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Can I Make a Claim for Asbestos Exposure

Can I Make a Claim for Asbestos Exposure

Can I Make a Claim for Asbestos Exposure

Asbestos is a naturally occurring fibrous mineral that was used extensively throughout the 20th century across the UK. Its strength, resilience and natural occurrence made it a popular manufacturing material for many years, and it was most commonly utilised in the shipbuilding, manufacturing, and construction industries.

It wasn’t until the early 1900’s that a link between asbestos use and lung problems was identified and it took until 1999 before it was completely banned in the UK.

Scarily enough, the number of people diagnosed with asbestos-related diseases continues to rise year on year. This is due to the fact that the symptoms of asbestos-related diseases often take many years and in some cases decades, to develop.

In this blog, we will explore who’s the most at risk, the key diseases that asbestos exposure can cause, and all of the details you need to know about making a claim for compensation.

 

Who’re the Most at Risk?

Exposure to asbestos occurs when a product containing asbestos is disturbed and asbestos fibres are released into the air. If this is breathed in, it can cause a number of lung-related health issues. As such, the greater the exposure to asbestos the higher chance you have of developing an asbestos-related disease later in life.

Those who previously worked in industries where asbestos was commonly used such as shipbuilding construction and maintenance are identified as the most at risk. Even though asbestos became illegal in 1999, those who work in those industries today are still considered high risk for exposure as the material can still be found in many older buildings.

As well as those that worked or work directly with asbestos, it is possible for people to become unwell through ‘secondary exposure’. This occurs when people inhale fibres from the work clothes of a family member, or inhalation from living near a site where asbestos was regularly used.

 

What Diseases Can Asbestos Exposure Cause?

Most asbestos-related diseases are very slow to develop, and it can take years for symptoms to start showing. There are four main diseases associated with the inhalation of asbestos fibres:

  1. Asbestosis

A long term uncurable condition, caused by prolonged exposure to asbestos which causes scarring of the lungs.

  1. Mesothelioma

A rare and fatal cancer that frequently starts in the lining of the lungs. Most cases aren’t diagnosed until the cancer is at an advanced stage as symptoms often don’t appear until later in the development of the disease.

  1. Asbestos-related lung cancer

A form of cancer that originates in the lung tissue. It can be difficult to tell the origin of lung cancer, whether it was caused by asbestos or by other factors such as smoking but it is estimated to have a higher survival rate than mesothelioma.

  1. Non-malignant pleural disease

Diffuse pleural thickening is a non-cancerous lung disease that affects the outer lining of the lung. It causes extensive scarring and thickens the lining of the lungs, reducing lung capacity in the process. Pleural plaques on the other hand are smaller areas of thickened lung tissue, which are commonly benign and don’t cause any symptoms but are still evidence of exposure to asbestos.

 

How to Claim

Compensation for exposure to asbestos is only available to those who have gone on to develop and be formally diagnosed with one of the 4 asbestos-related diseases listed above.

Often people will contact us after finding out that they may have been exposed to asbestos in a previous job, or if their doctor has identified ‘traces of asbestos’ on their lungs. Unfortunately, without a firm diagnosis of an asbestos-related disease, you are unable to make a claim.

If you have been told that you may have an asbestos-related condition or if you are unsure of your diagnosis, get in touch with our of our No Win No Fee solicitors today. If you’ve made a claim previously that was unsuccessful, but your condition has since worsened, we may also be able to help

In Scotland, you have three years to file for compensation for asbestos-related diseases. This three-year period can start either from the date of your medical diagnosis, or from when you were made aware, or should have been made aware, that your asbestos disease-related symptoms were related to previous employment. As such, if you are diagnosed with an asbestos-related disease, it’s important that you seek advice as soon as possible.

If you’re claiming on behalf of a deceased family member, the claim must also be filed within three years of the date of death, or the date of diagnosis if this was discovered sooner.

 

How We Can Help

We understand that making a compensation claim for an asbestos-related disease can be a distressing process, given the serious implications of the medical diagnosis which forms the basis of the claim. We will investigate your claim on a No Win No Fee basis and will ensure that your case is dealt with promptly and sympathetically.

Once you have provided proof of your diagnosed asbestos-related disease, any information you have that could help us link your asbestos exposure to a specific workplace as well as any evidence you may have that proves your employer was aware of the risks and failed to take reasonable steps to protect the workforce from exposure can help your claim tremendously.

However, we understand that asbestos-related diseases can take decades to develop and it’s very common in these situations that your former employer may have ceased trading, or that you can’t quite remember when you were exposed. Not to worry, we can still help. We have extensive experience investigating these types of claims and will work tirelessly to ensure you receive the best financial settlement possible.

If you or a loved one need advice on filing a compensation claim for an industrial disease caused by exposure to asbestos, please get in touch with one of our No Win No Fee solicitors today.

