Make an asbestos compensation claim
Cute Injury are on hand to provide you with immediate and effective legal representation if you, or someone you know, has suffered an illness as a direct result to exposure to asbestos in the past.
Asbestos-related diseases such as mesothelioma, asbestosis and pleural thickening can take years and even decades to become apparent following asbestos exposure.
If you or a family member has contracted an asbestos-related disease then get in touch with us now for a free consultation.
How to make an asbestos compensation claim
If you feel that your employer at the time you were exposed to asbestos failed to take reasonable steps to protect you – despite the fact that they should have been expected to foresee the damage that this could do, and that this failure resulted in being exposed to asbestos – then you could be entitled to make a claim for compensation.
Get in touch with Cute Injury now to learn more about how we can help:
Facts about asbestos
Did you know that there are around 4,000 asbestos related deaths in the UK every year, and that deaths are expected to peak in the year 2015? In the EU as a whole, there are 250,000 asbestos-related deaths each year.
We’ve put together this useful infographic to help you better understand the scale of asbestos exposure over the past few decades as well as learn more about the different types of asbestos and the effects it can have on the lungs – causing illnesses like mesothelioma and asbestosis.
Asbestos at work regulations guide
The latest guidelines for the control of asbestos was released on 6 April 2012, which has replaced all previous asbestos regulations. The Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012 was created as a result of the European Commission’s belief that the UK had not sufficiently fulfilled the EU Directive on Exposure to Asbestos (2009).
Most aspects of the regulations have not changed. Things that have changed are mainly relating to certain types of non-licensed work with asbestos which include the need for keeping accurate records of the work carried out and medical surveillance.
Additions to the asbestos at work regulations
- Before carrying out any non-licensed work, you now need to notify the relevant enforcing authority.
- Written records must now be kept of all non-licensed work which has had to be notified. This means a copy of the notification that was sent to the enforcing authority which will have included a list of the staff who will be working on the job, as well as a risk assessment taking into account the amount of exposure that is expected. Air monitoring isn’t necessary provided you’re able to make a reasonably accurate estimate of the degree of exposure based on previous work you’ve carried out or on official guidelines.
- All workers doing notifiable non-licensed work with asbestos must be working under the guidance of a doctor or physician. If your workers are already under health surveillance by another doctor for licensed work, it’s not necessary that they be seen by another doctor for non-licensed work. However, this doesn’t apply the other way around: the medicals you obtained for your workers for non-licensed work will not suffice if they undertake licensed work.
- Some of the language has been changed and some sections have been moved around. For example, the prohibition section has been taken out and the content is now covered by the Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals Regulations 2006.
Asbestos regulations remain the same
- It’s acceptable to leave asbestos materials in place in a building provided that they are not damaged or likely to sustain damage. However, they must be monitored to make certain they remain in good condition and don’t pose a health risk.
- Individuals and companies responsible for the maintenance of work premises are responsible for the condition of any asbestos materials within those buildings. They must monitor their condition and ensure there is no health risk posed to their staff or any members of the public who might be in the area.
- Before undertaking any building or maintenance work in areas where asbestos is present, a full risk assessment must be completed and steps taken to adequately manage the risks.
- For the most part, requirements for licensed work is the same. Asbestos work must be carried out by a licensed contractor. This would normally include asbestos removal and everything involving sprayed asbestos coating, lagging, insulation and asbestos insulating board (AIB).
- The maximum of level of asbestos is 0.1 asbestos fibres per cubic centimetre of air. This isn’t a ‘safe’ level, so the level must be reduced even below this if possible.
- Anyone working with asbestos fibres must be given full training and issued with Personal Protective Equipment.
Make an asbestos compensation claim
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Asbestos exposure at work and how to claim
Were you aware that asbestos is as deadly as fire? Today this hazardous material can be found in hospitals, factories, offices and even schools.
Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral that does not burn and was previously used in many types of construction materials, such as fireproofing in textured plaster, pipe lagging, garage roof tiles and ceiling cavity.
However, it was discovered that asbestos is every bit as deadly as fire once the fibres become disturbed.
In 2011 the Health & Safety Executive claimed that exposure to asbestos resulted in over 4,500 deaths and on average it kills 5,000 people each year.
