ISSN 1470-8108 Issue 96 Autumn-Winter 2014-15

Contents:

1. Update from the Asbestos Battleground
2. The McDonald Supreme Court Judgment 2014 and Asbestos Industry Regulations 1931
3. Back to the Future? Apportionment and Multi-Defendant Occupational Cancer Cases
4. Like the Curate’s Egg, the Asbestos Removal Industry is “Good in Parts”
5. News Round-up

1. Update from the Asbestos Battleground

European cancer researchers have reaffirmed that the UK still has the highest age-standardized mesothelioma incidence in the world. Our rate of 3.4 per 100,000 men exceeds that of Italy (3.2), the Netherlands (2.85), New Zealand (2.5) and Malta (2.08), the other countries in the top five.1 The ubiquity of this asbestos cancer in Britain is not news; neither is the failure by successive governments, of all persuasions, to engage with the deadly legacy posed by our consumption of seven million tonnes of asbestos during the last century. On January 12, 2015, Shadow Minister of State for Employment Stephen Timms broke with tradition when he announced plans for a joined-up long-term national asbestos strategy which would both support the injured and pursue the ultimate goal of decontaminating the national infrastructure and environment. In a published interview, Timms said that a Labour Government would impose a standing three percent industry levy on insurers to fund life-saving mesothelioma research and would provide resources to enable the HSE to effectively protect workers from the imminent risk posed by asbestos-containing products hidden within the built environment.2

Under the Conservative–Liberal Democrat coalition, the rights of asbestos victims have been attacked by insurers, their lawyers and the Government. A recent attempt to deprive mesothelioma sufferers of substantial amounts of damages in order to safeguard insurance industry profits was quashed by the High Court in a judicial review judgment handed down on October 2, 2014 by Mr. Justice William Davis. The landmark verdict in the case of Tony Whitston (for and on behalf of the Asbestos Victims Support Groups Forum UK) v. Secretary of State for Justice and Association of British Insurers at the Royal Courts of Justice (CO/966/2014) vindicated claims made by the Asbestos Victims Support Groups Forum that the Government had failed “to meet the legitimate procedural expectation of those affected” via a contentious “review” of the “likely effects of the provisions of Section 44 and 46 [of the Legal Aid Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012 /LASPO] in relation to claims for damages for diffuse mesothelioma.”3 The Judge reiterated that the core point in the proceedings:

“is whether the Lord Chancellor conducted a proper review of the likely effect of the LASPO reforms on mesothelioma claims. For the reasons given above I conclude that he did not. No reasonable Lord Chancellor faced with the duty imposed on him by Section 48 of the Act would have considered that the exercise in fact carried out fulfilled that duty…

the Lord Chancellor has failed to carry out a review as required by Section 48. The statutory consequence of such a declaration must be that that Sections 44 and 46 cannot be brought into force in relation to proceedings relating to a claim for damages in respect of diffuse mesothelioma. The decision of the 4th December 2013 will fail as a result of the operation of Section 48.”

Commenting on the successful outcome of the judicial review, Chair of the Asbestos Victims Support Groups Forum UK Doug Jewell said:

“Following on from the October 2nd verdict, the legal rights of mesothelioma victims have remained unaffected. With all the political parties now focused on the election, we hope that nothing will change for some while. When this issue is revisited, the Forum will be happy to cooperate with all stakeholders to ensure that a proper, transparent and evidence based review is undertaken before changes to LASPO are made.”

In the run-up to the May general election, there will be many promises made by political parties. Each one of those asking for our votes should allocate a few minutes to read the tragic commentary published on January 16, 2015 headlined “Experience: I planned to kill my father.”4 The story detailed in this text has been repeated all over the British Isles – it describes the terrible suffering and human loss caused by asbestos, a substance which brought great wealth and many benefits to the executives, directors and shareholders of British asbestos corporations. In a scant eleven paragraphs, Sarah Partridge explains how her father, a GP with mesothelioma, had asked for her help to end his life. “I said yes and shut the door. I opened it again and said, ‘But only because I love you.’” The extent of his physical torment had driven a loving daughter to contemplate the unthinkable. The least the new government can do is to acknowledge these tragedies and eliminate the hazard once and for all.

