Many buildings could be contaminated with deadly asbestos and other hazardous dust which is released when industrial buildings are knocked down. Whilst laws are in place to cut down on the contamination of asbestos to those working on the buildings and whilst buildings are demolished, there is currently no connection between the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) and the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).
Both the SEPA and HSE have responsibilities and rules which are adhered to, but there is often little communication between the two, resulting in dangerous exposure to those in surrounding areas.
The loophole was originally highlighted in 2002 during the demolition of the former Motherwell Bridge steelworks in Uphall, West Lothian. This was brought to light when a campaigner – David Campbell-McIntosh – found his car 500 yards from the site covered in a coating of dust which was tested positive for asbestos.
There are currently measures being taken to bring this matter back to light after years of campaigning. Ms Fiona Hyslop, Culture Secretary and one of the most senior members of the SNP Cabinet has continued to highlight the issue in an effort to get departments working together for the health of those living around buildings which contain asbestos, but may have been previously classed as safe.
With the increase in demolition of older buildings with the idea to get more land to build new homes on, the problem could become more acute should nothing be done. With the renewed pressure on the Government and different bodies, people are going to get better levels of care when it comes to asbestos dangers. For more information, read this article.
If you are unsure about the dangers of asbestos, or want to know more about the claims process if you are suffering from an asbestos related disease, feel free to get in touch with Asbestos Advice Helpline.
The use of asbestos has decreased in recent years due to the now well documented and devastating lung conditions asbestos exposure causes. Despite the wealth of information we now have about the potential dangers of working with asbestos, unfortunately those who have already been exposed to asbestos still face an uncertain future.
With asbestos being a banned in the UK for over a decade now, one of the asbestos related dangers facing the British people is complacency. Asbestos still exists in Britain. In fact, asbestos is everywhere – in our schools, our homes, our cars and even our hospitals. Consequently, when we undertake renovation projects, remodel public building or modify our cars in anyway, we may still encounter and potentially disrupt asbestos, endangering ourselves, our families and the public.
Another reason people may become complacent about the dangers asbestos poses is due to the fact asbestos related conditions can take up to fifty years to establish themselves. Hence, while the use of asbestos decreases, the emergence of asbestos related conditions has increased and will continue to as those who worked with asbestos in past decades begin, now, to suffer the effects.
Only last week, a man in New South Wales was awarded 1.3 million dollars in damages. Mario Perez worked as a labourer at a bus depot in Chullora, Sydney’s from the 1970s until 1990. Mr Perez worked with asbestos-made gaskets used in bus engines, asbestos piping and beneath an asbestos roof which was not removed until the late 1980s. Now 68 years old, he is suffering from mesothelioma, a rare cancer predominantly caused by asbestos exposure. The cancer has spread throughout Mr Perez’s body and spine, preventing him from continuing to care for his grandchildren and devastating his family.
There is currently no cure for mesothelioma. Mr Perez, previous to developing cancer, also cared for his wife who has suffered from a debilitating heart condition since adolescence. Consequently, Mr Perez was awarded the 1.3 million dollars, taking into consideration his diminishing health and lost capacity to support and care for his family.
If, like Mr Perez, you are diagnosed with an asbestos related cancer, the Asbestos Advice Helpline can help you find out more about making a mesothelioma claim.
AN inquest has been opened into the death of a retired prison officer from an asbestos-related illness.
Trevor John Moulden, 72, of Barton Drive, Newton Abbot, was diagnosed with mesothelioma on June 2010.
He was admitted to Rowcroft Hospice on November 16 this year, but died 10 days later. The coroner has been told Mr Moulden was exposed to asbestos during his working life. The inquest was adjourned to a later date.
A job sweeping up asbestos more than 50 years ago could have contributed to the death of a 68-year-old man, an inquest heard.
Aged just 15, John Parton’s role at Carson’s Mill in Barnoldswick involved him filling tubefuls of the sub-stance, Burnley Coroner’s Court was told.
He never worked with the substance again, later joining the Army.
But earlier this year Mr Parton, of Mitella Street, Burnley, developed a malignant tumour in his lung.
Consultant pathologist Dr Walid Salman said as well as the tumour there was evidence of pulmonary fibrosis, where the lung tissue begins to die.
Recording an industrial disease verdict, East Lancashire coroner Richard Taylor said he considered the ex-posure to asbestos may have been a contributory factor.
RULES designed to ensure councils get value for taxpayers’ money were broken twice during the hiring of contractors to deal with asbestos at a school, it has emerged.
