Special support service for former sawmill workers exposed to PCP

The Special Support Service for Former Sawmill Workers Exposed to PCP is a service designed to assess the health needs of former sawmill workers who were exposed to pentachlorophenol (PCP) at sawmills during 1950s to 1980s, and to help them access services to support wellness.

About the service

The Service aims to help people stay healthy by promoting healthy lifestyles, reducing modifiable risk factors, and supporting the early detection of diseases.

The Sawmill Workers Service was announced on 23 June 2010, and includes:

  • information and advice for doctors, other health practitioners, and patients about historical exposure to PCP and subsequent health risks
  • a free annual health check provided by a doctor
  • access to health promotion initiatives, like programmes to reduce cancer risk
  • counselling and other primary mental health services
  • a service to help people access other social services that they are entitled to; and

The Ministry of Health, in consultation with Sawmill Workers Against Poisons, funded a research hui held in Whakatane in October 2010 that brought together a group of epidemiologists and researchers to discuss and develop a study design to look at what effects, if any, there may have been on spouses and/or children of former sawmill workers. Health officials supported an application by Ngati Awa Health and Social Services for a Ngā Kanohi Kitea Development Grant, which was approved by the Health Research Council in July 2011.

More information

Eligibility for the service

Eligibility for the service is on the basis that an individual worked in a place at a time when exposure is likely to have occurred. People are eligible if they:

  • worked in a sawmill where PCP was used; AND
  • worked in jobs that used PCP chemicals or if they came into contact with PCP baths/tanks or if they worked with timber that was still wet from the PCP treatment process; AND
  • worked in these jobs for at least one year; AND
  • are eligible to use publicly funded health services in New Zealand (eg, New Zealand citizens).

Guidance and application form for former sawmill workers

Further information on the Sawmill Workers Service can be found below or by calling the Health Support Service Helpline on 0800 288 588:


Application form

Guidance for doctors

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