ISSN 1470-8108 Issue 54 Spring 2004


1. Asbestos: The Truth
2. UK Review of Asbestos-Related Diseases
3. Fast-tracking UK Mesothelioma Claims

1. Asbestos: The Truth

Weeks before a Congressional vote to curtail the rights of asbestos victims, a US report was published which detailed “an epidemic of asbestos disease and mortality that affects every state and virtually every community in the country.” Amongst the startling discoveries made by The Environmental Working Group (EWG)1, authors of “Asbestos Litigation Reform” Reconsider, are the following:

  • asbestos-related disease is responsible for the death of one out of every 125 American men over the age of fifty;

  • 10,000 Americans die each year, thirty per day, from asbestos diseases;

  • between 1979 and 2001, more than 43,000 Americans died from mesothelioma, a type of asbestos cancer; in 1999, there were 2,343 mesothelioma fatalities;

  • the national asbestos death rate is increasing; over the next forty years, 100,000 Americans will die;

  • asbestos deaths have occurred in each of the fifty states; the death toll is rising in nine of the ten states with the highest number of mesothelioma and asbestosis deaths.

The report exposes the way in which viable corporations use Chapter 11 status to minimize their asbestos liabilities; far from being on the verge of a financial abyss, as they claim, most of them prosper during their years in Chapter 11.

Documents cited by the EWG authors showing the complicity of major asbestos defendants and their insurers in the American asbestos epidemic are disturbing. The “unparalleled corporate callousness” with which vital information was suppressed and hazardous exposures were permitted represent the worst excesses of capitalism:

“For more than 50 years, company after company was willing to lie to their workers about the known hazards of asbestos, mislead regulators, manipulate science, and delay worker safeguards. During all of this time, not a single producer, user or insurance company stepped forward to defend the health and rights of workers who, with full knowledge of management and medical staff, were literally dying by the thousands from exposure to this substance.”

At the March 4, 2004 press conference which launched the publication of this authoritative analysis, Richard Wiles, Senior Vice President of EWG, criticized Congressional tort reform proposals saying:

“The focus of Congress is protecting businesses not victims and their families…This issue is a public health epidemic, it's not about bankruptcies.”

Wiles' call for an immediate ban on the use of asbestos in the US was reiterated by Dr. Richard Lemen, one of the report's authors and formerly the Assistant Surgeon General of the United States and Deputy Director of the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health. Acknowledging the terrible price paid by American citizens for the commercial exploitation of asbestos, Lemen expressed concern at the situation in developing countries where consumption is increasing:

“There is no reason to continue the litany of unnecessary injury and death that comes from asbestos use. Alternatives exist, the time to ban asbestos is now.”

On March 25, 2004, Senator Patty Murray told reporters in Washington D.C:

“It is unconscionable that so many innocent victims have died because they were exposed to a product that they were told was safe. But it is even more disturbing that our government continues to allow asbestos to be imported into this country and used in everyday products at home.”2

Murray's Ban Asbestos in America Act, first introduced in 2003, will be presented to Congress in April, 2004 as part of Senate Bill 1125 which would also restrict asbestos victims' legal rights to compensation. While Murray insists that the ban is necessary and that medical research must be done to find a cure for asbestos cancer, she is scathing about plans to create an underfunded national asbestos victims' trust fund; the scheme has been dubbed a “Robin Hood-in-reverse” as it would short-change the injured and insulate the asbestos defendants from lawsuits. Speaking at the press conference, mesothelioma victim Dr. Bret Williams said:

“Sadly, the asbestos bill before Congress would save industry many millions of dollars, but would not divert any of that windfall to research or prevention. Instead of solving a public health crisis, the thrust of pending legislation is simply to shield from liability the very corporations that poisoned me and legions of others.”

