Often, news of the terrible legacy left by the 20th century’s most deadly material tends to centre on the lingering presence of asbestos in the UK, literally woven into the fabric of school buildings or discovered in the remains of former factory premises.

The frequent reporting in the press of long and contentious mesothelioma compensation cases, which argue the finer points of exposure periods and ultimate responsibility, continue to blight the lives of the unfortunate victims suffering mesothelioma who often do not survive to hear a final verdict.

The extent to which asbestos was totally integrated into the UK’s construction and manufacturing process is not to be underestimated. It was simply everywhere and there can be very few men and women working in the countless thousands of UK industrial workplaces who were not exposed to the deadly mineral. The fallout will continue well into the 21st century as cases of asbestos compensation are predicted to not peak for at least another forty years or more.

The staggering lack of asbestos awareness was mostly as a result of deliberately ignoring the mounting evidence of its link to asbestosis and related cancers. This inevitably, meant working men in the unlikeliest of professions, as well as practically all trades, were involved with manufacturing and working with asbestos and it’s many products for many years before the UK began to enforce a total ban towards the end of the 1970s and most of the 1980s.

Known to be largely found in shipyards, power plants, railway yards, chemical plants, steel mills, building construction and the telephone industry, there is simply not a single factory or production workplace which would not have contained some form of asbestos.

The following list gives an idea of just a few of the occupations where workers would most frequently come into contact with asbestos:

Asbestos textile mill – cloth weavers, product handlers : protective clothing and gloves.

Automobile manufacturing production- assembly workers, automobile mechanics, brake repairers: brake linings and clutch pads.

Building and Construction – engineers, building material products manufacturers, cement plant production and construction.

Demolition and wrecking crews : asbestos insulated buildings.

Dockyards – ship builders, fit out contractors, longshoremen, merchant seamen, Navy personnel, coast guards.

Electrical installation and maintenance – electricians, electrical and telephone maintenance : asbestos electrical insulation.

Insulation manufacturing plant workers, pipefitters, machinists, insulators, packing and gasket manufacturing plant workers, powerhouse workers.

Railroad workers, sheet metal workers, steamfitters, refinery workers, rubber workers, refractory products plant workers, and warehouse workers.