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Exposure to Asbestos Continues to Put Lives at Risk

A recent BBC report highlighted the number of people who are continuing to suffer serious, and often, fatal illnesses as a result of exposure to asbestos.

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Consultation Begins on New Asbestos Law

A formal consultation process is now underway on a new bill designed to re-claim the medical costs of treating people suffering from asbestos related diseases. The bill is backed by Clydeside Action on Asbestos and is being taken forward as a member’s bill at Holyrood by MSP Stuart McMillan.

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Death Toll from Occupational Cancers Continues to Rise

Recently released figures have revealed a large rise in the number of deaths from mesothelioma, which is a cause of great concern for the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH).

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NHS Workers Potentially Exposed to Asbestos

An NHS Trust has been fined after it was found likely to have exposed workers to potentially fatal asbestos material for more than a decade at its three hospitals in Hertfordshire.

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Control of Asbestos Regulations

The Health and Safety Executive has advised that the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012 came into force on 6th April 2012, updating previous asbestos regulations to take account of the European Commission's view that the UK had not fully implemented the EU Directive on exposure to asbestos.

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Firm fined after failing to manage asbestos

A laboratory testing firm has been prosecuted after putting workers at its Tyneside premises at risk of exposure to asbestos.

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Supreme Court brings justice for asbestos victims

Trade Unions have welcomed the landmark ruling by the Supreme Court which will affect many of the 2,500 people who are diagnosed with mesothelioma each year.Mesothelioma is a terminal form of cancer caused by exposure to asbestos. Mesothelioma has an unusually long gestation period, which can be in excess of 40 years between exposure to asbestos and manifestation of the disease. Insurance companies had tried to argue that employer's liability policies only covered mesothelioma which manifested as a disease at some point during the relevant policy period. The Supreme Court has rejected these arguments, which would have denied compensation to victims of the terminal disease, and ruled that the insurers of an employer at the time of the exposure to asbestos should pay compensation.In his judgment Lord Clarke concluded that: “The whole purpose of these policies was to insure employers against liability to their employees. That purpose would be frustrated if the insurers’ submissions on this point were accepted.”Lord Phillips added that diseases are contracted when the process that leads to them is initiated as a result of wrongful exposure to the noxious substance that causes the disease.The judgment went on to emphasise that these principles apply not only to mesothelioma but also to other industrial diseases.

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Failure to identify asbestos put workers at risk

A Cardiff company has been fined for putting the health of demolition workers at risk after a building survey failed to identify the presence of asbestos.Between 15th and 25th January 2010 PHH Environmental (UK) Ltd was commissioned to produce an asbestos survey on the soon to be demolished Old Castle Cinema in Merthyr Tydfil.Merthyr Tydfil Magistrates' Court heard that PHH's client relied on this survey to help its demolition company plan the work. But once demolition was underway, workers discovered asbestos and found they had disturbed it.PHH Environmental (UK) Limited pleaded guilty to breaching Section 3 (1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974. The company was fined £5,000 and ordered to pay costs of £3,000.HSE inspector Steve Richardson investigated the case. He said:"Anyone carrying out refurbishment or demolition work relies upon accurate asbestos surveys to reduce the risk of them being exposed to deadly asbestos fibres. It is essential that those surveys are comprehensive, intrusive and undertaken by competent persons - if not lives are needlessly put at risk."When asbestos fibres are inhaled they can cause serious diseases which are responsible for around 4,000 deaths a year.

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Prison sentence for asbestos related negligence

Two former businessmen have been sentenced by an Italian court to 16 years in jail for negligence that contributed to the asbestos related deaths of over 2,000 people, reports the Scotsman.Stephan Schmidheiny, from Switzerland, was the former owner of Swiss construction firm Eternit, and Jean Louis Marie Ghislain De Cartier De Marchienne, from Belgium, was a former executive and shareholder. They were charged with deliberately failing to implement measures to prevent damage from asbestos exposure at the firm's fibre cement making plants in Italy.The trial began in December 2009, and since then has heard evidence linking 2,100 deaths to exposure to asbestos fibres at the plants. The court also awarded financial compensation to over 6,300 victims or family members of people who died or became ill as a result of asbestos exposure while working at the factories.

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