2. The McDonald Supreme Court Judgment 2014 and Asbestos Industry Regulations 1931

by Robin Howie5

Background

Mr. McDonald, a lorry driver employed with the Building Research Station, had uplifted pulverised fuel ash from Battersea Power Station about twice a month between 1954 and 1959. During “most” of his visits to the Power Station Mr. McDonald spent some time in the vicinity of laggers as they removed old lagging and/or prepared and applied new lagging. He had no other known source of exposure to asbestos.

Mr. McDonald was diagnosed as suffering from mesothelioma in July 2013. He died from that disease in February 2014.

On the basis of the assumption that Mr. McDonald’s mesothelioma arose as a result of his exposures to asbestos at Battersea Power Station, he, and subsequently his widow, sued the successors of the Building Research Station and of Battersea Power Station for negligence on the allegation that these entities had been negligent in common law and in breach of their duties under Section 47 of the Factories Act 1937 and regulation 2(a) of the Asbestos Industries Regulations 1931.

Section 47 of the Factories Act 1939 specified that: “In every factory in which, in connection with any process carried on, there is given off any dust or fume or other impurity of such a character and to such an extent as to be likely to be injurious or offensive to the persons employed, or any substantial quantity of dust of any kind, all practicable measures shall be taken to protect the persons employed against inhalation of the dust or fume or other impurity ...

The Asbestos Industries Regulations 1931 specified that they applied to “all factories and workshops” where defined processes were undertaken and regulation 2(a) specified that: “Mixing or blending by hand of asbestos shall not be carried on except with an exhaust draught effected by mechanical means so designed and maintained as to ensure so far as practicable the suppression of dust during the processes.”

Section 47 therefore only applied when the dust etc. was of such a character and to such an extent as to be likely to be injurious, i.e. there was threshold exposure based on contemporary appreciation of the risk from exposure. Conversely, regulation 2(a) imposed an absolute duty to provide extract ventilation that would suppress dust to the lowest level practicable. Note that “practicable” meant possible in the light of current knowledge and invention. Where there was debate as to what was “practicable” the onus of proof was on the occupier, e.g. see Fife and Machin (1973) pages 21-22.

Court Judgments

High Court Judgment

The High Court dismissed Mr. McDonald’s case on the basis that it was not foreseeable that his likely level of exposure to asbestos would have been known during the period of interest to cause harm, and that therefore there had been no breach of Section 47 of the Factories Act 1937. In addition it was considered that the Asbestos Industry Regulations 1931 did not apply.

I do not have access to the report of the forensic scientist called on behalf of Mr. McDonald but surmise that that report failed to address the comment of the Chief Inspector of Factories in his Annual Report for 1938 that “It is not many years ago when the dust of asbestos was regarded as innocuous, while today it is recognised as highly dangerous…” or the comment in the Annual Report for 1949 that “It is very necessary to keep an ever watchful eye for the new use of asbestos in some manufacturing or other process, for example, on ships or buildings where the work may be undertaken by someone not fully realising the necessity of preventing as far as possible the inhalation of asbestos fibre and dust,” MoL (1938, 1949).

From the above comments in the Annual Reports I consider that a contemporary reasonable employer would have been aware throughout the period of interest of “the necessity of preventing as far as possible the inhalation of asbestos fibre and dust”; i.e. would have been aware that low levels of exposure to airborne asbestos could cause disease.

Court of Appeal, Case No: B3/2013/1743

It was held that the High Court dismissal of Mr. McDonald’s claims against both the Building Research Station and Battersea Power Station under Section 47 of the Factories Act 1937 were correct. However, the Court considered that the Asbestos Industries Regulations 1931 would have applied to the laggers’ mixing of asbestos by hand in a power station and, that as there was no proof that the extract ventilation required by regulation 2(a) of the Asbestos Industry Regulations had been provided, the successors of Battersea Power Station were held liable.

Supreme Court, [2014] UKSC 53

National Grid, as successors to Battersea Power Station appealed against the decision of the Court of Appeal and Mr. McDonald cross-appealed against the Court of Appeal’s dismissal of his claim under Section 47 of the Factories Act 1937.

The Supreme Court examined the background of the Asbestos Industries Regulations 1931 in detail and unanimously agreed that these Regulations would have applied to the laggers’ mixing of asbestos in a power station. The Court upheld the decision of the Court of Appeal’s decision regarding National Grid on a majority of three to two and dismissed Mr. McDonald’s cross-appeal by a majority of four to one.