Amongst the millions of US asbestos victims are people from the town of Libby, Montana, home to a vermiculite mine owned by W. R. Grace and Company; for decades Grace's operations on Zonolite Mountain produced 200,000-300,000 tons of milled ore every year. When the company shut down the Libby mine in 1990, it was supplying 50 percent of US demand. With more than 50 million tons of ore left in the ground, what possible explanation could there have been for the seemingly inexplicable corporate decision to close down production? A new book: An Air that Kills by Andrew Schneider and David McCumber3 attempts to answer this and other questions relating to the repercussions of 70 years of vermiculite mining in Libby; in 400+ pages, it details the corporate negligence and government disinterest which permitted the lethal exposure to asbestos-contaminated vermiculite experienced by Grace's employees, their families, local residents and consumers throughout the US. When the company's culpability was finally exposed, it “allegedly removed billions of dollars of assets against which parties who were injured or damaged by Grace's asbestos-containing materials had claims.” Adding insult to injury, the insurance program set up by Grace began rejecting victims' claims for life-saving medication and oxygen after only two years.

One of many disturbing revelations made in this gripping book is the callousness of town officials determined to, at all costs, keep up appearances even in the face of so much human tragedy. On the journalists' first visit to the town:

“One after another, the elected and appointed officials of Libby and Lincoln County expressed shock and amazement that anyone would think there was a serious health problem in Libby… 'It's really much ado about nothing,' Libby mayor Tony Berger said. 'We've got vermiculite all over this town and always have… If it was making anyone sick, we would have been told by the county or the state or W.R. Grace,' said Berger, who had been the mayor since 1996.”

Even after the massive publicity generated by coverage in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, the involvement of the state and federal governments and the Environment Protection Agency's clean-up program, town leaders continue to soft pedal the asbestos catastrophe. Efforts to construct a permanent memorial to hundreds of Libby's victims are being resisted: “The last thing the Chamber of Commerce and the realtors want is any kind of monument to the people who died here. It just wouldn't be good for business.”

People in Sarnia, Ontario have also experienced the insensitivity of local establishment figures who choose to ignore the truth. This much is obvious from responses to an expose entitled: Dying for a Living, published on March 13, 2004 in Canada's The Globe and Mail newspaper; Ross Tius, a representative of the pipefitter's union took “great offence” at the article, Mayor Mike Bradley accused health care workers of sensationalizing Sarnia's asbestos epidemic, while MP Galloway called the article “offensive.”4 The preventable loss of so many innocent Canadian lives is indeed offensive as is government and corporate inaction over hazardous working conditions and the export of asbestos and Canadian-caused asbestos deaths. The truth, on the other hand, is not offensive even though it is, without doubt, heart-rending; in this case, the truth is brilliantly told by Journalist Martin Mittelstaedt and Photographer Louie Palu. By focusing on the case of mesothelioma victim Blayne Kinart, once a strapping millwright in Canada's chemical valley, now a skeletal figure with months left to live, they give “the worst outbreak of industrial disease in recent Canadian history” the public attention it warrants. “Mr. Kinart doesn't want his life to end in silence,” they write. “He wants to talk about what happened to him, to show his cancer-racked body.” Mr. Kinart's resolve to document “an injustice that shouldn't be tolerated” motivated him to lay himself open to intimate inspection by Palu's camera; several photographs reveal the devastating physical toll mesothelioma has taken on the body of a man who, once-upon-a-time, was “healthy as a horse.”

Canada's leadership of the global asbestos lobby is clearly illustrated by its role in blocking the addition of chrysotile (white asbestos) to a United Nations list of hazardous chemicals subject to international trade restrictions last year; by postponing further discussion until September 2004, Canada ensured asbestos producers a further twelve months of unfettered sales.5 Reacting to widespread condemnation of the Canadian veto, Bernard Made, co-head of Canada's delegation at the UN negotiations and Chief of the Chemicals Control Division of Environment Canada, pleaded for more time, claiming: “At this point we are not for or against. We haven't completed our consultations.” In light of Made's comments and mounting awareness of asbestos deaths in Canada, the holding of a consultation exercise on the UN initiative became inevitable. What was needed by the Canadian Government was a process that would satisfy the critics whilst leaving the status quo unchanged. There can be no doubt that the Consultation Document (CD): Addition of Chrysotile Asbestos to the PIC Procedure of the Rotterdam Convention released in February, 2004 was tailor-made to achieve these goals. On the one hand, the CD claims that consultation will help the Government “develop a position on this issue” and on the other it states: “these consultations are not designed to review Canada's domestic policy on the risk management of chrysotile.”6

