An interesting guest post by Thompsons Solicitors - Construction is among the most common industries associated with asbestos related diseases, but what other industries pose an asbestos risk to workers? Read more here.
Asbestos exposure can have a serious impact on workers and their families. When these dangerous fibres are inhaled, they can cause asbestos-related diseases, including mesothelioma, pleural thickening, asbestosis and lung cancer.
Asbestos-related diseases take decades to develop and symptoms can vary; they can be fatal. The Health and Safety Executive estimated that there were more than 5,000 deaths due to mesothelioma and asbestos-related lung cancer in 2016. While asbestos can lurk in many different types of work environments, there are industries where the substance is more commonly found.
Anyone can be exposed to asbestos in their work, communities or their homes, however, there are a few industries where workers, past and present, are more at risk of exposure than others. Take a look below at some of the most common industries at risk of asbestos exposure:
Workers involved in refurbishment and maintenance are a group with a higher risk of asbestos exposure due to old asbestos materials potentially being present. According to statistics, around 20 tradespeople die as a result of asbestos exposure every week due to historic exposure to asbestos. Painters, plumbers, electricians and other trade workers can develop an asbestos disease later on in life after working with materials that contained asbestos.
Tradespeople can still be exposed to asbestos today if they are working in properties where asbestos was previously used and hasn’t been removed.
Construction workers are another high risk group. Asbestos was widely used in construction before the 1980s in particular and also beyond the 1980s and it can still be found in buildings today. Construction workers who worked before asbestos was banned in the UK are at high risk of developing an asbestos-related disease.
Workers who are involved in demolition or refurbishment now can also come across, and be exposed to, existing asbestos in buildings. They can also carry the asbestos dust elsewhere on their work clothing.
Although asbestos was widely used as a fire retardant, it still becomes damaged in a fire. When asbestos products are damaged the fibres are released into the air and inhaled. It’s important to remember that asbestos can continue to release fibres into the air after the flames have been put out and when the debris is smouldering and being raked over.
Retired firefighters who were entering burning buildings where asbestos was used decades ago are now at risk of developing an asbestos-related disease.
Firefighters today are still at risk of asbestos exposure as many old buildings contain asbestos which can be damaged in a fire.
Asbestos can be frequently found in old vehicles, which puts mechanics at risk of asbestos exposure. The fibre was regularly used as a heat resistant in automotive products such as brake pads, clutches, gaskets and transmission parts.
Mechanics who worked on cars before the 1980s are likely to have been exposed to asbestos as they worked with vehicle parts which contained the fibre.
Workers today are also at risk if they remove and replace old parts from a car, causing asbestos dust to be released which mechanics can then inhale.
People who worked in the shipbuilding industry prior to the 1980s were at huge risk of asbestos exposure. Ships were widely insulated with asbestos lagging and also contained asbestos materials such as partitioning.
As well as a risk to the men who made the ships, there is a continuing risk to those who now repair and break up asbestos containing ships. Those who worked on the ships, for example dockers and merchant seamen, are also at risk of developing asbestos related-conditions.
Family members of those working in industries where asbestos is prevalent can also be exposed to asbestos. There have been many cases of family members who have developed an asbestos related disease from coming into contact with someone who unknowingly brought asbestos fibres from work into the home in their hair, on their body, on their work clothes, and even in a works vehicle that was also used for family trips
Some family members can be at risk today if their partners work in any of the above industries where asbestos may still be present and proper precautions are not taken.
Thompsons Solicitors is established as one of the leading firms of personal injury and asbestos litigation solicitors. We brought about the first-ever successful case for asbestos-related disease compensation in the UK in the House of Lords in 1972. If you would like to make an asbestos disease claim, contact our lawyers today.