Comment

The Supreme Court decision that the Asbestos Industries Regulations 1931 was not restricted to primary asbestos manufacturing industry but applied throughout general industry where the relevant process had been undertaken has potentially huge ramifications in that in any situation where a person has been exposed to asbestos from any process covered by the Regulations, whether as a lagger or as a bystander, can now claim that he/she should have been covered by the duties specified in these Regulations and should therefore be able to sue the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), as successors to HM Factory Inspectorate, on the basis that the Inspectorate’s interpretation of the applicability of the 1931 Regulations had been negligent.

In my own experience from having been involved in about 400 legal cases which have involved asbestos-induced health effects, many cases have to discount significant early-career exposures to asbestos because the employer(s) no longer exist and/or that no insurer can be found.

Although the Mesothelioma Act 2014 provides compensation for mesothelioma cases in such situations the eligibility for such compensation under the Act is limited and the maximum compensation is set at 80% of the average level of mesothelioma compensation.

A direct claim against HSE for the negligence of their predecessors could well have wider eligibility than the 2014 Act and the compensation available should not be limited as above.

References

Fife I and Machin EA (1973) Redgrave’s Health and Safety in Factories. Butterworth and Company (Publishers) Limited: London.

Machell (1997) Judgment in the High Court of Justice, Queens Bench Division, Manchester Registry, between Berry Irene Jeromson and Shell Tankers UK Ltd and between Ruth Mary Dawson and The Cherry Tree Machine Co. Ltd. and Shell Tankers (UK) Ltd.

Ministry of Labour (& National Service) (1938, 1949) Annual Reports of HM Chief Inspector of Factories. HMSO: London.

Royal Courts of Justice (2013) Case No: B3/2013/1743. Downloaded from RCJ website, November 2014.

UK Supreme Court (2014) [2014] UKSC 53. Downloaded from UKSC website, November 2014.

3. Back to the Future? Apportionment and Multi-Defendant Occupational Cancer Cases

by Patrick Walsh6

Mr James Heneghan was employed throughout his working life in employments which exposed him to massive amounts of asbestos dust. He was employed by at least 10 employers between 1961 and 1974 who negligently exposed him to asbestos dust at work.

In November 2011 he developed chest symptoms. The initial diagnosis was mesothelioma. Subsequently, however, a biopsy showed that it was in fact adenocarcinoma of the lung. Sadly, Mr Heneghan died from his disease on January 3, 2013.

The claim for compensation was taken over by his son, Professor Carl Heneghan; court proceedings having been started in Mr James Heneghan’s lifetime. Of the ten known employers, six had been traced.

The evidence before the court at the “show cause” hearing was that the total dose of asbestos he was exposed to during his working life was 133fb/ml years, and that the six traced defendants were responsible for a total of 46.9 fb/ml years, or 35.2% of the total dose.

It was accepted that in order to prove that the deceased’s cancer was caused by asbestos exposure it would have to be shown that the total dose of asbestos to which he was exposed was sufficient to more than double his risk of contracting lung cancer.

Since the minimum threshold for establishing a doubling of the risk was set at 25 fb/ml years, the exposure suffered by the deceased was 5.3 times that needed to prove that he would not have contracted lung cancer “but for” his exposure to asbestos dust.

The deceased had been a very modest smoker until the mid-1970s; but it was accepted that his smoking would not have caused the cancer but for his asbestos exposure.

On these bases Judgment was entered against all six defendants, and the court ordered that there be a trial on the following issues:

  • Did apportionment apply or was each defendant responsible in full for the damages?
  • What deduction from damages should there be for contributory negligence for smoking?
  • The amount of damages.

The case was tried by Mr Justice Jay on November 25 and 26, 2014.

By that stage the defendants had abandoned the contributory negligence from smoking argument and damages had been agreed at 175,000. It was accepted that if apportionment was found to apply, then the claimant would recover 61,600 in total from the defendants.

The Competing Arguments on Causation

The Defendants’ Argument

Both sides accepted that there was a two-stage test of causation in asbestos related lung cancer cases.

The first stage was that the claimant had to prove that the cancer would not have developed at all “but for” the asbestos dust exposure. By showing that the asbestos exposure was sufficient to more than double the risk the claimant had satisfied stage 1.

The second stage was the area of dispute.