The single biggest work-related cause of death in the UK
If asbestos fibres are disturbed and breathed in the dust can scar the lungs. This scarring is called asbestosis and the symptoms of this disease include coughing and shortness of breath.
The NHS has warned sufferers are at greater risk from other awful diseases, too, including:
- Cancer of the membrane that covers the lungs, heart and gut
- Pleural disease. Thickening of the membrane over the lungs, resulting in chest pain and breathlessness.
- Lung cancer. One of the most widespread and serious forms of cancer.
Throughout 2011, 2,291 people died from mesothelioma, whilst a further 491 people died due to asbestosis itself. The government body further estimates that 2000 people have died as a result of asbestos-related lung cancer.
The reason for the estimation in deaths is due to the fact that symptoms of an asbestos related disease do not tend to show until 15-30 years after exposure to the fibre.
If you are worried that you have been exposed in the past to asbestos the NHS recommends that you are mindful of any health changes and to visit your GP.
In 2012 the Control of Asbestos Regulations were updated because the EU decided that not enough was being done in the UK. However, the final kind of material, crysotile, or more widely known as white asbestos, was banned in 1999.
Blue (crocidolite) and brown (amosite) asbestos are also too common in our buildings, and these are the most deadly types.
Both these forms of asbestos were banned in the 1985, and voluntary industrial bans were already being observed by many prior to that date. No crocidolite was imported into the UK following 1970.
That still leaves a vast amount of the material in UK premises, and Mesothelioma UK identifies some of the most at-risk trades as:
- Electricians, plumbers and gasfitters
- Laggers and sprayers
- Shipbuilders, dock workers and seamen
- Builders and demolition workers
- Carpenters and roofers
The Control of Asbestos Regulations states that those responsible for the maintenance of buildings works are under a ‘duty to manage’ any asbestos in them.
Make an industrial disease claim
If you are suffering as a result of exposure to asbestos at work, you should consult an industrial disease lawyer immediately as you may entitled to compensation.
To find out more get in touch with Cute Injury today:
The different types of asbestos
Not so long ago there was rarely a building constructed without the use of asbestos. This so called super product dealt effectively with both heat and noise insulation as well as being inert, odourless, insoluble and fire resistant. Asbestos was used in walls, boiler insulation, ceiling tiles and many more. The workers using it had no idea of the effects it would have on their future health and as health and safety regulations can be described as lax at best in the middle of the 20th century, it is unlikely they would have done things much differently.
As we now know, inhalation of the fibres that make up asbestos causes lung cancer, asbestosis and malignant mesothelioma. Thousands have lost their lives due to dealing with asbestos in the past and the number is still rising. Those who were exposed to asbestos during their ordinary working day are entitled to monetary compensation and the claims now have reached millions of pounds. Here is a brief overview of the different types of asbestos which have blighted the health of a generation.
Chrysotile, commonly known as white asbestos, was the most commonly used type of asbestos and the one you will be most likely to find lurking when renovating old properties. Chrysotile is the only asbestos belonging to the serpentine group, which means its fibres are curly rather than straight. This makes it much more flexible than the other types of asbestos making it easy to mould for such uses a corrugated roof tiles on garages and outhouses to insulated pipes. Widely used for decades in the UK and the US, it is also considered to be the most deadly due to the deaths arising from its use, but research has actually said this is due to the fact it was more widely used.
One of the asbestos types mainly found in Australia, South Africa and Bolivia, the fibres of Crocidolite have a bluish hue when viewed under a microscope; this is better known as blue asbestos. As well as the mentioned usages, Crocidolite was also used to make cement due to its fibres and it is estimated that 20% of those who mined Crocidolite have lost their lives due to inhaling its fibres. Blue asbestos is also widely regarded as having the best heat resistance of all asbestos types, thus making it ideal for construction work in countries with extreme temperatures and the risk of wild fires.
Amosite, or brown asbestos, originated in Africa and was widely used in the pipe insulation and the construction of cement sheets. The name Amosite is partly an acronym of “Asbestos Mines of Southern Africa” and consists of white/grey vitreous fibres. It was most widely used in insulation boards, ceiling tiles and thermal insulation due to its flame retardant properties. Amosite asbestos, along with Crodidolite, was at the peak of its popularity in the 1980’s, and these two have been proven to be the most hazardous types of asbestos.
