Working with Asbestos
Despite its total ban in 1999, unfortunately, asbestos can still be found in buildings built before 2000 where it was often used for its insulation properties.
Asbestos attributes to 5000 worker deaths every year still1 which is more than are killed in road traffic accidents. Asbestos fibres cannot be seen or smelt when they are in the air so it is essential only those trained to work with asbestos do so.
What is Asbestos?
Asbestos is a silicate mineral that can be woven into materials such as the insulation in buildings. When these materials are disturbed, the fibres that are released into the air can be inhaled and unfortunately may cause serious lung diseases to develop. The diseases may take a long time develop but they are usually serious and often fatal.
Some of the main diseases caused by asbestos poisoning are:
- Lung cancer (asbestos-related)
- Mesothelioma (cancer of the lining of the lungs)
- Asbestosis (lung scarring condition)
- Thickening of the lung pleura (Pleural thickening) causing chest pain and shortness of breath
Main Causes of Asbestos Illness
Asbestos can be found in any buildings constructed before the year 2000. Those most at risk are those who work or worked in building and construction trades as there is an exposure risk when the fibres are disturbed.
Others at risk include:
- Painters and Decorators
Basically, anyone who may require access into a specific area of a structure which may contain asbestos.
The most dangerous asbestos filling material is loose fill asbestos. This was used to insulate premises between cavity walls, under floors and in lofts. It is made up of pure asbestos and if it is disturbed a large amount of asbestos could be released into the air.
Other common materials that may contain asbestos are:
- Sprayed and textured coatings
- Asbestos Insulating board and cement products
- Roofing felt
- Rope seals and gaskets
Unfortunately, most asbestos poisoning incidents could have been prevented. Some of the most common reasons for them happening are:
- Failure to risk assess an area properly
- Working at an unfamiliar site
- Failure to identify asbestos containing materials
- Lack of communication
- Workers not being qualified or trained to identify or work safely with asbestos
- Lack of training
- Lack of the right information
- The right procedures not being followed
It is an employee’s responsibility to comply with any management plans relating to asbestos and strictly adhere to all training and controls provided. If you come across potential asbestos whilst working, work should be stopped immediately and a risk assessment carried out. If you feel your employer is not implementing the appropriate controls, you can report your concerns to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).
The Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012 regulations requires those who either own or have the responsibility (the tenants) for a non-domestic building to manage asbestos present in the building. The duty to manage does not apply to domestic buildings except for communal areas. Those responsible for a non-domestic building are responsible for:
- Assessing for the presence and condition of asbestos
- Keeping an up to date record of all findings and locations
- Managing the presence appropriately including documenting the risk of exposure
1) Risk assessments
- Access the information supplied by the non-domestic building tenant to be able to accurately assess a job for asbestos exposure risks
- Assess whether the type and condition of asbestos requires a licensed contractor to work with it
- Accurately convey this information to everyone involved and have controls in place to appropriately and safely manage the job
- Report any accidental release of asbestos fibres during a work activity which could cause damage to someone’s health to RIDDOR (Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 2013)
- There are very strict guidelines with regards to the PPE that should be worn for potentially asbestos exposing tasks
- These include the use of disposable overalls, gloves, footwear and respiratory protective equipment (RPE)
- Any employees likely to be exposed to asbestos during their work require the correct instruction, information and training. This is a legal duty for employers
- This involves: asbestos awareness training, training for non-licensable asbestos work, training for licensable asbestos work, and how to deal with emergencies
2) Providing Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
3) Provide the correct training to employees
Can I Make a Claim?
If you have been diagnosed with an asbestos-related disease in the last 3 years that came about through work-related exposure, you may be able to claim for compensation. Asbestos risks were identified many decades ago and therefore, employers should all have the correct controls, expertise and training in place to ensure you can protect yourself from dangerous exposures to asbestos.
How Can Injury Lawyers UK Help?
Injury Lawyers UK has over 20 years of experience in this field. We have a team of qualified lawyers who specialise in bringing claims against employers who have failed in the duty of care to protect employee health and safety.
We know just how devastating a serious or terminal illness can be. At a time when you need to concentrate on your health and your family, Injury Lawyers UK take the stress out of the legal process. We only ever use clear and plain English so you never feel overwhelmed by confusing legal jargon and we ensure your understanding throughout the process.
We operate a no win, no fee policy meaning that you do not have to pay us a fee unless we are successful in securing compensation. We always aim to get you 100% of the compensation you are claiming for so that you get the justice you deserve. Contact us via one of the methods below and one of our legal advisers will talk you through your case and advise whether to pursue or not.
Getting in Touch
Call 0800 1123 156
Text “CONTACT” to 80011
Fill out our online claim form