Experts in asbestos-related diseases at law firm Irwin Mitchell have called for significant improvements in the way asbestos is monitored, managed and handled after new statistics published by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) revealed there more than 5,000 deaths from asbestos-related diseases in 2013.
The report indicated 2,538 mesothelioma deaths, and a similar number of lung cancer deaths caused by exposure to asbestos in the workplace in the UK in 2013.
Their call follows an inquest into the death of Redditch man David Wolfe.
It found that Mr Wolfe, aged 78, was exposed to asbestos during his working life as a result of which he developed mesothelioma, a cancer found in either the tissue covering the lungs or in the lining of the stomach.
In later years Mr Wolfe’s health deteriorated and he died at home on October 19, 2015. An inquest into his death returned a verdict of death as a result of industrial disease.
According to the HSE, the latest projections suggest there will be around 2,500 deaths per year from mesothelioma for the rest of this decade before annual numbers begin to decline.
Alida Coates, a Partner and expert asbestos-related disease lawyer at Irwin Mitchell’s Birmingham office, said:
“The HSE has been working hard in recent years to reduce the number of people being exposed to asbestos in the workplace.
Sadly though, many of the cases of mesothelioma currently being recorded were exposed to asbestos decades ago and are just now beginning to see the impact on their health.
Many older buildings, including hospitals and schools, still contain asbestos and, while the risk is relatively low if the material is not disturbed, the consequences can be devastating for those who inhale the fibres when they are released into the air.
Employers have a duty to protect their workers and we hope that everything possible will be done to prevent any further unnecessary deaths.”