Asbestos-exposed workers still owed compensation

06 July 2016

The words “Steve McQueen” conjure up images of the glamorous actor at work and play. What is perhaps less well known is that his death at the young age of 50 was as a result of the terminal asbestos related cancer, mesothelioma, a particularly aggressive form of cancer primarily caused by exposure to asbestos fibres. Symptoms usually manifest some 20 – 40 years after the exposure and it is possible that Mr McQueen was exposed to asbestos whilst serving in the US Marines as a young man aboard various military ships where he recalled removing asbestos lagging from pipes.

Asbestos-exposed workers still owed compensation

Action Mesothelioma Day is an annual day dedicated by the British Lung Foundation ( and others to raising funds and awareness of the condition. Throughout the UK, mesothelioma rates remain stubbornly high at in or around 2,500 per annum and, with no sign of any decline on the horizon, the importance of medical research cannot be emphasised enough.

Northern Ireland, with its extensive history of shipbuilding, has not escaped the legacy of industrial asbestos use.  Whilst we live in an age where Health & Safety considerations are rightly paramount, it is easy to forget this is a relatively recent phenomenon.   Up to and including the late seventiesand beyond, many workers throughout heavy industry and ship building in Northern Ireland were exposed to asbestos on a daily basis in the workplace (primary exposure) without any or adequate protective equipment and without proper or effective warning of the dangers posed by exposure to asbestos.   Moreover, many workers may have inadvertently exposed their families to the dangers of asbestos fibres by bringing their asbestos laden overalls home to be cleaned (secondary exposure). Asbestos usage was not confined to heavy industry but has also been discovered in school buildings and pre fabricated social housing

The modern world has a short attention span, and viewed in this context, historical asbestos exposure might be forgotten.    However, it is worth thinking for a moment that, as mentioned above, until comparatively recently, the men and women who built our ships, factories and railways did so in conditions that were fraught with risk and tragically they continue to pay the price.

Whilst compensation for mesothelioma and other asbestos related conditions, such as asbestosis, diffuse pleural thickening and pleural plaques can be secured from negligent employers, if insurance cover can be identified, the Government also operates a compensation scheme in the event that a personal claim is not possible (for example, if insurance cover was not in place and the negligent employer is no longer in existence).

Worthingtons Solicitors have considerable experience in pursuing asbestos litigation, and will gladly provide expert legal advice so that cases are dealt with as quickly as possible, in a sensitive and professional manner.  If you or a member of your family have been diagnosed with mesothelioma, or any other asbestos related condition, please contact Worthingtons for free initial advice.

Jonathan Duncan is an Associate in the Asbestos Litigation Department at Worthingtons Solicitors :  For advice, please visit our website or contact Jonathan on  028 9181 1538 or 028 9043 4015

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