Campaign To Protect Workers As Portsmouth And Southampton In Top 10 Nationally For Mesothelioma Deaths
More than 2,500 people across Hampshire have died from a form of cancer linked to exposure to asbestos in the past 30 years, government figures reveal.
Portsmouth, Southampton and Eastleigh all feature in the top 10 local authority areas which have seen the highest above expected number of men die from mesothelioma, a form of terminal cancer which often develops decades after exposure to hazardous asbestos.
The figures published by the Health and Safety Executive highlight the ‘terrible legacy’ of the area’s industrial heritage, say specialist lawyers at Irwin Mitchell. The law firm’s Southampton asbestos-related disease team has represented hundreds of families affected by mesothelioma.
Irwin Mitchell is now marking International Workers’ Memorial Day by continuing their fight for justice for those killed as a result of poor working conditions.
The annual event on 28 April is a day to “remember the dead; fight for the living”. This year’s theme is entitled “dangerous substances – get them out of the workplace” and will have a particular focus on asbestos.
Expert Opinion“The reality is thousands of people are dying due to asbestos exposure in the past. The majority of those were exposed at work, and were completely unaware of the dangers of the hazardous material. There has also been a rise in the past five years of people becoming ill who simply washed the clothes of workers decades ago as the harmful asbestos fibres were thrown into the air.
“Workers’ Memorial Day is an important time to reflect on the terrible impact that asbestos has had on so many lives. These HSE figures highlight the tragic reality that we see day to day in our work.” Nicola Maier - Partner
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The most up to date HSE statistics date from 1981 to 2015. They show that a total of 2,532 people – 2,252 men and 280 women – across Hampshire, died from mesothelioma.
Portsmouth recorded the highest number of deaths with 434 – 395 men and 39 women – followed by Southampton with 408 – 355 men and 53 women.
Portsmouth, Southampton and Eastleigh all feature in the top 10 areas with the highest standard mortality ratio among men - which compares the amount of actual mesothelioma deaths recorded to how many were normally expected to die in the area.
A total of 395 mesothelioma deaths compared to an expected 140 were recorded in Portsmouth, while Southampton saw 355 deaths compared to an expected 156 and in Eastleigh 194 deaths were recorded compared to the 86 anticipated.
They were ranked fifth, ninth and tenth respectively.
Expert Opinion“Mesothelioma is an extremely aggressive and incurable cancer and, very sadly, causes a great deal of suffering to those affected by it.
“We often see cases where those working in industries such as the construction industry or the shipbuilding and maritime industry where the use of asbestos was prevalent, are often diagnosed with mesothelioma many years after their exposure.
“We believe that these figures highlight the terrible legacy that the use of asbestos in the workplace has created in Hampshire. That’s why it is so important that we work to get justice and answers for those who were exposed to asbestos.” Nicola Maier - Partner
Inhalation of asbestos dust and fibres can also cause lung cancer and other serious diseases, including asbestosis and pleural thickening.
Trade union the TUC is a key organiser of Workers’ Memorial Day. Public events are being held to commemorate the day.
On Sunday 28 April a ceremony will be held in East Park, Southampton. People are asked to gather near the Trade Union bench, near the Jury’s Inn hotel from 10.45am. A minute’s silence, followed by speeches will start at 11am.
On Monday, 29 April, an event will be held in Victoria Park, starting at 11.30am. A minute’s silence will be held at midday.