In October 2009, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) released figures on asbestos diseases, including asbestosis and mesthelioma. Revealing a high number of sufferers currently pursuing asbestos compensation, should by now have silenced some press naysayers who downplay the problem.

The statistics coincided with The “Asbestos: Hidden Killer” campaign, launched in November to raise asbestos awareness and highlight the problems with all forms of asbestos products. It also informed workers of when they could be working with asbestos and what they should do to protect themselves.

Around 20 tradesmen die from asbestos-related diseases each week and the numbers are increasing. Exposure to asbestos is the single biggest cause of work-related deaths. Around 4,000 people a year die due to asbestos-related disease, which is more than the number of deaths on the road each year.

The number of deaths will continue to rise as a result of the long latency period of asbestos-related disease, which means tradesmen and workers, who only within the last three years began suffering asbestosis symptoms, were actually exposed to asbestos as far back as 50 years ago!

Asbestosis

• In 2007, there were 96 deaths where asbestosis was listed as being the underlying cause on the death certificate.
• In 2007, a total of 380 death certificates included asbestosis.

Meosthelioma

• In 1968, the number of deaths due to mesothelioma was 153. In 2007 this had risen to 2156.
• The number of male deaths due to mesothelioma is expected to increase further and peak around the year 2016.

The most common occupations for men who died due to mesothelioma are plumbers, electricians, joiners, carpenters, heating and ventilation engineers and electrical fitters.

Asbestos-related lung cancer

• It is thought likely that there are as many deaths caused by asbestos related lung cancer as there are due to mesothelioma each year.

Diffuse pleural thickening

• In 2008, 400 new cases of disablement, caused by pleural thickening, were registered.