The defendants argued that, technically, the claimant should have to prove that each of the defendants individually had more than doubled the risk of the claimant contracting lung cancer in order show they had contributed to the disease. They said it was not possible for the claimant to prove this – one defendant was responsible only for 2.5% of the total dose while the defendant causing the greatest exposure was responsible for 10% of the total dose.

They argued that if each of the six defendant’s individual contribution to the total dose was removed (i.e. all of their contribution was removed), the total dose from the unsued defendants was more than sufficient to double the risk, and so the claimant would still have developed asbestos related lung cancer. Strictly, the claim should fail completely against all six defendants. However, accepting that this would produce an unjust result they proposed that a fair solution was for the court to apply Fairchild v Glenhaven Funeral Services Ltd.

Applying the Fairchild ruling would mean the claimant could not prove a contribution to the damage by each defendant, only that each defendant had increased the risk of the claimant contracting lung cancer. Further, they argued, if Fairchild applied, then so did the House of Lords ruling in Barker.

The majority in Barker (Lord Rodger dissenting) had ruled that in cases to which the Fairchild exception applied (Fairchild v Glenhaven Funeral Services Ltd [2003] 1 AC 32) there should be apportionment of damages, and each tortfeasor was only liable to pay damages for the proportion of the risk of contracting mesothelioma they had created.

The defendants argued that since the statutory reversal of Barker set out in Sect. 3 of the Compensation Act 2006 applied only to mesothelioma cases, apportionment would apply.

The Claimant’s Argument

The claimant’s argument was that the medical evidence was that each defendant had contributed not just to the risk of the claimant contracting lung cancer, but to the disease itself.

If the court accepted that was the meaning of the medical evidence, it followed that the claimant had established that each defendant had made a material contribution to causing the disease.

If that were the case, then material contribution to the injury in an indivisible disease case, such as lung cancer, meant that the claimant was entitled to recover the damages in full from any of the tortfeasors, even though they were responsible for a small proportion of the overall dose.

The claimant relied on the case of Bonnington Castings v Wardlaw [1956] AC 613 as the basis for this argument.

The claimant further made it clear that the Court of Appeal and Supreme Court had said on several occasions that the Fairchild exception should not be used in any new situations and therefore there was no justification for extending it further to cover multi-defendant lung cancer cases.

The claimant further argued that even if the defendants were correct and Fairchild did apply, Barker was no longer good law following the ruling of the Supreme Court in Durham v BAI ( Run Off) Ltd [2012] UKSC14 – the Court of Appeal had explicitly stated this in IEGL v Zurich Insurance PLC UK branch [2013] EWCA Civ39. Consequently, there should be no apportionment.

Judgment

Mr Justice Jay handed down his decision on December 11, 2014.

He accepted the defendants’ submissions and rejected the claimant’s arguments.

He expressed the view that Barker was still good law and that the claimant should only recover 35.2% of the agreed damages.

He went on to accept that it was a very difficult issue and, unusually, granted permission to appeal to the Court of Appeal.

The Appeal has now been lodged.

Discussion

Ultimately the Courts will have to decide as a matter of policy who should bear the loss when only a proportion of the insurance history can be traced in a multi-party cancer case.

I would argue that the negligent defendants and their insurers are the group who should bear the loss, not the innocent claimant.

It is important to remember that Mr Heneghan was negligently exposed to asbestos dust by each of the six defendants sued. There was no fault on his part.

Mr. Heneghan did not develop 35.2% of lung cancer – he suffered from and died from the full effects of the disease which was indisputably caused by negligent exposure to asbestos dust. In this he was in exactly the same position as someone who had contracted mesothelioma.

If Parliament thought that it was unjust for innocent mesothelioma victims to only recover part of their damages following the Barker decision, how can it be any less unjust for innocent asbestos cancer victims to only recover part of their damages?

The only difference between the two groups of victims is the precise cell type of the disease – the cause, nature and effect of the diseases are otherwise exactly the same.

The issue may well proceed to the Supreme Court in a re-run of the original Barker decision. If it does, let’s hope they get it right this time and it does not prove necessary to ask Parliament once again to put things right by amending Sect. 3 of the Compensation Act 2006 to apply to all occupationally caused cancers, not just mesothelioma.

