Worthingtons Solicitors

A dangerous legacy

Even though the use of asbestos was banned in 2000, its use in the construction industry in the preceding decades has left a dangerous legacy. Throughout the UK there are many buildings in all sectors which contain dangerous asbestos-based products throughout.  How to deal with the risk posed by these products is a question that has yet to be answered.  An interesting article currently available in the online magazine Inside Housing, provides a rather stark analysis of the task at hand, if only in terms of the sheer numbers involved.        

The article, using data provided by the National Organisation of Asbestos Consultants, should serve as a warning. Over 6 months an ambitious examination of 128,761 buildings revealed 78% contained asbestos in its various forms. Alarmingly a finding that should concern policy makers at all levels and the public generally, of the buildings that contained asbestos, 71% contained damaged or disturbed asbestos.  This release and subsequent inhalation of asbestos fibres from damaged asbestos products is one of the main transmission mechanisms.  Assuming this data is reliable, this suggests large numbers of people are likely to have come into contact with asbestos, often without even realising.

Whether this study and others will result in meaningful policy debate remains to be seen. It does however raise the spectre of another generation of potential victims of asbestos exposure unless substantial steps, including massive expenditure, are taken to minimise the risk posed by the legacy of asbestos use.    Although heavy industry workers, who often worked directly with asbestos in what might be termed a ‘classic’ fashion (for example, pipe laggers and in the construction of new buildings in the 1950s and 1960s), is declining rapidly, there is another generation exposed in a different, but no less dangerous, manner. 

Anecdotally, I have unfortunately seen several cases involving workers exposed to asbestos in the 1970s, 1980s and even 1990s, where their main exposure to asbestos was removing, by hand, old and damaged asbestos-based products from commercial and residential buildings.   Ironically, after doing so, they used modern, safer equivalents as a replacement.        

If you feel you have been exposed to asbestos directly or indirectly and would like to discuss the possibility of a personal injury claim, please do not hesitate to contact Jonathan Duncan on 028 9181 1538 or [email protected].

For expert legal advice

Call 028 9043 4015 or Contact us