Now you can see how widely used asbestos was it is little wonder how many have fallen victim to the horrendous side effects years later. The worst thing about this is that the first documented death related to asbestos was recorded way back in 1906 and in the UK in 1924. The fact it was such a cheap material seems to have led the health impact be overlooked. Hundreds of thousands have lost their lives because they worked with asbestos in the past and no doubt that figure will continue to rise….
What is Asbestosis?
Asbestosis is a chronic lung disease that is caused from the lung tissue being scarred by exposure to asbestos.
Asbestos is a general term that refers to a group of minerals which are made up of long fibres. The three most common types are Chrysolite (white asbestos), Amosite (brown asbestos) and Crocidolite (blue asbestos).
Asbestos is extremely strong and is resistant to heat and chemicals, which is why it was a common material used in the 1950’s up until the 1980’s.
It was used in industries such as:
– Ship building
– Electricity generation
– Building and construction
Causes of Asbestosis
If asbestos is disturbed, by drilling, chipping or breaking the surface, it can be very dangerous. This is because disturbed asbestos releases a fine dust that contains the asbestos fibres. When these fibres are breathed in, they enter the lungs and can cause disease.
An individual must be exposed to asbestos fibres over a long period of time for asbestosis to develop. There are also other factors which can contribute to the affect that asbestos exposure has on somebody, such as:
– The type of fibre inhaled (white asbestos is the least harmful, brown is the next, and blue is the most harmful)
– How much of the fibres have been inhaled
– Whether the person is a smoker or not and whether the person has previous lung conditions
Symptoms of Asbestosis
Symptoms of asbestosis usually develop many years after an individual has been exposed to the asbestos. It can sometimes be as little as seven years, but can often be much longer (20-30 years).
The general symptoms one would develop are:
– Shortness of breath
And in more advanced cases:
– Swollen fingers (known as finger clubbing)
Diagnosis and treatment of Asbestosis
If your GP suspects that you have asbestosis, you will be referred to a specialist in lung disease. You will then undergo tests such as chest x-rays, CT scans and lung function tests, which will assist a specialist in his/her diagnosis.
There is currently no treatment available to cure asbestosis, but there are steps which can be taken to ease symptoms.
– Stopping smoking
– Oxygen therapy
The prognosis of asbestosis is that people can live for many years. However because the condition gets worse over time, people will need an increased amount of treatment as they age, in order for them to live as comfortable as possible.
Asbestos related diseases
People who have asbestosis have a higher risk of developing other serious conditions and diseases, such as:
- Lung cancer
- Pleural disease – where the membrane that covers the lungs becomes thicker, resulting in breathlessness and chest pain
- Mesothelioma – Also known as ‘asbestos cancer’, which is a type of cancer that affects the membrane that covers the heart, lungs and gut
What is mesothelioma?
Mesothelioma is a form of cancer that usually starts in the lungs but can also start in the abdomen.
It is most commonly associated with exposure to asbestos as most people who suffer from the disease will have been exposed to the substance at some time in their life.
Forms of Mesothelioma
Below are the three main forms of mesothelioma:
- Pleural mesothelioma – This is the most common form of mesothelioma and affects the pleura, which is the lining around the lungs. As with other types of mesothelioma, the most common cause of the disease is exposure to asbestos.
- Peritoneal mesothelioma – This is the second most common form of mesothelioma and affects the lining of the abdomen.
- Epithelioid mesothelioma – This is the most common cell type and occurs in 70% of all diagnoses.
One of the best ways to spot mesothelioma is to know what symptoms are associated with the disease.
Common mesothelioma symptoms include:
- Breathing difficulties
- Painful coughing fits
- Inexplicable weight loss
- Pain around the rib cage
- Lumps around the chest
- Pain in the lower regions of the back
- Sweating and fever
Of course the symptoms of mesothelioma and their severity will vary from person to person although most people will display at least some of the symptoms mentioned above.
Mesothelioma Life Expectancy
As with any form of cancer, the mesothelioma prognosis will depend on how much it has spread and how severely the patient is affected. Unfortunately, mesothelioma is a very aggressive form of cancer and is often only detected once it is in advanced stages.
