Asbestos - the dangers and your rights

According to statistics released by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), exposure to asbestos causes more than 4,000 deaths in Great Britain die each year. The main cause of death is from mesothelioma and lung cancer caused as a direct result of exposure to asbestos. The HSE predicts the number of people dying as a result of asbestos exposure will continue to rise over the next ten years.

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)
  • diffuse pleural thickening (not fatal)

You should be aware that asbestos exposure will rarely affect you immediately. Often symptoms do not present themselves until months, sometimes years later. Therefore it is critical that you act now to protect yourself and your colleagues.

Smokers who are exposed to asbestos fibres are also much more likely to develop lung cancer than non-smokers.

Am I at risk?

While the levels of asbestos in the UK have fallen over recent years, it is important you are aware of when you are at risk. You are mostly at risk when:

  • the building you are working in was built pre-2000
  • Asbestos-containing materials were not identified before the job was started
  • information about Asbestos-containing materials was identified but not communicated effectively to the people doing the work
  • you are unaware of safety procedures regarding working with Asbestos
  • you do not follow safety procedures regarding working with Asbestos

It is important not to worry excessively though. Always remember, as long as the asbestos is not damaged or located somewhere where it can be easily damaged it won't be a risk to you.

Some other important things to remember about Asebestos

  • You can't see or smell asbestos fibres in the air.
  • The effects of asbestos take many years to show up - avoid breathing it in now.
  • Smoking increases the risk many times.
  • Asbestos is only a danger when fibres are made airborne

Which industries are most at risk from Asbestos-related diseases? If you work in any of the following occupations, and are working on a building built or refurbished before 2000, you may come in to contact with asbestos:

  • Heating and ventilation engineers
  • Demolition workers
  • Carpenters and joiners
  • Plumbers
  • Roofing contractors
  • Painters and decorators
  • Plasterers
  • Construction workers
  • Fire and burglar alarm installers
  • Shop fitters
  • Gas fitters
  • Computer installers
  • General maintenance staff eg caretakers
  • Telecommunications engineers
  • Building surveyors
  • Cable layers
  • Electricians

Remember though, these are not the only industries that come into contact with Asbestos and you should always be aware of the dangers and safety procedures whenever you are working in a high-risk environment.

Who Can Make An Asbestos Claim?

If you have ever been exposed to Asbestos and you believe you have developed an illness as a consequence, then please do not hesitate to get in touch.

You don't even have to be sure of where you may have come into contact, our experts may still be able to help.

It is also important to remember that Contracting an asbestos-related illness can also be caused by indirect exposure to asbestos; as a result of contaminated items. Asbestos fibres are carried on clothing and exposure to these clothes puts family members at risk of contracting asbestos-related illnesses.

If you think you may have been affected by Asbestos exposure, however minimal you think it may have been, please contact us and speak to our experts. After all, if you don't ask you'll never know.

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