What is Asbestos?

Asbestos 1

Despite this year having marked the 20th year since the Asbestos Prohibitions regulations was signed, there are still many cases of deaths that are caused by asbestos. Asbestos claims for compensation are still routinely made in the UK. This is because it can take years, even decades after exposure to asbestos for diseases to develop. Caused by the inhalation of asbestos fibres, these diseases are often incredibly unpleasant and can ultimately lead to a death.

What diseases are caused by asbestos?

Some asbestos related diseases include:

  • Asbestosis
  • Diffuse pleural thickening
  • Pleural plaques
  • Pleural effusion
  • Rounded atelectasis
  • Lung Cancer
  • Malignant Mesothelioma

Breathing in asbestos fibres can eventually lead to serious scarring of the lungs. Symptoms of asbestosis can include:

  • Shortness of breath
  • A pain in your chest or shoulder
  • Swollen fingers
  • Wheezing
  • A persistent cough
  • Extreme tiredness

If your GP suspects that someone may have developed asbestosis, they will refer them to a specialist for the following tests:

  • A CT scan of your lungs
  • A lung function test to check the capacity and correct functioning of your lungs
  • A chest X-Ray

There are some treatments that are known to help the condition of asbestosis and might be recommended if someone is found to have the condition. These treatments include:

  • Oxygen therapy, where you can breathe in oxygen-rich air from a tank
  • Pulmonary rehabilitation, a programme that is designed to teach exercises and ways in which someone can manage their condition

What job industries are most high risk?

If somebody has worked in a job that has exposed them to the asbestos particles for a long time, then they will likely be at a higher risk of developing some form of asbestos related health problem. You may be at a higher risk if you have worked as a:

  • Carpenter
  • Plumber
  • Electrician
  • Asbestos miner
  • Painter
  • Builder

If someone has worked in a role that involved shipbuilding, railway engineering or worked in a factory that made asbestos products then they will also have a higher risk. In very unfortunate cases, some people even develop the condition from living with a worker who has also been exposed to asbestos and carried the fibres home on their clothes.

Claiming compensation after the death of a loved one

Since a number of these asbestos-related diseases can lead to an early death, there are cases where family members canclaim asbestos compensation after death. The process for claiming for asbestos-related wrongful death is often complicated because it is harder to gather evidence. Pinpointing when and where exposure occurred is often crucial to the case, and this is more difficult without the victim to question. However, it is not impossible with the help of specialist and experienced lawyers.

Time limits for claiming compensation

There are two relevant time limits for claiming compensation, whether you are the victim of the asbestos disease, or a relative of a victim. A living asbestos victim has three years from the date of diagnosis (not exposure) to make a claim. Then, provided that the asbestos victim was still within that three-year time limit when they died, there is then a further three years from the date of the death that a loved one can make a claim in their name.


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