Asbestos is a term used for a group of minerals made of microscopic fibres. It is a material that has historically been widely used in construction due to its fire-resistant, insulating and durable qualities.

Whilst intact asbestos does not in itself present a health risk, it becomes hazardous to health at the point that it is chipped, drilled, sanded, broken or allowed to deteriorate. The fine dust from disturbed asbestos contains asbestos fibres; when this dust is inhaled, the fibres enter the lungs and can seriously damage the individual’s health.

Ordinarily the cells in the lungs (macrophages) break down foreign particles before they enter the lung tissues and bloodstream. However, asbestos fibres are too difficult for the cells in the lungs (macrophages) to break down. The cells in the lungs (macrophages) release substances intended to destroy the fibres but as a result of this process the air sacs in the lungs (alveoli) become damaged and irreversibly scarred over time. This permanent scarring is referred to as asbestosis.

Individuals who develop asbestosis have a higher risk of developing other serious health conditions including: pleural disease, mesothelioma and lung cancer.

Types of asbestos

Asbestos used in construction can be categorised into three main categories:

  • Crocidolite, also known as blue asbestos, was banned in 1985 although imports to the UK ceased after 1970
  • Amosite, also known as brown asbestos, was banned in 1985
  • Chrysotile, also known as white asbestos, was banned in 1999

Whilst the bans have resulted in the material no longer being used there are a high number of older buildings that still contain the hazardous material and as such exposure to this hazardous material still occurs.

Duty of care

In order to bring a compensation claim for an asbestos related disease it is necessary to establish that an individual’s exposure to asbestos was caused by the fault of another; be that an employer, a public organisation, a nearby factory or as a result of exposure in the home due to asbestos fibres being transported on another’s work clothes. Historically, many employers did not take adequate steps to warn or protect individuals against the risks of exposure to asbestos and as a consequence many have been harmed unnecessarily.

Length of time between exposure and symptoms

It can take up to 40 years or more after initial exposure for an asbestos related disease to present itself. Each type of disease varies depending upon the exposure to fibres or dust, the time between exposure and the onset of disease.

High risk environments and occupations

High risk environments and occupations include:

  • air-conditioning mechanics
  • boilermakers
  • cable layers
  • caretakers and maintenance staff
  • chemical technicians
  • construction workers
  • demolition workers
  • electricians
  • gas fitters
  • heating engineers
  • insulation workers
  • Ministry of Defence (MOD)
  • painters and decorators
  • pipefitters
  • plasterers
  • plumbers
  • refrigeration mechanics
  • roofing contractors
  • sheet metal workers
  • shipyards
  • steamfitters
  • telecommunication engineers

In addition to assisting those who were exposed to asbestos as a result of their working environment we have also helped those who were exposed to asbestos as a result of exposure to fibres or dust carried on the work clothes of a family member or if they lived in close proximity to a factory where asbestos was used.

What happens if the business responsible is no longer trading?

Our team of Industrial Disease lawyers have represented many individuals where the business responsible for the exposure is no longer trading. Our solicitors will look to trace the insurance in place at the time of exposure, restore the company and make a claim for compensation.

Time limit to make a compensation claim

It is important to note that an individual has three years from the date of knowledge that their asbestos related disease was caused as a result of another to bring a claim. If you have been diagnosed with a relatively minor disease it is possible to reserve the chance to seek further compensation in the future if you go on to develop a more serious illness.

Contact us

If you or a loved one have suffered from an asbestos related disease such as asbestosis, pleural disease, mesothelioma or lung cancer please call our Industrial Disease solicitors for a FREE, no obligation chat on Freephone: 0808 164 0808 or complete the request a call back form and we will call you.