Asbestos Related Disease Claims

Getting rid of asbestos isn’t as easy as ABC

Asbestos related diseases are still the UK’s biggest workplace killers. Cases of mesothelioma (a virulent form of lung cancer that can lay dormant for up to 40 years after exposure), asbestosis and other asbestos-related illnesses kills hundreds of workers every year. The use of asbestos as a building material has been banned since the 1970s, but now a new problem is arising – getting rid of the mineral safely.

Safe Until The Surface Is Broken

Asbestos was used extensively in public buildings right up until the 1970s because it was cheap, fire resistant and versatile. Although the dangers of the mineral had been known of for many years before, it was still considered to be safe as long as the lethal dust was not allowed to escape into the atmosphere. However, the membrane covering asbestos can easily be ruptured, and even a tiny amount of dust getting into the lungs can store up long term problems for anyone exposed to it.

This is why such stringent regulations exist concerning the removal of asbestos from buildings, with the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) enforcing the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2006 to the letter. Specialist companies are employed to remove asbestos from buildings – it is not a job for the untrained.

But time and again, the HSE reports cases of firms removing asbestos without taking the required precautions or even being licensed to do so. This puts workers at extreme risk of inhaling a lung full of the dangerous dust and, consequently, exposing them to the possibility of developing life-threatening illness later in life. It can also expose those who are not involved in the removal of the asbestos directly but who are forced to continue working in an environment where the dust presents a hazard. So in a situation like this, who can be held accountable if a claim is later brought; the company involved in the removal or the owner of the property?

Where Does The Blame Lie?

In a case like this, the blame lies squarely on the shoulders of two parties – the contractor hired to remove the mineral and the company who have hired them. In times of economic hardship, the temptation to save money is a great incentive for many small businesses. Asbestos removal isn’t cheap, and the discovery of asbestos that needs to be removed in a project can add thousands of pounds to the final bill of the contract. Companies are required by law to notify the HSE of any asbestos removal work carried out, and failure to do so carries with it a hefty fine and a criminal conviction.

But companies desperate to stay on schedule and on budget may be tempted to ‘cut corners’ by bringing in a non-certified asbestos removal company to do the job ‘on the cheap’. Not only is this a breach of the law, but it can lay the foundations for a crippling compensation claim later on if an employee is affected in later life as a result of asbestos exposure.

Rather than looking at the short-term issues involved in the safe removal and disposal of asbestos, business owners need to also consider the long-term consequences. If a case of mesothelioma can be directly linked to the removal of asbestos by a company not authorised to do so, the potential for a much higher compensation claim can be greatly increased simply because of an employer’s flagrant disregard for the law. It amounts to criminal negligence, and any employer who flouts the law like this can and will be held responsible.

Asbestos may have been the ‘wonder-material’ of yesteryear, but we are now learning to our cost its inherent dangers even 50 years after exposure. Endangering the lives of employees by wilfully exposing them to the lethal aftermath of its removal by those not qualified to do so could be tantamount to industrial manslaughter and a wilful neglect of an employer’s responsibility to their workers. It is not something that should even be considered – the consequences are too horrific to contemplate.

The Work Accident Solicitors – asbestos related disease compensation claims experts

An asbestos related disease can have a massive effect on your life and if you contracted such a disease through no fault of your own, it is only right that you are compensated.

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