4. Like the Curate’s Egg, the Asbestos Removal Industry is “Good in Parts”

by Richard Morgan7

The history of growth of the UK’s asbestos removal industry has been a mixture of greed and ignorance. Progress from the early days that I recall, where a piece of calico around a worker’s mouth and nose was all you would expect for protection, to a theoretically well regulated and monitored workplace is still a work in progress. Evidence from coroners’ courts shows the effect poor working environments has had on workers involved in this dangerous trade; while enforcement is weak, the success of some recent prosecutions undertaken by the HSE shows that abuse is still happening. A “cost benefit analysis” would show that breaking the law pays very highly in this industry. And the risk of inspection/prosecution is very low. The decent firms are constantly being undercut by “cowboy outfits” who see the derisory sanctions by the HSE and the courts as a risk well worth taking.

As a representative of the GMB who has been actively working in the industry as both a worker and supervisor for 40 years I have seen the industry from both sides. As a member of the ALG (Asbestos Liaison Group) I have been involved in the process of advising the committee about the worker’s perspective regarding the industry. The ALG has formulated best practice guides for stripping, surveying, analysing and training of operatives and supervision.

In the course of my work, with the ALG, I was contacted recently by a group of workers who reported some very worrying practices on sites from all over the UK. From these workers I was made aware of the issues discussed below – involving many sites and various employers.

There is constant pressure from employers to cut corners and finish work quickly. A regular feature of the industry is undercutting quotes from decent firms – quotes reflecting the true cost of a safe and proper strip out. Employers were also being forced to reduce time allowances for various procedures on site, as the clients had little interest in workers’ safety – only in getting their premises back into production. Workers were encouraged by supervisors to cut corners to speed up the completion of jobs. Also reported, were incidents of the provision of low quality PPE and the overuse of filters due to rationing on site. I was told that “dry stripping” was still taking place, by an informant who also said that due to the short term, transitory nature of the industry, many agencies were supplying foreign workers with a minimal standard of training. The poor quality of training in general was also highlighted as being a problem, with a tick box mentality and the failure to transfer lessons learnt in the classroom to the workplace; this applied to managers, supervisors and workers in equal measure. Workers also experience the constant fear of dismissal or discrimination if they seek to stand up for their rights and, as the industry is relatively small, employers often view the workforce as a temporary cost pressure and not a highly skilled asset.

All this leads to the feeling of isolation and despondency many men experience daily. The feeling that the HSE is not interested in their plight is reinforced by the lack of site visits, and the constant cutting of HSE budgets leaves little hope that the situation will improve. When a poor employer is brought before the courts a derisory fine or minimal sanction is usually applied. A simple “cost benefit analysis” would show the risk of being inspected whilst working illegally is very small and the profits to be gained are very high. The reality for many workers is that little has changed for them and managers and directors only view the bottom line in cash terms – the health and safety of their workers is a thing to be reckoned with in the distant future.

The number of licensed contractors was formerly around 800 but has now been reduced to half that figure. Much of this contraction is due to weaker companies being unable to satisfy the ALG that they are competent; others are forced out by cut-throat competition within the trade.

In the interests of objectivity I must also say that there are some excellent companies who do work within both the spirit and letter of the law, though they are few and far between, according to my informants. Such firms tend to be unionised and work on the larger “Blue Book” sites where the asbestos strip is the first operation in the shut-down of major sites. The situation on many other sites differs greatly, with the informal economy being used to a large degree. Ignorance of the dangers coupled with fear of unemployment is the reason why men will risk their own and others lives to earn a living. Many workers feel they have no voice and that the HSE is either unwilling or unable to help them. Many employers see unions as being a threat to their profits instead of a guarantee of a safe and law abiding workforce.

So this is a brief overview of the asbestos industry in the UK from the perspective of a worker who was not a union member, but is now. After being contacted by the group of workers, I spoke to the GMB’s lead officer for the industry, David Hulse who invited a representative of the group to a meeting in Euston Road in July, 2014. We had a long and very productive discussion in which we offered our support to any worker who was prepared to join us in the fight. We have offered to go anywhere and speak to anyone who has issues in the industry, and have offered to set up a section for removal operatives. In addition, we have written an open letter to the industry outlining many of the concerns listed in this article. For those workers willing to take up the challenge, training in all aspects of Health and Safety up to a professional level is available to those elected as workers’ representatives. As a lay officer of the GMB I have tabled the concerns of workers to be discussed at the next ALG meeting. Nationally, we keep asbestos on top of our agenda through parliamentary committees, the HSE, the TUC, and locally through working with victim support groups to highlight the dangers of asbestos.

