to speak at the rally.

Email sent to Auckland CBD Unite Union members

Last Tuesday at 1pm the SkyCity International Convention Centre caught fire. It burned for days and released huge amounts of toxic smoke into the city.

Some workplaces closed on Tuesday and remained closed until it was safe again, however many businesses continued to operate through the danger and exposed their workers to the toxic smoke.

If you or any of your workmates have experienced any of the following symptoms, or left work because you felt sick or stayed home sick, please see your doctor, get a medical certificate for anytime you took off and explain to your doctor that it was a work related injury for ACC purposes:
• burning eyes
• difficulty breathing
• heavy coughing
• dizziness
• nausea
• loss of consciousness/fainting

If you have become sick as a result of the smoke exposure or been pressured to work when it was clearly unsafe please let us know at support@unite.org.nz.

If you were required to use leave when your workplace was closed please let us know, making workers take leave in events like this is unlawful.

If you have taken sick leave as a result of the smoke please let us know, the smoke was a work related injury so should not come off your sick leave balance.

Every worker has the right under NZ law to refuse unsafe work – don’t put yourself in danger, the union will support you if you refuse unsafe work.


  1. Workers now need concise very solid written guaranteed paperwork signed by a qualified industrial toxicologist to be given to each separate worker inside each location, specifying the safe duration and time that is is safe to continue to undergo work during the number of days, to months, that it is always safe, and to keep as evidence should any of the workers find they suffer any health effects after any elapsed time after this contract work time as you show here that the claim made by Skycity that it was safe was found to be untrue.

    Quote; “Despite claims by SkyCity that Worksafe “approved” their re-opening it’s clear that was untrue. A Worksafe staff member was asked to attend a briefing at SkyCity and no independent inspection, investigation, clearance or monitoring of any type was undertaken by them.”Workers need solid paperwork given to each worker that is is safe to work after this was found to be untrue.

    I wrote in the earlier discussion last week as the first discussion arose about workers exposure in this Skytower so let me refer again;

    As I was chemically damaged inside the construction of the Toronto building dubbed as a “sick building” that is called “the CBC Broadcast Centre” in 1992.

    That was similar workplace environment without adequate clean air provided became very sick along with 40 other workers then and are still permanently chronically ill, even today by the medical profession diagnosed 27yrs later, so paperwork is vital to workers proving their case of permanent injury in the workplace.

    Anyone worried about storing toxins in their bodies now should request now for a GCMS analysis -diagnosis of their fat (adipose) issues to find how much buildup of toxins are being stored inside their bodies, and it is a simple test by a painless extraction of a small sample of tissue, as this is now the gold standard abroad for water and food testing for chemical toxicity exposure to the human body of exposed workers and consumers of food and water.
    This first site was a solid case proven of a UK worker exposed to ‘toxic poisons from rat poison’ using GCMS analysis.

    Melissa A. Pasquale-Styles,1 M.D.; Mark A. Sochaski,2 Ph.D.; David C. Dorman,2 D.V.M., Ph.D.;
    Willane S. Krell,3 M.D.; Aashit K. Shah,4 M.D.; and Carl J. Schmidt,5 M.D.
    Fatal Bromethalin Poisoning
    ABSTRACT: Bromethalin is a neurotoxin found in some rodenticides. A delusional 21-year-old male presented to a hospital with altered mental status the day after ingesting a bromethalin-based rodenticide. He died 7 days after his self-reported exposure to c. 17 mg bromethalin (equivalent
    to 0.33 mg bromethalin/kg). His clinicopathologic course was characterized by altered mental status, obtundation, increased cerebrospinal fluid pressure, cerebral edema, death, and diffuse histologic vacuolization of the white matter in the central nervous system seen on microscopic
    examination at autopsy. The presence of a demethylated form of bromethalin in the patient’s liver and brain was confirmed by gas chromatography with mass spectrometry.

    Clinical signs and lesions observed in this patient are similar to those seen in animals poisoned with bromethalin. This case illustrates the potential for bromethalin ingestion to result in fatal human poisoning.




  2. In any smoke emitted from fires are containing toxic; quote; (POP’s) “persistent organic pollutants”- chemicals claim this study from; https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3569688/

    So inhalation of those “smoke particles” that contain (POP’s) are dangerous to human health.

