Exposure to asbestos can cause a number of health issues, such as pleural plaques, asbestosis, lung cancer and mesothelioma, the latter being the most severe form and with the bleakest of prognosis.
If you, or a member of your family, have been diagnosed with an asbestos-related disease, IBB solicitors may be able to help you. To start an asbestos compensation claim or to find out more about how you make a claim, please contact us today by calling 0333 123 9099
Many people diagnosed with mesothelioma were exposed to asbestos as a result of their work and even in relation to the other conditions, although they can be several causes, it is frequently the case that the illness was as a result of being exposed to asbestos in the workplace, or through work, as there are instances where family members have become unwell with an asbestos related disease because of their relationship with the breadwinner.
It is possible to make an asbestos compensation claim by the person who was exposed to asbestos in the workplace, by their family if that person has died (but time-limited) or by other family members in respect of an illness they have been diagnosed with as a result of coming into contact with asbestos through their relationship with the person who worked with asbestos.
Although the vast majority of claims come from people who have worked in the construction and engineering industries, more and more claimants making asbestos compensation claims did not work directly with asbestos and had absolutely no knowledge of the risk of exposure while they were working.
For many years, before it was banned, asbestos was used to insulate pipes, valves and boilers in such places as power stations, hospitals, schools, factories, railways and ships. Asbestos was used to clad walls, in the construction of partitions and ceilings, in tiles, gutters and drainpipes. It was frequently used in the electrical industry and plumbing industry, being used in such products as monkey muck and PC4.
- No WinNo Fee
- FREE inital consultation
- Help with rehabilitation
According to the Health and Safety Executive people doing the following jobs were particularly at risk:
- Heating and ventilation
- Roofing contractors
- Painters and decorators
- Construction workers
- Fire installers
- Gas fitters
- Telecommunication engineers
The dangers of working with asbestos
From the 1800s onwards, asbestos in its various forms started to be used extensively throughout British industry. Its use became widespread because of its many useful physical properties, particularly its resistance to fire, heat, electrical and chemical damage, and, above all, its affordability.
Asbestos resistance to heat and fire led it to be used as a form of electrical insulation for hotplate wiring and in building insulation. The fibres were also commonly mixed with cement to create asbestos cement, which was used to lag pipework woven into the fabric of mats. The flexibility of the asbestos material made asbestos use widespread and asbestos in its various forms could be found in many products, including brake pads and linings, gaskets and fireproof clothing.
The earliest reports in Britain of the possible consequences and damage to health, resulting from exposure to asbestos, began to appear in the late 19th century. The annual reports of the Chief Inspector of Factories recorded as early as 1898 that asbestos had “easily demonstrated” health risks. The first official diagnosis of asbestosis was made in 1924.
However, the true extent of the dangers associated with asbestos, and in particular the dangers that asbestos particles and dust can have on the respiratory system, only really came to light in the 1960s and 1970s.
UK asbestos regulations
The first laws prohibiting asbestos use were introduced in 1985, when importing blue and brown asbestos into the UK was banned. In 1992 some uses of white asbestos (traditionally considered safer than other forms) were also banned. In 1999 all types of asbestos were finally banned in the UK.
Although asbestos is no longer used, there is no requirement to remove it from existing buildings. Asbestos has been used in the building trade and other industries for over 200 years. There are still large amounts of the material in many UK buildings, which means that it continues to pose a very real threat to people’s health today. Indeed, by example there has been an increasing number of individuals who worked in schools, who come forward having been diagnosed with an illness as a result of asbestos exposure. Malcolm Underhill of IBB solicitors has spoken on radio and television about the continuing dangers of asbestos in the workplace, notwithstanding the ban on its use.
The Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012 specify who is responsible for managing asbestos in work environments. The person with this responsibility is known as the “duty holder”. They will usually be the owner of the affected building, the tenant, or the person otherwise in control of the building.
The duty holders’ responsibilities include:
- taking all reasonable measures to find out if there are asbestos containing materials in non—domestic premises.
- Where asbestos is present, determining where it is, how much there is and what condition it is in.
- Creating and keeping up to date a record of this information.
- Assessing the risk of asbestos exposure for anyone entering the building.
- Creating a risk management plan for anyone who may be exposed to the asbestos.
- Taking all necessary steps to put the risk management plan into effect, including making sure anyone at potential risk of exposure knows the location and condition of the asbestos and what they need to do, to minimise the risk of exposure.
If asbestos-containing materials need to be removed from a building this should be done by a licensed asbestos contractor or a trained asbestos contractor, depending on the exact nature of the building and the work being carried out.
How asbestos causes mesothelioma
Asbestos is made up of tiny fibres that are invisible to the naked eye. These fibres can be breathed in by anyone exposed to asbestos. The fibres can then become lodged in the pleura lining around the lungs, or the peritoneum lining around the digestive organs (if they are swallowed).