The UK is one of the best regulated countries in terms of occupational health, and has some of the most competent workers in the world. Our legislation and the HSE’s web site are used as the basis for other countries to develop their own regimes. However, there are thousands of workplaces and schools still having tonnes of asbestos in place, some of it in poor condition, that needs to be made safe or removed. Whilst vast profits can be made by ignoring the law and the health of workers there will continue to be exploitation by unscrupulous employers. What is lacking is stronger intervention by the HSE and the full application of the law with sufficiently severe sanctions, including long custodial sentences for directors who continue to flout the law.

5. News Round-up

Developments

Diffuse Mesothelioma Payment Scheme

In the first seven months of operations the Diffuse Mesothelioma Payment Scheme Levy 2014 paid out 15 million, according to a press release issued on November 28, 2014 by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP).8 The DWP has predicted that a further 32 million could be disbursed by this insurance industry funded scheme by March 2015. The average sum of compensation being paid is 125,000. Eligible claimants include sufferers of diffuse mesothelioma diagnosed after July 25, 2012 and surviving families who can’t trace a liable employer or an employers’ insurer.

Ministerial Announcement on Mesothelioma

On December 8, 2014, Minister Shailesh Vara told Parliament that the status quo would be maintained for mesothelioma claimants following the outcome of the judicial review.9 This means that the no-win, no-fee regime will continue pending further review. Vara also told MPs that changes are being introduced to speed up compensation claims which include streamlining the processes for obtaining hospital medical records and information from HM Revenue and Customs needed for legal cases.10

Lung Cancer Test Case Appeal

On December 11, 2014, a High Court handed down the decision in Heneghan v Manchester Dry Docks and others, an asbestos-related lung cancer test case.11 Under consideration was whether damages awarded for this type of injury were divisible under the rules laid down in the House of Lords’ decision in the Barker case. The deceased was employed by six defendants, all of whom admitted liability. Mr. Justice Jay found that “apportionment is the appropriate outcome in the present case…” An appeal is being pursued. According to one legal expert: “there is a strong possibility that whatever happens in the Court of Appeal the case will end up in the Supreme Court.”

Scottish Proposals to Recoup Asbestos Costs

On January 7, 2015 a bill was presented by Stuart McMillan MSP to the Scottish Parliament that aims to recoup the costs of diagnosing and treating people with asbestos-related diseases (ARDs) from their former employers. McMillan informed Parliament that currently 20+ million is being spent on treating people with ARDs in Scotland. Commenting on this bill, a spokeswoman for the Glasgow-based campaigning group Clydeside Action on Asbestos predicted the consultation on this proposal, which is open till March 30, will receive negative input from insurers who could face a multi-million pound bill for these charges.12

Literature

The National Lung Cancer Audit Report on Mesothelioma

Data drawn from 8,700 patients diagnosed with mesothelioma in the UK between 2008 and 2012 were published in a report issued in September 2014 entitled: The National Lung Cancer Audit Report on Mesothelioma. The text highlighted the level of variation in diagnosis, treatment and survival for mesothelioma by geographical areas in England and Wales and across cancer networks.13 While the majority of patients are having their diagnoses confirmed by biopsy and are being treated by multi-disciplinary teams, there are still a significant number who are not receiving the support needed

Health and Safety Statistics Annual Report for Great Britain 2013/2014

The publication released on October 29, 2014 – Health and Safety Statistics Annual Report for Great Britain 2013/2014 – included key statistics revealing the devastating impact asbestos exposures are having on the health of British citizens: 2,535 mesothelioma deaths due to past asbestos exposures occurred in 2012; more than half of all occupational lung cancer deaths are caused by mesothelioma and asbestos-related lung cancer; 2,145 new cases of mesothelioma were assessed for Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit in 2013 compared with 2,125 in 2012.14

Launch of New Trade Union Asbestos Campaign

On January 19, 2015 the Unite trade union uploaded resources on the asbestos hazard to raise awareness and prevent dangerous exposures to materials within the UK’s built environment. Trade unionists who have been exposed to asbestos are asked to register with the union to protect their rights should they at some point develop an asbestos-related disease. In the press release announcing the campaign, Unite said: “Raising awareness about how to safely handle this killer substance is equally important. That is why our campaign is also about prevention… to help ensure that employers protect their employees from exposure to asbestos at work.”15

