Friday 7th July 2017 was Action Mesothelioma Day, a day that aims to raise awareness of, and pay tribute to, all the people suffering from the asbestos-related cancer.
According to asbestos charity Mesothelioma UK, the UK has the world’s highest incidence of the deadly disease, with more than 2,500 people diagnosed with mesothelioma each year – a number that sadly appears to be still rising.
Mesothelioma is a form of cancer that takes many years to develop following the inhalation of asbestos fibres, but is usually rapidly fatal following disease onset. It mainly affects the pleura (the external lining of the lung) and the peritoneum (the lining of the lower digestive tract). It is strongly associated with exposure to asbestos, and current evidence suggests that around 85% of all male mesotheliomas are attributable to asbestos exposures that occurred at work.
Figures from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) show there has been a sharp rise in the number of annual deaths over the last 50 years, mainly as a result of occupational asbestos exposures that occurred because of the widespread industrial use of asbestos between 1950-1980.
According to the most recently available statistics from the HSE there were 2,515 mesothelioma deaths in Great Britain in 2014, a similar number to the 2,556 deaths in 2013, and 2,549 deaths in 2012.
Workers Continue to be Put at Risk
Sadly, workers are still put at risk of contracting mesothelioma and other asbestos related diseases because their employers fail to follow the rules and regulations in place to ensure a safe work environment and system of work.
Earlier this year a construction company appeared in court on health and safety charges after workers were exposed to asbestos during a refurbishment project.
The company was converting a former nine story office building into flats. The building was known to contain asbestos, but although a refurbishment and demolition survey had been carried out the company had failed to act upon it, and as a result up to 40 workers were put at risk during the demolition stage of the project.
The company’s dangerous practices continued later on in the project, despite engaging a licensed asbestos contractor to remove the remaining asbestos materials. In addition, the company was unable to provide documentation to show that asbestos materials identified in the survey had been correctly removed. Around 160 people were working inside the building during this stage of the project.
HSE investigations found that these incidents could have been prevented if the company had ensured it had effective management controls in place to avoid the risk of exposure to asbestos.
The company pleaded guilty to two offences of breaching Regulation 22 (1) (a) of the Construction Design and Management Regulations 2007 and was fined £750,000 and ordered to pay costs of £14,874.
“The company’s failings in this case have put many workers at risk to the exposure of asbestos,” explained HSE inspector Melvyn Stancliffe.
“It was clear there was an endemic failure to effectively manage the construction work on the site in a way which ensured that asbestos materials were not disturbed until removed under appropriate conditions,” he added. “Failing to prevent the breathing in of asbestos fibres on the site is reckless.”
Our personal injury lawyers have many years of experience helping people deal with the challenges that can result from contracting a work-related disease. We offer a free consultation to let you know about all of the options for getting compensation, care and rehabilitation as soon as possible. To arrange a free consultation, or to find out more about our no win no fee service, call us on 01412496903 or contact us online.
Contains public sector information licensed under the Open Government Licence v3.0.