    Firefighters the world around have suffered from inhalation of smoke from fires and are already dying from inhalation so workers inside a smoky smelling building will also be exposed until the buildings are rid of the coating that has stained the whole inside/outside of any building close to the fire.

    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3569688/ GCMS analysis of toxins in human adipose tissue for toxins.
    • Environ Health Perspect
    • v.121(2); 2013 Feb
    • PMC3569688

    Environ Health Perspect. 2013 Feb; 121(2): 162–169.
    Published online 2012 Dec 5. doi: 10.1289/ehp.1205485
    PMCID: PMC3569688
    PMID: 23221922
    Toxicological Function of Adipose Tissue: Focus on Persistent Organic Pollutants
    Michele La Merrill,1 Claude Emond,2,3 Min Ji Kim,4,5,6,7 Jean-Philippe Antignac,8 Bruno Le Bizec,8 Karine Clément,9,10,11,12 Linda S. Birnbaum,13,14 and Robert Barouki 4,5,6
    Author information Article notes Copyright and License information Disclaimer
    This article has been cited by other articles in PMC.
    Go to:
    Background: Adipose tissue (AT) is involved in several physiological functions, including metabolic regulation, energy storage, and endocrine functions.
    Objectives: In this review we examined the evidence that an additional function of AT is to modulate persistent organic pollutant (POP) toxicity through several mechanisms.
    Methods: We reviewed the literature on the interaction of AT with POPs to provide a comprehensive model for this additional function of AT.
    Discussion: As a storage compartment for lipophilic POPs, AT plays a critical role in the toxicokinetics of a variety of drugs and pollutants, in particular, POPs. By sequestering POPs, AT can protect other organs and tissues from POPs overload. However, this protective function could prove to be a threat in the long run. The accumulation of lipophilic POPs will increase total body burden. These accumulated POPs are slowly released into the bloodstream, and more so during weight loss. Thus, AT constitutes a continual source of internal exposure to POPs. In addition to its buffering function, AT is also a target of POPs and may mediate part of their metabolic effects. This is particularly relevant because many POPs induce obesogenic effects that may lead to quantitative and qualitative alterations of AT. Some POPs also induce a proinflammatory state in AT, which may lead to detrimental metabolic effects.
    Conclusion: AT appears to play diverse functions both as a modulator and as a target of POPs toxicity.
    Keywords: adipose tissue, aryl hydrocarbon receptor, development, diabetes, dioxin, inflammation, obesity, obesogens, polychlorinated biphenyls, toxicity, toxicokinetics
    Obesity is increasing in developed countries and is a commonly known risk for disorders such as impaired glucose tolerance, metabolic syndrome, diabetes mellitus, liver and cardiovascular disease (CVD), and cancer (Ludescher et al. 2009). Adipose tissue (AT) has historically been considered a simple storage tissue; however, its physiological functions have been appreciably reassessed over the last decade (Lafontan 2012), and evidence for metabolic and endocrine functions of AT has accumulated. More is known about the histological architecture of AT and the role of AT stroma, including immune cells. The pathological contribution of AT to obesity and metabolic disorders such as type 2 diabetes is gaining more attention. Recently, various interactions between AT and persistent organic pollutants (POPs) have been reported, suggesting that this tissue plays a significant role in the kinetics and the toxicity of POPs (Kim et al. 2011, 2012).
    On the basis of these studies, we propose that AT, in addition to its other metabolic and endocrine functions, has diverse toxicological functions: a) AT can store a variety of hydrophobic xenobiotic chemicals, in particular POPs; b) AT constitutes a low-grade internal source of stored POPs leading to continuous exposure of other tissues; and c) AT can be a target for the effects of a xenobiotic chemical that alters AT functions, increases AT inflammation, and/or modulates the differentiation of AT precursor cells. For instance, obesogens are exogenous chemicals (from a nutritional, pharmaceutical, or environmental origin) that directly or indirectly increase obesity through disruption of metabolic, hormonal, or developmental processes (Grun and Blumberg 2007; Schug et al. 2011). Conversely, several POPs are known to induce cachexia, particularly at high doses. In this review, we discuss these issues and present evidence that supports a complex, previously unsuspected role of AT in toxicology.

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