British Steelworkers facing the threat of asbestos related illness decades later

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Asbestos Mesothelioma XrayMesothelioma, asbestosis and pleural thickening are just a few of the industrial diseases caused by exposure to asbestos. With symptoms often not arising until decades later, it is now that many former British Steelworkers from the East Moors plant in Cardiff are coming forward to pursue asbestos related illness claims.

There are currently over 10 cases being pursued against Zurich Commercial (the former site's insurers) with many more expected.

Workers unaware of risk


Symptoms, which often take up to 40 years to surface can lead to a fatal cancer illness. One former worker recently diagnosed with Mesothelioma claims workers were not made aware of the associated risks of exposure to Asbestos at the time.

Asbestos is believed to have been present in a large number of industrial sized furnaces, roof sheeting and was commonly used as lagging in pipes. Exposure would have occurred daily for sustained periods for many workers.

Snow time


It was common throughout sites in the 1960's that employees would use asbestos ridden materials in 'snowball fights' – this was the lack of awareness. Young apprentices would have 'snow time' when they were initiated through a dousing of asbestos.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) suggests that men who worked in the building industry where asbestos was used are now among those most at risk. Worst case scenarios predict an annual death rate increasing to a peak of 2100 by 2016.

Compensation claims


Welsh Assembly Members are making moves to address compensation arrangements. A Private Member's Bill is tabled for debate this autumn. With the overall goal of getting employers to pay for the treatment of workers, its passage has been delayed due to concerns raised by the Department for Work and Pensions.

Treatment such as chemotherapy is now being undertaken by some ex-workers as doctors estimated one Mesothelioma sufferers life expectancy of between 8 and 14 months.

Asbestos related illness remains a growing concern, as the Welsh Assembly look to push through its Bill it will become increasingly important to better understand any claims process and seek expert advice.

Industrial Disease


Emma Costin, Head of Industrial Disease at Simpson Millar LLP comments, "We have regularly acted for former steel and construction workers in South Wales and the South West who have been wrongly exposed to asbestos and developed asbestos related diseases. "

"The scandal of the 20th century history of asbestos is that profit was put before lives, time and time again and as a society we are still paying the price."

"Whilst there can be no compensation for loss of life or a loved one, I have always regarded it as a marker that we live in a civilised society, that by law, insurance must be put in place to pay out compensation to victims and their families should they be struck down by an asbestos related disease."

"It seems that we are in danger of letting the scandal of the 21st century become the denial of access to justice and thereby fair payment of compensation to victims. The profit of insurance companies and their shareholders is deemed a more precious commodity to protect than the right of claimants to receive fair compensation."

"The proposed portal for Mesothelioma claims will deny many victims the right to independent advice with many being terminally ill, in shock, in pain and without the services of an experienced lawyer to bring their claim. Because of this, they will simply fail to make such a claim to the huge benefit, of course, to the insurance industry."

"We applaud the efforts of the Welsh Assembly to force wrongdoers to pay for treatment of victims and will be campaigning to make sure voices and concerns of victims are heard at Westminster."


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