Asbestos harms and possible claims
Asbestos is the single greatest cause of work-related deaths in the UK. When these fibers are inhaled they can cause serious diseases which are responsible for around 4500 deaths a year. There are four main diseases caused by asbestos: mesothelioma (which is always fatal), lung cancer (almost always fatal), asbestosis (not always fatal, but it can be very debilitating) and diffuse pleural thickening (not fatal).
Asbestos fibers are present in the environment in Great Britain so people are exposed to very low levels of fibers. However, a key factor in the risk of developing an asbestos-related disease is the total number of fibers breathed in. Working on or near damaged asbestos-containing materials or breathing in high levels of asbestos fibers, which may be many hundreds of times that of environmental levels can increase your chances of getting an asbestos-related disease.
The major problem with asbestos is that it does not affect the individual immediately and takes time to develop into one of the diseases listed above. So a person working in an environment or a workplace that deals with asbestos need to know about the harms of this material and what safety precautions and equipment he is entitled to.
In the 2000’s the UK saw an influx of cases and claims related to asbestos exposure and thus this became a very current issue in the legal arena. If you have been exposed to asbestos you need to be aware of the harms and repercussions of working with asbestos.
What the law requires as per asbestos?
The Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012 came into force on 6 April 2012, updating previous asbestos regulations to take account of the European Commission’s view that the UK had not fully implemented the EU Directive on exposure to asbestos.
In practice the changes are fairly limited. They mean that some types of non-licensed work with asbestos now have additional requirements, i.e. notification of work, medical surveillance and record keeping.
Therefore if you are working in an environment (pre 1999 any household or domestic or non domestic building has a high likelihood of containing asbestos) or with an employer that deals in asbestos related work the regulations and safety requirements are mandatory to be followed by that employer which include providing safety materials such as specific overalls and safety masks and training that is mandatory by law now to work in an asbestos workplace. So if your employer is in breach of complying with these regulations you have a solid claim against that employer, whether or not you contract an asbestos related disease.
And if you have contracted an asbestos related disease you can claim for government disability benefits as well.