The typical life expectancy after diagnosis is 1-2 years. It is worth pointing out however, that new treatments are being researched all the time and there are of course exceptions where patients are able to live much longer than this.
There are several options available for treating mesothelioma. These include:
- Surgery – Surgery is generally only an option during the early stages of mesothelioma. It is used to remove the tumours that grow as a result of the disease. It can be very effective form of treatment and sometimes it is possible to remove the entire cancer or at least slow down its progression. Surgery isn’t just used to remove tumours however. It is also used to remove a lung in cases of more advanced mesothelioma, as this can help to alleviate symptoms quite significantly.
- Chemotherapy – Where surgery isn’t possible, chemotherapy can be used to shrink the tumours. It will also help to slow down their progress. Chemotherapy is often used in conjunction with surgery, to make the tumours easier to remove by shrinking them beforehand.
- Radiotherapy – Radiotherapy is most useful for those with pleural mesothelioma and can help to alleviate symptoms. Radiotherapy is also used to prevent metastasis after surgery.
What is Pleural Thickening?
The “pleura” is the fine membrane which lines the lungs.
Pleural plaque is the term for small areas of scar tissue which form on the pleura (often after exposure to asbestos) which aren’t usually serious, but which can act as a precursor to pleural thickening.
Damage to the pleura can cause scar tissue to form which can harden and reduce the space between the lung and the pleura – this is called pleural thickening. This results in breathing difficulties and chest pain and is a common symptom of asbestos exposure.
What is Asbestos and why is it harmful?
Asbestos was widely used throughout the twentieth century as an industrial insulation material. It’s versatile, fire retardant and almost impossible to damage or destroy. It was frequently used in construction and as insulation in many buildings. However, it is also known to cause lung disease and other respiratory problems and was banned in 1999.
Asbestos is a mineral comprised of tiny needle shaped fibres which can become embedded in the lungs when inhaled. In the short term, this leads to the formation of pleural plaques and scarring of the lungs. In the longer term, more serious asbestos related illnesses can develop including pleural thickening, mesothelioma, asbestosis and lung cancer.
If you have developed any of these illnesses after being exposed to asbestos at work you may be able to claim compensation.
What should I do?
Most people who have been exposed to asbestos were exposed at work. It may be that your employer didn’t take the necessary safety precautions to protect their staff.
If you believe you may have been exposed to asbestos in the past and you experience chest pain or tightness, you should see your GP immediately and be sure to mention any past exposure to asbestos. An X-ray or scan will reveal the presence of asbestos related diseases such as pleural thickening.
Pleural plaques themselves are not considered to be a serious condition. Although they often form after asbestos exposure and may be a precursor to asbestos related diseases, pleural plaques alone are not a basis for making a claim.
Symptoms of pleural thickening include:
- Chest pain (more obvious after physical exertion)
- Chest tightness
- Reduced lung capacity
Unfortunately the damage is irreversible, so your doctor will aim to manage the symptoms. It’s common to prescribe painkillers, bronchodilators, steroids and antibiotics. In cases where there is fluid build-up on the lungs, doctors may peform a “thoracentosis” to drain the fluid and relieve pressure in the lungs. In the most extreme cases, surgery to remove parts of the pleura may be recommended. This is rare and is only considered an option in the severest cases.
Pleural thickening can be benign or malignant. The malignant form is known as mesothelioma.
How to make a claim
If you believe you may have been exposed to asbestos at work and you are experiencing health problems such as pleural thickening, you may be entitled to make a claim. You should speak to a solicitor as soon as possible as there are strict time limits imposed on submitting your claim. If it can be proven that you were exposed to asbestos due to the negligence of your employer, then you have a good case for making a claim.
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How to Make an Asbestos Claim on Behalf of a Deceased Relative
Asbestos is a mineral that was used widely in the last century as insulation.
Asbestos is made up of tiny needle-shaped fibres. These fibres are easily breathed in, and if they become lodged in the lungs, they can cause a number of respiratory conditions each varying in severity.
Asbestos was banned in 1991, but for those who were exposed the symptoms may not develop for up to fifty years.