Marks & Spencer fined £1 million over asbestos risk

High Street giants Marks & Spencer suffered a spectacular fall from grace on Tuesday when the company was fined £1 million for putting customers and staff at risk of exposure to asbestos in its Reading store.

The company was also ordered to pay costs of £600,000 at the sentencing hearing at Bournemouth Crown Court. Contractors working on the refurbishment of the Broad Street store were also handed fines of £100,000 and £50,000 for breaches of Health & Safety Regulations.  

Despite government pronouncements that retail environments are inherently safe and that industry needs only a ‘light touch’ approach when assessing risks to health and safety, these serious shortcomings on the part of a highly respected UK business suggest that the opposite is true.

If a household name like Marks & Spencer can fall foul of health & safety legislation we should be very concerned about lapses in standards across the country, especially in the current economic climate when the temptation exists to save money by cutting corners on worker and public safety.

Construction workers continue to be at high risk of serious injury or death and we echo the comments made by Richard Boland, the Health & Safety Executive’s (HSE) Southern head of operations for construction who said:

“This outcome should act as a wake up call that any refurbishment programmes involving asbestos-containing materials must be properly resourced, both in terms of time and money – no matter what.”

Bonnar & Company Solicitors specialises in accident and work and industrial disease compensation claims. Call us free on 0800 163 978 for impartial expert legal advice.  

UK asbestos law not up to Euro standard

The UK version of a European Union-wide law on asbestos safety is illegally lax and must be amended, the government has been told last week.

The TUC, which had warned against the dilution of essential safety measures, said the European Commission (EC) ruling nails the myth the UK ‘gold-plates’ Euro laws.

Last week’s ‘reasoned opinion’ from the EC, in response to a complaint about inadequacies in the UK law, gives the government two months to amend the law or face possible action at the EU’s Court of Justice. It says the UK misinterpreted requirements on ‘sporadic and low intensity exposure to asbestos’ to justify the exclusion of considerable amounts of asbestos work from asbestos licensing, health assessments and exposure recording requirements.

The EC announcement, warning of court action if the government fails to act, notes: ‘The UK legislation currently focuses on the measurement of exposure to asbestos and not enough on the how the material will be affected by the work itself, while the directive deals with both exposure and the material.’ 

The problem of UK workers’ exposure to asbestos will be with us for a very long time and we are heartened to note that the EC has expressed its dissatisfaction with the UK’s recent interpretation of the regulations. It is a sorry state of affairs indeed when workers in this country have to rely on external interventions to secure adequate occupational health safety standards.

Bonnar & Company specialises in workplace accidents and illnesses and we would be happy to discuss the circumstances of your claim free of charge and without obligation.

You can contact us on freephone: 0800 163 978  

£20,000 asbestos fine imposed on John Lewis ‘low hazard’ workplace

High street retailer John Lewis PLC was yesterday handed a fine of £20,000 for failing to do proper checks for deadly asbestos while carrying out refurbishment work at a city department store.

In a case which gives the lie to Lord Young’s recent assertion that offices present a low hazard risk to health and safety, Edinburgh Sheriff Court heard renovation work was being carried out over four days at the management suite of the retailer’s store at the city’s St James Centre in July 2008 when asbestos was discovered at a board between two radiators.

Workers covered it in a bag and reported it to management before a check was carried out. The board was sent for analysis but work was allowed to continue when the site should have been shut down. It was only when the results came back positive that the project was halted. The court heard around 15 workers could potentially have been exposed to the harmful substance.

Sheriff Elizabeth Jarvie QC today also fined contractors Morris and Spottiswood Ltd £20,000 and added that she had reduced both fines from £30,000 to reflect the guilty pleas. However, she went on to say: “This was a serious and disturbing case but in any event no-one sustained any harm. As soon as discovery was made effective and immediate action was taken by the companies.”

Fair enough?

Well sorry no, not really and here’s why. Far from ‘no-one sustaining any harm’, the reality is that asbestos is an invidious, invasive and life-threatening substance which, if even a single fibre is inhaled, can cause cancer in the victim, a fact borne out by the 4,000 plus deaths from asbestos-related cancer each year in the UK.

Are we missing the point here? Lord Young has chosen to completely ignore the fact that ANY WORKPLACE HAS THE POTENTIALTO BE HAZARDOUS OR INJURIOUS TO HEALTH.

It is quite astonishing that a government funded report can blandly state that: ‘low hazard workplaces are those where the risk of injury or death is minimal. These include shops, offices and classrooms…’

Perhaps the HSE should have made Lord Young aware of its own research on asbestos-related deaths before rushing to endorse his various ill-judged pronouncements on the relative dangers of ‘low hazard’ workplaces.

John Lewis PLC and Morris and Spottiswood each admitted three charges under the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2006, Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2007 and Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999.

If you have been exposed to asbestos or any substance injurious to your health and wish to discuss your case, please contact us on FREEPHONE 0800 163 978.