The council has already come under criticism from parents after the toxic fibre was discovered at the former Warwick School for Boys site in Brooke Road, Walthamstow, just weeks before hundreds of children from St Mary’s Primary were due to be relocated there in September.
Three classes and 18 staff from St Mary’s had already moved in to Brooke Road in September 2011 and an investigation is reportedly underway into whether any children were exposed.
Now it has emerged that two companies were paid to do asbestos-related work at the site in the summer without quotes from other firms being gathered first, so the contracts were never put ‘out to tender’ to ensure best value.
Risk management firm GBNS was paid £52,425, while Pectel was contracted to do asbestos removal work worth £39,100. The company was later paid a further £38,100 without any tendering.
GBNS was given a further £37,250 after alternative quotes were finally sought.
Campaigner Nick Tiratsoo, who helped uncover a string of council failures to comply with contract rules designed to prevent fraud over cash earmarked for disadvantaged residents, said he was “astonished” by the revelations.
The figures are from a report into the issue by the council’s Audit & Governance Committee. It said that GBNS was brought in immediately to help contain the Brooke Road site when the asbestos was identified.
The report states that the urgency of the situation justified the immediate involvement of GBNS, but it was wrong for the firm to then be given additional work without any tendering process or a formal waiver of the rules.
The work was commissioned by NPS London (NPSL), a firm part-owned by the council to manage its buildings.
It has now agreed to write to all staff reminding them that they must comply with the council’s procurement rules in future.
The Audit & Governance Committee’s report said what happened was “unacceptable”. Mr Tiratsoo said: “The revelations about Brooke Rd become ever more astonishing. Key documentation charting asbestos contamination goes unread.
“Romanian construction workers are put in considerable danger. An ‘independent’ report [commissioned by NPSL] turns out to be produced by a company part-owned by the council, which features the council’s chief executive Martin Esom and Cllr Mark Rusling as directors.
“And now we discover procurement rules relating to work on the site are ignored. Surely its time for the local MP, Stella Creasy, to intervene and demand a public inquiry?”
A MUM of four who claims her work in Bishop’s Stortford caused her terminal cancer is calling on former colleagues to help her battle for justice.
Lorraine Berry, nee Trundle, who lives in Sawbridgeworth, has been diagnosed with mesothelioma, aged just 48.
She is struggling to come to terms with the fact she will be robbed of family life because, she claims, she was not protected from asbestos dust while she worked for a development company in Bishop’s Stortford.
The cancer develops in the lining of the lungs and is caused by inhaling asbestos fibres. It is more commonly diagnosed in people in their 60s 70s and 80s as it can take up to 50 years to develop, but is aggressive and incurable no matter what age it strikes.
Lorraine has instructed expert asbestos lawyers to find answers about why she is now terminally ill in the hope of winning financial security for her husband Jason, their 13-year-old daughter and her three children from a previous relationship.
She said: “To know that I will miss out on so many important events, such as my youngest daughter going to university and my children getting married is impossible to come to terms with. I’m being robbed of my family life.”
She worked as an office administration assistant for Hockerill Court property development company Pinecraven Ltd, which is no longer trading, from 1983 to August 1985.
She alleges she was exposed to asbestos when she was based in a temporary office in the old Rye Street Hospital while it was being converted into flats.
Irwin Mitchell Solicitors is now appealing to any of her former colleagues to get in touch as they may hold vital evidence about the presence of asbestos and working practices at the firm.
Lorraine, said: “We’re all absolutely devastated by my diagnosis and are finding it so hard to come to terms with it because it’s so unexpected. I’ve always been very active doing pilates, gym and taking the dog for long walks and to now have cancer because of something that is not my fault makes me angry and heartbroken.”
She claimed: “The only time I can remember coming into contact with asbestos is at the start of my career when I worked for Pinecraven and we were based in an old hospital which the firm was developing.
“When I stepped out of the office I was straight onto the building site and there was dust everywhere which was kicked up by the regeneration work going on around me. Part of my job was to clean the office and this was also always dusty because we had the window open.
“The dust coated the window sill and was on all the furniture and the workmen were always in and out of the office. I was never warned about the dangers of asbestos or given a protective mask to wear.”
Lorraine, who was working as a finance manager before she became ill, began suffering from breathlessness and a dull ache in her shoulder earlier this year. At the beginning of April she went to her GP who referred her to a chest physician and after numerous tests she was given the diagnosis at Hertford Hospital that she was suffering from mesothelioma.