Pleural plaques are areas of scar tissue that develop on the lungs. They are the least severe asbestos-related condition and it’s not possible to make a claim on the basis of pleural plaques alone, but they can form the precursor to more serious conditions:
The pleura is a fine membrane that surrounds the lungs. Exposure to asbestos can damage the pleura and cause scar tissue to form resulting in breathing difficulties and chest pain.
This is a cancer that often begins in the pleura and is a common side effect of asbestos exposure.
Lung damage from asbestos exposure can cause various kinds of lung cancer.
Asbestosis is a chronic inflammatory lung condition which develops after asbestos fibres are inhaled and become lodged in the lungs.
Symptoms usually begin with breathing difficulties, chest pain and a persistent cough. In many cases, people with asbestos-related conditions were exposed to asbestos whilst at work. If that exposure was somebody else’s fault or due to negligence on the part of the employer, you may be entitled to make a claim.
How Can I Claim for a Deceased Person?
Some of the above mentioned conditions can prove fatal, which can mean that the person affected doesn’t have the chance to see a compensation claim through to completion. In some cases, diseases arising from asbestos exposure may not be established as the cause of death until the post-mortem.
In cases where the person managed to initiate a personal injury compensation claim before death, but succumbed to their illness before it could be settled, it is possible for the family or a relative to take over and pursue the claim on their behalf.
If the person dies before initiating a claim, or if the asbestos-related illness was not discovered as the cause of death until the post-mortem, it may still be possible for the family to submit a claim for compensation.
If you or a relative has been diagnosed with an asbestos-related disease and you wish to make a claim, it’s important to seek legal advice straight away.
If the exposure was due to negligence on the part of the employer, then you have a good basis for a claim. However, there are strict time limits called Statutes of Limitations within which you must submit your claim in order for it to be accepted.
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Making an Asbestos Claim against the Ministry of Defence
Asbestos is a natural mineral comprised of millions of microscopic needle-shaped fibres. It was used widely during the 1950s, 60s and 70s in construction, manufacture, and shipbuilding.
Because asbestos is versatile, low-heat conducting and almost impossible to destroy, it was favoured by the Ministry of Defence for uses such as fireproofing ships.
This means that many military personnel, employees or contractors working for the Ministry of Defence were exposed to asbestos before it was banned in 1991.
Exposure to Asbestos
Most people who were exposed to asbestos whilst working for the military will be aware by now. In some cases, symptoms can take up to fifty years to develop, but in the majority of cases, the effects of asbestos exposure become evident between fifteen and thirty years after exposure.
If it can be proven that your exposure to asbestos was due to negligence on the part of the Ministry of Defence that you should have a good basis for a personal injury claim.
Unfortunately, service men and women who were exposed to asbestos by the Ministry of Defence before 1987 are not entitled to make a claim. Before 1987, the Crown Proceedings Act gave the Ministry of Defence immunity from personal injury claims made by its personnel.
However, if you are a serving member of the armed forces and your exposure occurred after 1987, you should still be able to claim.
What Diseases Does Exposure to Asbestos Cause?
When inhaled, the tiny, sharp asbestos fibres become lodged in the lungs. After mild or infrequent exposure, this may only cause “pleural plaques” which are patches of lung damage. However, over time, after repeated exposure to asbestos dust or fibres, more serious and sometimes life threatening conditions can develop.
Pleural thickening from asbestos exposure occurs when the fine membrane covering the lungs is damaged and hardened causing chest pain, breathing difficulties and sometimes fluid on the lungs.
Asbestosis is a lung disease contracted by breathing in asbestos particles, resulting in fibrosis (or hardening) of the lung tissue. Asbestosis can form a precursor to mesothelioma and other types of lung cancer.
Mesothelioma is a form of lung cancer affecting the mesothelial tissue, or membranes of the lungs.
Some of these diseases can be debilitating and painful. Asbestosis, mesothelioma and lung cancer can all result in death.
How to Make a Claim
If you were exposed to asbestos due to the negligence whilst working for the Ministry of Defence, and you have developed an asbestos related disease as a result, you may be able to claim compensation.
It’s important to speak to a solicitor immediately as there are strict time limits imposed on making a claim.
If you are serving in the military before 1987 and were exposed to asbestos, you may be able to make a claim under the Armed Forces Compensation Scheme.
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