UK must do more to stop personal injuries at work from asbestosis

Personal injury solicitors across the UK often represent victims who have contracted asbestosis or mesothelioma in the workplace.

In February this year, the EC found that the UK was not complying fully with the Asbestos Directive, which was designed to prevent employees suffering a personal injury at work due to asbestos exposure. At the time, the UK was given two months to become fully compliant.

If employees only receive low intensity, sporadic exposure, employers are exempt from the Directive and do not need to perform regular assessments of their workers’ health.

However, this leaves many UK employees vulnerable to unmonitored asbestos exposure. Boiler fitters, heat insulators, plumbers, ship workers and even school teachers and caretakers are all possible victims and many of them have already lodged personal injury claims. There have even been instances where a partner has claimed personal injury compensation after contracting an asbestos related disease from washing work clothes.

The government has now agreed that all employers should adhere to the European Commission directive and the HSE launched a consultation earlier this month detailing the proposals.

Asbestos was used extensively in the 1960 and 70s in schools, offices and some houses. People who have breathed in asbestos fibres are more likely to contract fatal diseases such as lung cancer and mesothelioma. Even infrequent, low intensity exposure can have a devastating effect. Tight measures must be put in place to record any asbestos exposure and there should be strong resistance to employers being granted exemption from the EC directive.


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