If further confirmation were needed of the bogus nature of this process, a letter distributed with the draft agenda for the public hearing reaffirms the limited remit of this process:

“A reminder that these consultations are not designed to review Canada's domestic policy on the risk management of chrysotile. They are meant to gather the views of Canadians on the potential impacts of the inclusion or non-inclusion of chrysotile under the PIC procedure.”

On March 23, the release of the agenda for the meeting on April 1 (yes April 1st!) sparked objections from public health campaigners, trade unionists and asbestos victims' groups. The fact that the afternoon meeting provides a scant 2.5 hours for presentations and discussion is a clear indication that the entrenched federal policy of support for the industry at the expense of the victims is in little danger. Upon receipt of the agenda, Joan Kuyek of Mining Watch Canada informed Environment Canada:

“Iseriously object to the chosen format for the consultation. It is very clear that there are serious differences of opinion about PIC and chrysotile, which are based, not on misunderstandings but on disagreement. Without the opportunity to present research and clearly formulated analysis to the consultation, this analysis will be diluted and trivialized.”

Cathy Walker, Director of Health and Safety for the Canadian Autoworkers' Union, agreed:

“Indeed it is an appalling agenda. The powers that be in Ottawa obviously aren't interested in seeing a strong opposition to asbestos and are going through the motions, rather than engaging in any genuine discussion.”

The Canadian Government's continued resistance to “national and international efforts to ban asbestos around the world,” is condemned by Dr. Joe LaDou in his paper: The Asbestos Cancer Epidemic.7 Highlighting the role of Canada in prolonging the use of chrysotile asbestos in countries “that do not recognize and report health effects,” LaDou predicts:

“The asbestos cancer epidemic may take as many as 10 million lives before asbestos is banned worldwide and exposures are brought to an end…The asbestos cancer epidemic would have been largely preventable if the World Health Organization (WHO) and the International Labor Organization (ILO) had responded early and responsibly… The WHO and ILO, along with many other public health agencies, need to step forward with a clear demand for an international ban on asbestos and plans to accomplish the goal.”

Despite the introduction of a national ban and stringent new laws to minimize occupational exposure, the UK incidence of mesothelioma continues to rise:

“For a man first exposed as a teenager, who remained in a high risk occupation, such as insulation, throughout his working life, the lifetime risk of mesothelioma can be as high as one in five...The disease is increasing in frequency…we will be seeing many more mesotheliomas in the next 25 years. In the developed world alone 100,000 people alive now will die from it.”8

Using government data, Occupational Hygienist Robin Howie calculates that there will be a minimum of 38,000 UK mesothelioma deaths and 76,000 asbestos-induced lung cancer deaths in the next 20 years. The tragic effects of asbestos exposure are revealed by the story of one London family: John and Barbara Fitt and their daughters Evelyn and Yvonne. When John returned home from work at the Cape Asbestos factory in Uxbridge, West London in the 1960s & 1970s, he was covered in white dust; his surviving daughter Yvonne Power recalls:

“It was like someone had poured a bag of flour over him. My Mum would take his overalls off and wash them by hand. I'd sweep up. In the evening, my mum picked the bits of white fibre off his back because they would get in under his skin.”

Barbara, John's widow, asserts that no protective measures were taken:

“He used to cut asbestos boards by hand and with mechanical saws, which would make it very dusty. He was always covered with dust… There were no warnings about the dangers of asbestos, and anyone could wander in.”