She is now undergoing intensive chemotherapy which is hoped will prolong her life, but cannot cure her.
Rosemary Giles, an industrial illness expert at Irwin Mitchell’s London office who is representing Lorraine, said: “This is a tragic case and it is rare for a person so young to be diagnosed with this horrendous disease.
“Employers have known about the dangers of asbestos since the 60s and 70s so there’s no excuse for employees not to have been warned about the dangers of the dust and provided with protective masks.
“I’m appealing to anyone who worked for Pinecraven Ltd between 1983 and 1985 to get in touch as they could help bring Lorraine the justice she desperately wants.”
A specialist industrial disease lawyer has said that the closure of a Welsh high school after ten times more than acceptable levels of asbestos were found comes as no surprise, adding that the hidden danger of asbestos in our schools has been known for years.
Bridget Collier, head of the Industrial Disease team at Fentons Solicitors LLP, said that the shock closure of the 900-strong Cwmcarn High School was potentially just the tip of the iceberg.
“The Cwmcarn case does not come as any great surprise, as we have known for years that asbestos was widely used in schools, typically for fireproofing and insulation,” said Bridget. “But the dangerously high levels of asbestos found in that particular school have thrust it under the spotlight.”
Reports over the last few weeks have detailed how workmen discovered airborne asbestos fibres that were ten times acceptable levels in the main block, leading to Cwmcarn High School being closed suddenly last month. Now a further specialist report has described the levels of asbestos in the school as posing ‘potential serious risk to health’, advising that it should be demolished.
“Since the closure we have received numerous calls from former pupils and staff at the school, as well as those from many others, who suspect they may have been exposed to asbestos,” said Bridget. “It is believed that as many as 70% of schools built before 2000 will have asbestos in them, and that wherever maintenance, repair or new construction has taken place, there is potentially some risk that needs to be managed.
“In this case, the specialist asbestos management company’s report suggests that ceiling tiles being disturbed by draughts, repairs to the electrical circuit and even pupils scraping chairs and tables in classrooms may have caused damage to asbestos boards,” said Bridget. “It also said that asbestos in the roof void may have been blown around the building by the heating system.”
Following the school’s closure, pupils are now being educated at Coleg Gwent’s Ebbw Vale campus 12 miles away, and will remain there for the rest of the school year.
“Whilst asbestos is a truly horrible material, and this latest incident has served to again highlight the danger of asbestos in schools, it should also be noted that asbestos that is still in good condition and unlikely to be damaged or disturbed does not pose any immediate significant health risks, as long as it is properly managed,” said Bridget.
“Certainly most teachers and pupils are unlikely to be at risk in the course of their normal day-to-day activities,” she said. “Whilst we are aware of some cases involving teachers who have developed asbestos-related illnesses after being exposed, those most at risk are tradespeople and contractors brought in to do maintenance or repair work who are more likely disturb asbestos-containing materials. We deal with a number of cases every year where workers – including builders, joiners, plumbers and electricians – have developed an asbestos-related disease because of the work they did in school buildings many years ago.
“It can take between 15 and 60 years after being exposed to asbestos before any related disease becomes apparent,” said Bridget. “Many people who are diagnosed often came into contact with asbestos several years ago and didn’t even realise. It is only when the symptoms begin to take hold that they recognise the devastating effect working with asbestos has had on them.”
Bridget, who for many years has seen first-hand the impact asbestos-related illness has on its victims, said asbestos fibres are invisible to the naked eye. “When inhaled, these tiny indestructible fibres lodge inside the body and can remain latent without symptoms for many years before causing a number of cancers, including mesothelioma,” she said.
Bridget said the most common places asbestos can be found in schools include the ‘lagging’ used as insulation on pipes and boilers; the sprayed-on asbestos used for insulation, fire protection and partitioning; insulation boards; some ceiling tiles; floor tiles; roofing and guttering; and textured coatings.
“There is a common misconception that asbestos is a thing of the past,” added Bridget, “but asbestos was used in thousands of buildings throughout the twentieth century,” she said. “Astonishingly, asbestos was still being used in some cement products up until as recently as 1999.
“The idea that the prevalence of asbestos in schools has suddenly been ‘exposed’ by the Cwmcarn issue is simply not correct,” she said. “As the number of calls we receive from people who develop asbestos-related illnesses each year goes to attest, the unfortunate truth is that asbestos has been around for a long time and continues to claim far too many victims.”
