Asbestos is a substance that was widely used in the construction of buildings and in many other industries throughout the UK during the last century. However, it eventually became clear that asbestos is highly dangerous; when inhaled, the fibres can cause permanent damage to the lungs and respiratory system. As health-related symptoms often don’t appear for several decades after the asbestos exposure took place, it can come as a real shock to victims when they experience a serious, and often incurable, illness as a result of something that happened many years ago. Asbestos was finally banned in all forms in the UK in 1999, but, for many decades before this, employers had a duty of care to protect their workers if they came into contact with asbestos during the course of their employment. Many employers failed to do so, resulting in thousands of unnecessary deaths since. Even now, there are over 5,000 asbestos-related deaths a year in the UK. Many of these victims were exposed to the toxic material back in their early working life.
Asbestos may still be present in buildings, homes, workplaces and commercial spaces that were constructed before the late 1990s. Whilst asbestos isn’t considered dangerous when in good condition, sealed and undisturbed, renovation works, demolition or fires can cause asbestos fibres to become airborne and present a significant risk to those in the vicinity.
With both historical asbestos exposure and current day dangers to contend with, asbestos is never far from the news. This roundup looks at some of the ways in which asbestos has been making the headlines in June 2019.
An asbestos clean-up operation is being organised following a large fire on an industrial estate in Widnes, Cheshire. Halton Borough Council, which covers this region, has been working with fire specialists to determine what needs to be done to remove any asbestos materials that may have been released during the fire, including any that might be found in residents’ gardens. Residents have also been provided with a phone number to call if they find substances they believe to be asbestos containing material, and have been warned not to touch any such materials themselves.
An inquest has heard that a man from Kent died from an asbestos-related cancer after being exposed to asbestos at the country estate where he worked for almost a quarter of a century. Peter Solley was diagnosed with mesothelioma, an aggressive cancer that is most often caused by asbestos exposure, in December 2018 and died just a few months later, in March 2019. Before his death, Mr Solley made a statement about his duties at Quex Park in Birchington-on-Sea, where he was employed between 1982 to 2006 as their maintenance man. He recalled carrying out repairs on farm buildings and boilers, many of which he believed were made from asbestos, without any form of protective equipment or clothing.
A former teacher at a Southampton College claims that he was exposed to asbestos whilst working there. John Slade, 70, has recently been diagnosed with cancer, which he believes was caused by exposure to asbestos when working in former army barracks at Richard Taunton College. Mr Slade used to teach pottery classes in makeshift huts that were only intended for short-term use when they were built in the 1940s. He also reported using asbestos gloves to remove hot items from the pottery kiln. An investigation by Hampshire County Council is ongoing.
If you have recently been diagnosed with an asbestos-related illness, or a close family member has, it can be difficult to know where to go for the best advice and support. Dedicated Accident Solicitors are experts in asbestos-related claims and have helped many victims and their families across the UK to get the compensation they deserve. We can offer professional and compassionate legal advice and also help you to access the practical support and help that you might need. Call us today to find out more, on 01332 897 222.