John and his 45 year old daughter Evelyn died of mesothelioma; his seventy-one year old widow has now contracted the same cancer. Having been exposed to asbestos at home and as an employee at the Uxbridge factory, Yvonne tries to reassure her children that she will not succumb to the Cape curse like the rest of her family. Further north, hundreds more people have been bereaved by Cape's operations in Yorkshire. The number of fatalities from three decades of processing asbestos in Hebden Bridge has been estimated at 750; a further 1,250 local people have contracted asbestos-related diseases due to the appalling conditions at the Acre Mill plant and a complete neglect of public safety. Lack of accessible company records has prevented many of Cape's victims from obtaining compensation. According to an article in the Evening Courier:

“Government inspectors have admitted that they are powerless to make the company hand over files on hundreds of victims of the deadly dust.”9

Calls for a full public enquiry have been made by Calder Valley MP Chris McCafferty, the Courier newspaper and grieving relatives such as Derek Ellis, a former Cape worker and widower of Doreen Ellis, who died of mesothelioma in January, 2004 having been exposed to asbestos whilst washing Derek's overalls.

The truth is irrefutable; asbestos is a killer. From Libby, Montana to Sarnia, Ontario to Hebden Bridge, Yorkshire the “killer dust” has caused untold misery to workers, their families, consumers and the public. There is no doubt that increasing asbestos consumption in Asia, the Far East and Latin America will result in the globalization of this 20th century plague. In how many places do we need to witness the deadly effects of asbestos before we call an end to the slaughter? The time for consultation is over; the time to act is now!

2. UK Review of Asbestos-Related Diseases

A major review of the Industrial Injuries Scheme for compensating UK victims of asbestos-related diseases is on-going despite a December 31, 2003 deadline.10 According to a member of the Industrial Injuries Advisory Council (IIAC) Secretariat, although the second draft of the review is being compiled, submissions received over the coming months will be considered.11 It is hoped that by July/August, 2004, the completed report will be sent to Des Browne, Minister of the Department of Work and Pensions, who will consider whether or not to implement IIAC's recommendations; the Minister's decision should be known by the Autumn; the publication of the report should occur soon afterwards.

Currently, the following asbestos-related diseases are prescribed and therefore subject to special procedures:

  • D1: Pneumoconiosis (including asbestosis) recognized in 1931 under the Workmen's Compensation Act and prescribed in 1948 under the Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefits Act;

  • D3: Mesothelioma first prescribed in 1966; extended to cover primary neoplasm of the pericardium in 1983;

  • D8: Primary carcinoma of the lung where there is accompanying evidence of the following: asbestosis and/or bilateral diffuse pleural thickening, prescribed in 1985, and/or unilateral diffuse pleural thickening, prescribed in 1997;

  • D9: Bilateral or unilateral diffuse pleural thickening, prescribed in 1985 and 1997 respectively.

While the 1996 IIAC Report on Asbestos-Related Diseases acknowledged a significantly broader range of high-risk occupations for mesothelioma victims,12 by restricting benefits for asbestos-induced lung cancer to workers with asbestosis, unilateral or bilateral diffuse pleural thickening,13 it disqualified the vast majority of these claimants from obtaining compensation. In 2001 there were 1,848 UK mesothelioma deaths; as there are no data for asbestos-induced lung cancer fatalities, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) bases its calculations for this disease on mesothelioma data:

“In heavily exposed populations there have typically been at least as many, sometimes up to five times as many, excess lung cancers as there have been mesotheliomas. The ratio depends on a range of factors so one cannot be too precise about the overall ratio. A reasonable rule of thumb would be to allow for one or two extra lung cancers for each current mesothelioma death.”14

An estimate of 1,848-3,696 asbestos-induced lung cancers in 2001 is not unreasonable. According to the HSE Table 11S05: Prescribed industrial diseases of the lungs and new cases of assessed disablement by disease, a mere forty-three asbestos-induced lung cancer victims were awarded industrial disablement in 2001. This pathetically small figure was no blip; between 1990-2000, on average, only 52 asbestos-related lung cancer claims succeeded.15 These figures are representative of the longer trend:

