Top Dutch flower auction exposed employees to asbestos for years
The technical service employees of flower auction FloraHolland were exposed to asbestos for years. The employees sometimes were tasked with heavy duty, including drilling, and found asbestos plates in the FloraHolland building in Aalsmeer. This means the company acted unlawfully, according to the subdistrict court in Amsterdam. If one of the workers concerned falls ill, the company will have to handle appropriate compensation.
In the judgment, the court pointed out that FloraHolland already knew in 1990 that material containing asbestos was present in the building. But statements showed that it was only around 2009 that the company started issuing warnings and instructions to staff about how to deal with it. According to FNV, the same work that was done unprotected for years is now only done when employees wear special protective suits.
It can take a long time for people to become ill, because an asbestos-related disease sometimes only manifests itself after thirty to forty years. "At the moment, no disease has manifested itself, at least as far as we know, but if it does occur, it is now clear in advance that there has been exposure," explained FNV union leader Jeroen Brandenburg.
Regardless, the union’s department handling occupational diseases decided to file the lawsuit now on behalf of about fifteen employees, because the job of managing and maintaining the FloraHolland locations was transferred to real estate company CBRE a few years ago. According to Brandenburg, the ruling prevents people who become ill from having to later start complicated legal proceedings for compensation.
A spokesperson for FloraHolland said on Tuesday evening that he was unable to respond immediately to the verdict. The company still has the option to appeal.