Future Events

International Mesothelioma Interest Group Conference 2016

On November 5, 2015, the Parliamentary Asbestos Sub-Group was informed that the UK had won the bid to host the 2016 meeting of the International Mesothelioma Interest Group (IMIG), a premier organization for researchers, clinicians and scientist working on mesothelioma issues. The IMIG conference will take place in Birmingham in the Spring of 2016.16

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1 Bianchi C., Bianchi T. Global Mesothelioma Epidemic: Trend and Features. Indian Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, Vol 18, No 2. May-August 2014.
http://www.ijoem.com/showBackIssue.asp?issn=0019-5278;year=2014;volume=18;issue=2;month=May-August

2 Warburton N. Banging the health and safety drum. January 12, 2015.
http://www.shponline.co.uk/banging-health-safety-drum/

3 Tony Whitston (for and on behalf of the Asbestos Victims Support Groups Forum UK) v. Secretary of State for Justice and Association of British Insurers.
http://www.asbestosforum.org.uk/amendedgrounds.pdf
Judgment of October 2, 2014 by Mr. Justice William Davis in the case of Tony Whitston (for and on behalf of the Asbestos Victims Support Groups Forum UK) v. Secretary of State for Justice and Association of British Insurers.
http://www.leighday.co.uk/LeighDay/media/LeighDay/documents/Asbestos/JR-Judgment-2-Oct-2014.pdf?ext=.pdf
Also see: Kazan-Allen L. Challenging the Government’s Secret Deal on Mesothelioma. British Asbestos Newsletter, Issue 95, Summer 2014.
http://www.britishasbestosnewsletter.org/ban95.htm

4 Patridge S. “Experience: I planned to kill my father.” January 16, 2015.
http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2015/jan/16/i-planned-to-kill-my-father

5 Robin Howie Associates. Email: robinhowieassociates@btconnect.com

6 Principal Lawyer, PI Serious Injury Group, Pannone, part of Slater & Gordon.Email: Patrick.Walsh@pannone.co.uk

7 Secretary to Derbyshire Community Branch, GMB; President of Derby Area Trades Council.Email: morgri99@hotmail.com

8 Department for Work and Pensions Press Release. 32 million of compensation available for victims of asbestos related cancer. November 28, 2014.
https://www.gov.uk/government/news/32-million-of-compensation-available-for-victims-of-asbestos-related-cancer

9 House of Commons Written Statement by The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Justice, Minister for the Courts and Legal Aid (Mr Shailesh Vara). December 8, 2014.
https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/383971/mesothelioma-wms.pdf

10 Ministry of Justice and Lord Edward Faulks QC. New support for industrial disease victims. December 8, 2014.
https://www.gov.uk/government/news/new-support-for-industrial-disease-victims

11 Heneghan v Manchester Dry Docks and others. December 11, 2014.
http://www.bailii.org/ew/cases/EWHC/QB/2014/4190.htm

12 Churchill C. Plans for NHS to Recoup Asbestos Costs. January 9, 2015.
http://www.heraldscotland.com/news/health/plans-for-nhs-to-recoup-asbestos-costs.115767926
Also see:
McMillan S. Consultation begins on new Asbestos Law that will Recover Millions for NHS Scotland. January 12, 2015.
http://stuartmcmillanmsp.blogspot.co.uk/2015/01/consultation-begins-on-new-asbestos-law.html

13 National Lung Cancer Audit Report 2014 Mesothelioma 2008 - 2012.
http://www.hscic.gov.uk/media/15038/Mesothelioma-audit/pdf/EMBARGOEDTO120914_NLCA_Meso_Report_final.pdf

14 HSE Statistics e-Bulletin. October, 2014.
http://content.govdelivery.com/accounts/UKHSE/bulletins/d76aec

15 Unite. Campaign on Asbestos Awareness. January 19, 2015.
http://www.unitetheunion.org/unite-at-work/informationresources/healthsafetyresources/asbestos/

16 Official IMIG Announcement
http://ibasecretariat.org/imig_2016_announcement.pdf

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Compiled by Laurie Kazan-Allen
©Jerome Consultants