“Lung cancer as a prescribed disease in connection with asbestos exposure has consistently given rise to between 50-80 new cases of assessed disablement each year from 1987-1996. In 1997 the number fell to 26, rising to around 40 cases per year over the next 3 years, 53 in 2001 and 57 in 2002… There is evidence to suggest that these figures substantially underestimate the true extent of the disease.”16

With the likelihood of receiving government compensation so low, the fact that personal injury actions for asbestos-induced lung cancer, in the absence of corroborating evidence such as asbestosis, do not succeed, leaves these claimants with nowhere to go. The case of Parkes v. Port of London Authority 1983 seems to be an exception. The claimant had received heavy exposure at the London Docks for over twenty years; he had been a smoker since the age of 13.The decision of Mr. Justice Davies stated:

“on the authority of a number of very well-known cases the Plaintiff could properly assert that by exposing the deceased to asbestos dust inhalation, the Defendants increased the risk of his contracting lung cancer by five times then accordingly they were liable.”

Although most legal actions brought on behalf of asbestos-induced lung cancer sufferers without asbestosis or bilateral pleural thickening have failed, the Fairchild precedent and new statistical and scientific evidence suggest that solicitors may decide to revisit this issue; according to the grapevine, two test cases are at an advanced stage.

Most asbestos-induced lung cancers remain undiagnosed as well as uncompensated. Table THORR01: Work-related and occupational respiratory disease: estimated number of cases reported by physicians in SWORD and occupational physicians to OPRA, 2000-2002 notes that from 1998-2002, the average number of these cases diagnosed annually was 124; clearly, thousands of lung cancer claims are falling through the net. The consequences of the failure to diagnose mesothelioma, another asbestos-induced cancer, was highlighted in a recently published paper: Radical surgery for mesothelioma:17

“The diagnosis should be made early and efficiently. Without it we cannot have meaningful discussions with the patient or plan treatment, and the patient's legal position in terms of compensation remains unclear. At the same time we try to control any pleural effusions to maintain breathing as long as possible.”

Accepting that little can be done about harmful exposures in the past, the authors say:

“What we can do is recognise it early, treat it actively and learn about best treatment with carefully thought out studies because we will be seeing many more mesotheliomas in the next 25 years.”

Remembering that for each mesothelioma, there will be 1-2 cases of asbestos-induced lung cancer makes the need for better diagnosis and treatment for this category of victims blatantly obvious.

A consensus reached in 1997 by medical and epidemiological specialists participating in the workshop: International Expert Meeting on Asbestos, Asbestosis and Cancer in Helsinki, Finland, dubbed the Helsinki Criteria for Diagnosis and Attribution,18 is now being used in several countries. The report states that as the four major types of lung cancer can be related to asbestos exposure:

“cumulative exposure, on a probability basis, should thus be considered the main criterion for the attribution of a substantial contribution by asbestos to lung cancer risk. For example, relative risk is roughly doubled for cohorts exposed to asbestos fibers at a cumulative exposure of 25 fiber-years or with an equivalent occupational history, at which level asbestosis may or may not be present or detectable. Heavy exposure, in the absence of radiologically diagnosed asbestosis, is sufficient to increase the risk of lung cancer…

A minimum time-lag of 10 years from the first asbestos exposure is required to attribute the lung cancer to asbestos.”

It is hoped that the Helsinki Criteria, submissions from asbestos victims' groups in England and Scotland and the input of other experts will persuade the IIAC to accept that all victims of asbestos-induced lung cancer should be eligible for disablement benefits.