A grandfather has lost his battle against an industrial disease after it was discovered while he was being treated for pneumonia.
Brian Thomas from Westhoughton is believed to have developed the rare cancer mesothelioma after being exposed to asbestos at his place of work 30 years ago, the Bolton News reports.
He died at his home in Holdean Lea in August just three days after being discharged from the Royal Bolton Hospital to be cared for by his children and district nurses.
The father-of-three had been an employee at British Aerospace for between 25 and 30 years before he moved jobs to the industrial manufacturer for planes, vehicles and construction, Beldam Crossley.
It was at this Lockstock-based firm that his son, Darren Thomas, claims that his father said he was exposed to the deadly asbestos, with his role involving the cutting of asbestos sheets without protective equipment
While Mr Thomas was being treated for pneumonia, doctors then realised he was also suffering from terminal mesothelioma.
An inquest at Bolton Coroner’s Court heard that the 74-year-old’s illness was brought on by his exposure to asbestos.
A verdict of death by industrial disease was given by assistant deputy coroner Alison Mulch, who was quoted as saying: “That asbestos exposure led to the development of the malignant mesothelioma, which caused the pneumonia that led to his death.”
According to Macmillan, around 2,300 cases of mesothelioma are diagnosed in the UK every year, with exposure to asbestos the most common cause.
EXPOSURE to asbestos led to the death of a Westhoughton grandfather, an inquest heard.
Brian Thomas died at his home in Holden Lea, in August, from pneumonia caused by the rare cancer mesothelioma, which is directly linked to asbestos exposure.
An inquest at Bolton Coroner’s Court heard Mr Thomas’s illness had been caused by his exposure to asbestos almost 30 years earlier.
The father-of-three had worked for British Aerospace for 25 to 30 years, helping to build aircrafts before moving to Beldam Crossley, an industrial manufacturer for planes, vehicles and construction.
It was while working at Beldam Crossley, in Lostock Lane Industrial Estate, Lostock, that Mr Thomas would cut up sheets of asbestos without wearing protective equipment. Doctors discovered Mr Thomas was suffering from terminal mesothelioma when he was being treated for pneumonia.
His son Darren Thomas said his father had been adamant his exposure to asbestos happened when he worked for Beldam Crossley. The 74-year-old widower had been discharged from the Royal Bolton Hospital three days before his death and was being cared for at his home by his children and district nurses.
Assistant deputy coroner Alison Mulch recorded a verdict that Mr Thomas died from an industrial disease.
A 65-year-old man from Spanby Road, London E3 in the East End of London has received compensation of £205,000 after a landmark judgment in which legal action was taken against the occupier of the factory in which he worked rather than against his employer.
Mr Frank Baker worked as a lagger’s labourer for Climax Insulation & Packing Limited when he was just 16 in the early 1960’s.
During this time he worked for five weeks at the Tate & Lyle sugar factory in Silvertown, London where he was exposed to asbestos. In July 2011 Mr Baker was diagnosed with mesothelioma, a devastating cancer that affects the lining of the lungs and is caused almost exclusively by exposure to asbestos.
As Climax Insulation & Packing Limited has since ceased trading, efforts by previous lawyers for Mr Baker to locate the firm’s employer’s liability insurers proved unsuccessful. As a result, Mr Baker was told that he had no claim and that there was nothing they could do for him.
Leigh Day & Co became involved in August 2012 and decided to take legal action, on behalf of Mr Baker, against Tate & Lyle as Mr Baker had been sent to work at the Tate & Lyle sugar-making factory when he was exposed to the deadly material.
In English Law it is usual to sue the employer, as it is the employer who owes a duty of care to the employee. Therefore, by suing Tate & Lyle as occupier it was a challenge to established legal principles.
Within three months of being instructed, Harminder Bains, a Partner in the personal injury team at Leigh Day & Co, won £205,000 compensation for Mr Baker.
Mr Baker said “I can’t thank Leigh Day & Co and Harminder enough for what they’ve done for me and my family, I can’t believe it”.
Harminder said: “This is the first time I have heard of a judgment being made against an occupier in a mesothelioma case. Despite the case being contested, the High Court was satisfied that Tate & Lyle owed a duty of care, as occupier of the building, to Mr Baker.
“This will open the door for other asbestos disease victims to make successful claims”.
Ms Bains, whose own father was a victim of Mesothelioma continued: ”This judgment has allowed Mr Baker to receive compensation within his lifetime and to pay for essential items to make his life more comfortable.”