Asbestos is a natural fibrous substance that was mined mainly in South Africa and Russia and then Imported in the 1930’s up until it was Banned in 1999. It was widely used in the manufacturing and construction sectors for its Unique Insulation Properties and it's binding capabilities.
It was used primarily for Heating Insulation in the roofing and flooring of buildings, most of which, built prior to 2000 will still have some parts containing asbestos. It was often mixed with other substances to produce paint and coatings, adhesives and cement.
It was used as sprayed coating, for it’s fireproof and ant-corrosion qualities, used as lagging for pipe insulation and used in insulating boards in ceiling, door and window panels. It can be found in cement roof sheeting and PVC floor tiles.
Asbestos fibres, often contained in asbestos dust, not visible to the human eye, if inhaled or ingested can cause serious harm to the lungs and the abdomen. Reportedly 11 Million People were exposed to asbestos in the UK. Many of them construction workers, insulation engineers, carpenters and plumbers. As well as factory workers in power stations, shipyards, fire stations, hospitals and even schools.
Medical experts accept that symptoms can take a Minimum of Ten Years to develop and in some cases up to 40 or 50 years. Whilst long durations of exposure to asbestos are harmful, even small levels can be seriously dangerous. It only takes 1 asbestos fibre to be inhaled. This particle can stay latent in the lung as the body is unable to expel it and can cause cancer.
Symptoms include breathing difficulties such as shortness of breath, chest pains or prolonged coughing. It is important to seek medical advice, X-rays, scans and biopsies may need to be taken to diagnose the condition.
It is important to obtain a medical report from a Respiratory Disease Expert. This will be needed to prove that the condition is an asbestos related illness. From the date of knowledge there is a time limitation of 3 years in which to make a claim for compensation.
Evidence will need to be provided as to the source of the asbestos exposure. Whether it be in the harmful use of the substance in manufacturing or in construction, the proximity to asbestos dust, or due to the handling of it in dock yards, ship yards and rail yards.
If it was in a working environment, then there was a duty of the employer to protect the employee. If harm could be foreseen then there is a case of negligence. Many employers were aware of the risks of exposure, but did nothing till legislation was passed to ban the use of it. It is unimportant as to whether the employer is still trading or not.
It is believed that during the 20th century use of asbestos, it still remains in 50% of buildings today. If disturbed from building works or otherwise and the fibres get airborne, there is again risk of exposure and serious harm.
State Benefits and Government Financial Awards are as follows:
If you have contracted an asbestos related disease and pursuance of a claim for compensation has viability, the defendants will be notified as will their insurers. The level of compensation will be determined by a large number of factors regarding the type of illness and the severity of it.
It is important that an Interim Payment be made initially to enable you and your family to have the financial support you need. It is possible that there may be further stage payments before full compensation is finally settled.