3. Fast-tracking UK Mesothelioma Claims

Two years ago, a system designed to streamline the processing of mesothelioma claims was established at the Royal Courts of Justice by the Senior Master of the Queen's Bench Division (QBD) in concurrence with Lord Justice May, the then Deputy Head of Civil Justice, and pursuant to a Practice Note issued in the Central Office.”19 Master Steven Whitaker, assigned to oversee the QBD's “fast track” for mesothelioma claims, reports that since May, 2002:

“the majority of claims resolve into an assessment of damages on the date set at the CMC (Case Management Conference), and the large majority of those claims are compromised before that date. The level of co-operation from the profession has been tremendous. Most firms of claimant and defendant solicitors recognise the benefits of a fast track for the disposal of these claims, and accept that, in return, the court will expect the parties to 'self-regulate' the narrowing of issues, particularly those in relation to liability.”20

Discussing the workings of the system at the London seminar: Hypotheticals on February 2, 2004, Master Whitaker made clear his impatience with defendants' delaying tactics such as the last minute addition of third parties to litigation proceedings. Praising the Association of British Insurers post-Fairchild Guidelines for Apportioning and Handling Employers' Liability Mesothelioma Claims,21 Whitaker said they constituted “a robust pragmatic approach to the problems thrown up by multiple employer claims” and in so doing helped limit “the involvement of apportionment issues in the progress of multiple defendant claims.”22 According to Plaintiffs' Solicitor Guy Darlaston:

“The experience of the London office of Irwin Mitchell, specialist claimant solicitors, is a positive one. We have found that Master Whitaker is quick to eliminate unnecessary delay from proceedings, focusing the Defendants on dealing with the issue of liability and causation at an early stage. In many cases, if the Defendants have not made their position clear, or do not persuade the Master that there is a real issue, then judgment is entered at the outset, allowing attention to focus on quantum. Thereafter, a date for a final hearing is often fixed by the Master in a matter of several weeks – invariably forcing Defendants to consider settlement sooner to avoid the costs of going to trial. The procedure is without doubt beneficial to mesothelioma victims who now have a realistic prospect of receiving compensation during their lifetime.”

Andrew Morgan, from Field Fisher Waterhouse, agrees that the new system has reduced litigation time and the uncertainty of outcome thereby encouraging:

"Defendants to take realistic views and to abandon the more fanciful and speculative defences and to 'come clean' at an early stage as to which issues they will really contest at trial. The fact that all mesothelioma cases are dealt with by the same Master gives a procedural predictability to the claim after proceedings in the same way that the Pre-Action Protocol provides predictability beforehand. By far the greatest advantage of the Fast Track scheme, though, is that the Master can and will order a trial be held within 4-5 months of the defence being served, and he will often order an interim payment to boot."

Special measures for dealing expeditiously with mesothelioma cases are also being used by the courts in Manchester and Sheffield.

A year ago, judicial procedures were introduced in Scotland to speed-up the disposition of terminal cases (newsletter 51); Solicitor Advocate Frank Maguire and Harry McClusky, Secretary of Clydeside Action on Asbestos (CAA), were optimistic that the new Rules of Court would benefit live mesothelioma victims whose cases were often taking three years to navigate the system. On March 24, 2004, Harry McClusky gave the system a mixed review:

“Our experience at CAA over the last twelve months has been on the whole positive as far as the courts are concerned; the Lord President's Practice Note has been favourable in terms of mesothelioma clients. However, because Scotland does not have a judicially managed system, Defendants' solicitors continue to create unnecessary delays.”

These improvements are of little consolation to Moira Sim whose husband Brian died of mesothelioma in 1992 aged 44. Nine years ago, in an undefended legal action, Mrs. Sim was awarded 200,000 (US$360,000) compensation from Don (Contractors) Ltd., Brian's former employer; as the Aberdeen firm had gone out of business, attempts were made to enforce the judgement against its liability insurers: the Federal Employers Insurance Company. Alas, it was also in liquidation. In February, 2004, an action against the current incarnation of the insurers failed at the Court of Session in Edinburgh when temporary Judge Roger Craik QC ruled that the links between the employers and insurers had not been proved.



2 Pope C. Murray renews her effort to ban asbestos. Seattle Post-Intelligencer. March 25, 2004. Press Release: Senator Holds Press Conference with Victims of Asbestos-Related Illness, Medical Experts, Fellow Senators. March 25, 2004. According to Senator Murray: up to 35 million US homes, schools and business may contain asbestos-contaminated insulation, in 2002, the US imported $125 million worth of asbestos-containing brake linings and an estimated 1.3 million US employees “in construction and general industry may still face significant asbestos exposure on the job.”

