Once known as the miracle material, asbestos has long been known to cause incurable cancers and other diseases. It is now a banned substance and no new buildings in the UK or Europe will contain asbestos. However, the ban only came into force in 1999, so, it’s not unusual for a building built prior to this to contain asbestos. While the material itself is not dangerous if left undisturbed, even small amounts of exposure can cause harmful diseases that can take decades to show themselves. To help raise awareness of these illnesses, we have compiled a roundup of some of the most recent asbestos-related news from the around the UK.
Asbestos expert Robin Howie, an Edinburgh-based occupational hygienist, who advises on health and safety has said that the expected rise in people living into their 80s and 90s may mean that increasing numbers of men could survive long enough to develop mesothelioma and other asbestos-related diseases
A man in Hampshire died after being exposed to asbestos during his time working as an electrician. The Coroner’s Court was told of how David Wood, from Eastleigh, had developed a ‘vicious’ mesothelioma tumour from his past exposure. The 72-year-old’s work had involved sweeping up asbestos dust without any form of protective equipment. A statement made by Wood before his death stated: “There would be huge clouds of dust around me as I cleared up” He also added that as he progressed through the ranks, his level of exposure increased.
An industrial fire in a disused warehouse in Netherton, Merseyside is believed to have contained asbestos. Eight fire engines were sent to tackle the blaze and firefighters believe the roof of the building, which collapsed due to the fire, had been lagged with asbestos. Brunt asbestos is considered to be dangerous. When the material burns, it degrades the product and the fibres may become airborne, making them easier to inhale unknowingly.
A hostel in Manchester’s fashionable Northern Quarter has been fined £44,000 after exposing workers to asbestos. Hatters Hostel failed to commission an asbestos survey before refurbishing the basement of the 19th-century building, which was once a bowler hat factory. While no asbestos was officially found on the three walls that had been renovated at the time of the health and safety inspection; it was impossible to say if there was any because potential evidence had been destroyed by the project. However, asbestos was found on a 20sqm wall which had not yet been stripped out. Sentencing, Judge Jinder Singh Boora said; “It’s absolutely essential for companies to perform risk assessments. What’s even more important is if the risk assessment relates to risk which, if it manifests, will lead to either serious injury or death. Asbestos is a killer. If one contracts asbestosis or mesothelioma, death is almost inevitable.”
Unfortunately, a diagnosis of an asbestos-related disease can come as a shock, especially as there is currently no cure for many conditions. However, as an industrial disease, it may be possible to claim compensation. For more information and advice on making a compensation claim, either for yourself or on behalf of a family member, contact Dedicated Accident Solicitors for a free initial consultation.