Lawford Kidd's Blog

Lawford Kidd's injury solicitors' blog designed to cover all areas of the law relating to accident compensation claims, injury claims and no win no fee in Scotland.

Asbestos Related Deaths on the Rise in England

The rate of deaths from asbestos-related cancer mesothelioma in England is climbing, according to the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers (APIL).

APIL has based its claim on Office for National Statistics figures, which show that the average rate of deaths from mesothelioma in England is 4.5 deaths per 100,000 people. This is a significant increase over the rate in the period 2008-2012, which was 2.6.

APIL has also compiled the ten areas with the highest mortality rates for mesothelioma in England. Barrow-in-Furness tops the list with a mortality rate three times the average for England. The three areas with the highest mortality rates for mesothelioma are:

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Freeing Europe Safely from Asbestos

The European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) and the Committee of the Regions have held a joint conference to discuss the continuing widespread risk of asbestos exposure to Europe's citizens and the steps that need to be taken to reduce it over the coming years.

Despite a Europe-wide ban on asbestos since 2005, the World Health Organisation reports that between 20,000 and 30,000 cases of asbestos-related diseases are recorded every year in the EU alone, and more than 300,000 citizens are expected to die from mesothelioma by 2030 in the EU. This places asbestos related deaths at a comparable level to those expected to result from road accidents during the same period.

Asbestos is still found in many places, such as ships, trains, machinery, tunnels and in pipes in public and private water distribution networks. Asbestos was used extensively in buildings erected between 1961 and 1990, with millions of tonnes still present in buildings, not only putting building and maintenance workers at risk but potentially anybody present or occupying the property.

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Scottish Asbestos Claims – Find Out Why When You Were Exposed Matters

Claimants making asbestos claims may have no legal right to compensation where at the time of exposure levels of protection offered by employers would have been considered adequate, albeit considered negligent by today's standards. In McGregor v Genco, the Court highlighted this point, underlining the importance that all claims must be looked at individually, on a case-by-case basis, and with regard to the overwhelming body of case law in the area.

The Court could not '..accept that during 1976…the defendant should have appreciated that the claimant was at risk of an asbestos related injury and that their failure to appreciate and take what would now be regarded as appropriate precautions or to make enquiries about the nature of the dust was negligent'.

This could be a particularly important point for defendants in legacy claims, especially in Scotland where fatal claims are more expensive than they are in England.  It means that, even where a Claimant’s mesothelioma or asbestosis was indeed caused by exposure to asbestos while in employment with a Defendant - which would satisfy the causation test - the Defendant cannot be held to have acted negligently, where they acted in accordance with the standards at the time.  

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Supreme Court rules in mesothelioma liability case

The Supreme Court has given its decision in the appeal by insurance companies over their obligations under various contracts of employers’ liability (“EL”) insurance. In particular, the appeals concern the scope of the insurers’ obligations to indemnify employers against their liabilities towards employees who have contracted mesothelioma following exposure to asbestos.

Mesothelioma has an unusually long gestation period, which can be in excess of 40 years between exposure to asbestos and manifestation of the disease. The insurers maintain that the EL policies only cover mesothelioma which manifested as a disease at some point during the relevant policy period. In contrast, the employers submit that the insurance policies respond to mesothelioma caused by exposure to asbestos during the relevant policy period but which develops and manifests itself sometime later.

The court at first instance held that the policies should all be interpreted as having a “causation wording,” and therefore the liability “trigger” under the EL policy was when the employee inhaled the asbestos and not the date when the malignant lesion developed.

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Demolition firm sentenced over asbestos danger

A demolition firm has been sentenced after knocking down a building in the Lake District containing hundreds of asbestos ceiling tiles, putting the lives of workers and local residents at risk.

IBT Contracting Ltd was prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) after carrying out the work at a former photography factory, despite not having a licence to remove asbestos.

Kendal Magistrates' Court heard IBT had been given a survey by the owners of the site ahead of the work taking place, which stated that the building contained 166 square metres of asbestos ceiling tiles.

But the company failed to arrange for a licensed contractor to remove the tiles safely, and instead released deadly asbestos fibres into the air during the building's demolition.

IBT Contracting pleaded guilty to three breaches of the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2006, for removing asbestos without a licence, exposing workers to asbestos fibres, and allowing the fibres to spread to neighbouring areas.

The company was fined £10,800 and ordered to pay £3,638.95 in prosecution costs. 

Asbestos was used in ceiling tiles up until the 1980s to help insulate buildings. The tiles only become dangerous if they are broken up and asbestos fibres are released into the air.

Fibres that are breathed in can become lodged in the lungs or digestive tract, and may lead to lung cancer or other diseases if large numbers of fibres are inhaled. However, symptoms may not appear for several decades.

Around 4,000 people die every year as a result of breathing in asbestos fibres, making it the biggest single cause of work-related deaths in the UK.

Find out more about claims for asbestos exposure here.

 

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