3 Schneider A, McCumber D. An air that kills. New York, G.P. Putnam's Sons. 2004.

According to the latest news from the Construction Safety Association, the incidence of lung cancer amongst Sarnia pipefitters is almost 2.25 times that of Ontario's general population. From 1991-2000, the top three occupational killers in the Ontario construction sector, accounting for 84% of all fatalities, were: mesothelioma, lung cancer and asbestosis.

5 A spokesperson for WWF, the global environmental protection body, said: “Canada's objection to listing chrysotile is embarrassingly self-interested.” Canada is the world's second biggest chrysotile exporter.

6 Consultation Document: Addition of Chrysotile Asbestos to the PIC Procedure of the Rotterdam Convention. Website:

7 LaDou J. The asbestos cancer epidemic. Environmental Health Perspectives. March 2004;volume 112;number 3: 285-290.

8 Treasure T, Waller D, Swift S, Peto J. Radical surgery for mesothelioma. British Medical Journal. January 31, 2004; volume 328: 237-238.

9 Cancer files may stay shut forever. Evening Courier. February 16, 2004.

10 Industrial Injuries Advisory Council; website:
Submissions to: Industrial Injuries Advisory Council, Sixth Floor, 1-11 John Adam Street, London WC2N 6HT telephone: 0207 962 8066.

11 Industrial Injuries Advisory Council (IIAC) is a statutory body established under the National Insurance (Industrial Injuries) Act 1946, which came into effect on 4 July 1948. It provides independent advice to the Secretary of State for the Department of Work and Pensions on matters relating to the industrial injuries benefit scheme.

12 In 1996, IIAC's list of recognized high-risk occupations was extended to include: environmental health officers, building inspectors, maintenance managers, textile workers, painters, decorators, assemblers of electrical goods, laboratory assistants, boiler operators, etc. The list concluded with the note: “cases of mesothelioma in individuals who have worked in these occupations can be assumed, in the absence of convincing evidence to the contrary, to be due to occupational asbestos exposure. Significant exposure to asbestos may also have occurred in other occupations not included in the above list, particularly where the job did not involve working directly with asbestos but was carried out in an industry where asbestos was used (e.g. a clerk in an asbestos textiles factory) or in support services (e.g. laundering the protective clothing of workers handling asbestos). In these circumstances we recommend that the likely extent of exposure be determined from the evidence available to the Adjudication Officer.”

13 Report on the Review of the Prescription of Asbestos Related Diseases. Command Paper 3467. November 1996.

14 Asbestos related disease statistics - FAQ. Accessed on March 25, 2004 on the HSE website:

15 Health and Safety Statistics 2000/01. Health and Safety Commission, 2001: table A2.5:192.

16 Asbestos-related lung cancer. HSE website accessed March 25, 2004:

17 Treasure T, Waller D, Swift S, Peto J. Radical surgery for mesothelioma. British Medical Journal. January 31, 2004; volume 328: 237-238.

18 Consensus report: asbestos, asbestosis, and cancer: the Helsinki criteria for diagnosis and attribution. Scand J Work Environ Health.1997;23:311-6.

19 Whitaker M. The mesothelioma 'fast track'. New Law Journal. December 12, 2003;1860-1861.

20 Claim forms should be marked at the top left-hand edge with the word “Mesothelioma” and should include the Claimants' solicitors' fax and phone numbers and reference; they will automatically be assigned to Master Whitaker.

21 ABI website:

22 Plaintiffs' solicitors are reporting mixed results with the ABI's Code for Tracing Employers' Liability Insurance Policies. On March 17, 2004 Adrian Budgen wrote: “This code now seems to be more honoured in the breach than the observance, ie we find the response rate is pretty poor, which is very disturbing.”


Compiled by Laurie Kazan-Allen
ÓJerome Consultants