Expert At Irwin Mitchell Calls For Action To Rid Public Buildings Of Asbestos
A leading asbestos related disease lawyer has urged the Government to do more to rid the UK’s public buildings of the deadly dust on a day when the UK remembers the victims of mesothelioma, a cancer associated with the material.
While mesothelioma is long known to be associated with industry there are an increasing number of people affected who have suffered from indirect exposure, such as washing the clothes of asbestos workers or by inhaling the dust and fibres while working in or visiting public buildings such as hospitals, schools and universities.
Adrian Budgen, Head of the Asbestos Litigation team at national law firm Irwin Mitchell, has made the calls on Action Mesothelioma Day (Friday 6 July) - an annual event that raises awareness of the threat posed by the asbestos related cancer, and remembers those who have suffered as a result of it.
The focus this year is calling for global ban on the substance. While many countries, including the UK, have now banned all asbestos imports, many third world countries are using the material widely in the construction industry. Some countries, including Canada are still exporting asbestos.
Budgen says that, although the use of asbestos is now illegal in the UK, the worry is that many in the future will become ill from exposure decades ago. Around 2,300 people die every year from mesothelioma and the latest statistics show that the number of annual deaths from the disease will peak in the UK around the year 2016.
Adrian Budgen said: “Asbestos has long been associated with industrial jobs with the likes of ship builders, railway carriage builders, plumbers, joiners and electricians most heavily affected. However, sadly, we are seeing an increasing number of people from other sectors, such as teachers, falling victim to mesothelioma.
“There has also been a significant rise in the number of people who have come into contact with asbestos in public buildings who are seeking legal advice with a recent report suggesting that more than 75 per cent of schools contain asbestos.”
Budgen said that, during the past few decades buildings built using asbestos materials have begun to deteriorate and crumble with many UK workers inhaling the lethal fibres as they carried out their daily work, with no idea of the dangers they were facing, putting them at risk of developing an asbestos related disease.
He added: “The rising numbers of people affected in this way who are now suffering from mesothelioma highlights the urgent need for a proper record of which public buildings, particularly schools, contain asbestos. Now is the time to take further action to prevent future, needless tragedies.
“Irwin Mitchell has repeatedly called for the Government to end the uncertainty of where asbestos is located in the UK by implementing a survey of all public buildings in the country.
“This would outline which buildings contain asbestos to protect the most vulnerable and identify a long-term asbestos management plan which should be implemented as a priority.”