The body is incapable of breaking down the fibres, but they still trigger an immune response. The natural chemicals the immune system releases to break down foreign objects do not work on the asbestos fibres and instead these chemicals end up damaging the pleural or peritoneal lining (depending on where the fibres are lodged). Over time this leads to genetic mutations which can ultimately cause cells to become cancerous.
Asbestos generally only becomes a problem when it is disturbed and damaged. This can lead to the microscopic fibres being released and becoming airborne. The asbestos can then be inhaled by anyone in the vicinity who is not wearing the appropriate personal protective equipment. Fibres can also become lodged in clothing and then released again at a later point. This means that indirect exposure to asbestos fibres can occur to anyone who comes into contact with someone who has been working with asbestos.
Asbestos fibres cannot be removed once they are lodged in a persons’ body, meaning they remain within a person’s respiratory system or the lining around their digestive organs for years, before symptoms develop.
In the past, the dangers of asbestos exposure were not as well understood, or always taken as seriously as they should have been, by workers and employers. This means the correct precautions were not always taken by employers to ensure that their employees were protected against the dangers of asbestos. As a result, many people continue to develop asbestos-related illnesses today, due to exposure that happened decades ago.
Where a link can be proved between the asbestos-related illness and exposure whilst working, and it can be shown that a company failed in their duty of care to their workers, or others who were indirectly affected, it may be possible to bring a claim for mesothelioma compensation. A claim can be made even if they have not worked for the relevant employer for many years. A claim can also be made for those who did not work for the company.
Treatment for mesothelioma
Mesothelioma is generally very hard to treat, especially as it is often not found until the disease is quite advanced. The exact treatment offered will normally depend on where the cancer is located, how advanced it is and the general health and fitness of the patient.
Treatment options include surgery, chemotherapy and radiotherapy, with many patients receiving some combination of these treatments. Unfortunately, there is no cure for mesothelioma, so the goal of treatment is to reduce the symptoms and extend the life of the patient for as long as possible.
Most patients will end up requiring some degree of palliative care when they reach the advanced stages of mesothelioma. This commonly includes helping them to manage symptoms such as pain, breathing complications and weight loss, to keep the patient as comfortable as possible. It is not unusual for a mesothioma the patient to seek hospice care.
Making a Mesothelioma Compensation Claim
Mesothelioma is a life changing disease, with a very low survival rate. If you or a family member has been diagnosed with mesothelioma it is important to consider how the cost of care will be paid for and how you will cope with the loss of a loved one. If you or a loved one are suffering from mesothelioma, as a result of work-related exposure to asbestos, or any other asbestos-related disease, you may be entitled to make an asbestos compensation claim against an employer or others who were responsible for the exposure.
From our experience and knowledge, we know that over many years the Health and Safety Executive have predicted the gradual decline in the number of reported cases of death arising out of exposure to asbestos. However, there is no obvious sign of a decline. The latest figures, from 2016, show that there were 2,595 mesothelioma deaths in 2016, with an estimate that there were a similar number of deaths due to asbestos related lung cancer.
Only time will tell as to whether the numbers will begin to fall, but with the knowledge that those who were not directly engaged in the use of asbestos but came into contact with it, through their work, such as in schools and hospitals, it may well be that the figure continues to remain unattractively high for many years to come.
Making an asbestos compensation claim
If you, or a member of your family, have been diagnosed with an asbestos-related disease, IBB solicitors may be able to help you.
If you have worked with, or come into contact with, asbestos, due to your employment or the employment of others, you may be entitled to make an asbestos compensation claim. Our specialist lawyers will be happy to talk to you and advise you on the prospects of making a successful claim for asbestos compensation. Our lawyers will work with you sensitively to make sure you are clear about your options and what to expect. We will take all necessary steps to pursue your claim and to secure justice, holding those responsible, fully to account for their failure to protect you from harm.
IBB Claims are the right choice for asbestos compensation claims
To start an asbestos compensation claim or to find out more about how you make a claim, please contact us today by calling 0333 123 9099.
Our team of experts in various aspects of personal injury compensation, including asbestos compensation claims. We have years of experience and are proud to help a wide variety of people in the community to make successful asbestos compensation claims.
We treat each client as an individual, taking the time to understand your unique situation and requirements, so we can offer tailored advice and guidance to help you get the best possible result. We will speak to you in plain English. We do not use jargon and avoid antiquated phrases. You are in control of the claims process and we help you make the important decisions.
When you come to us about making a claim, we will provide a free initial consultation to assess the strength of your claim. We were then give you a realistic idea as to how likely you are to make a successful claim and what compensation you may be entitled to.
Legal aid was taken away by the government many years ago and is now only available in very limited circumstances. However, we offer our clients a “no-win, no fee” agreement. This means you do not have to worry about paying our legal costs if you lose. Members of our team are members of the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers (“APIL”). Malcolm Underhill, Partner, is a fellow of the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers and is an assessor for the Law Society Catastrophic injury scheme. These achievements reflect our strong expertise across all areas of personal injury law and our commitment to maintaining the highest possible standards for our clients.