Britain’s long industrial history of asbestos exposure, asbestosis disease and mesothelioma cancer continues to affect many thousands of ordinary men and women in 2014. Over the years, charitable trusts, such as Mesothelioma UK and independent regulator, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) continue to raise asbestos awareness of both past, present and future risk.

In addition, they can provide a voice for those workers who continue to suffer as a result of employer negligence, lack of proper safety information or personal protection at their workplace. Whenever the issue of mesothelioma compensation is raised in legal / insurance consultations or proposed legislation, it is the victims and their experience, which should never be forgotten.

Disappointment, anger and concern have all been expressed over the recent third reading of the Mesothelioma Bill due to shortly come into force, which limits payment amounts and restricts eligibility, and seen as a “done deal” to appease the insurance industry in order to hasten its passage into law.

Feelings of guilt

It was, therefore, of particular note that the BBC 1 ‘Sunday Politics’ programme featured a husband and wife, Ray and Mavis Nye, speaking about their own tragic experience of asbestos exposure in the light of the recent Mesothelioma Bill.

Ray expressed his feelings of guilt caused by his wife being diagnosed with mesothelioma in 2009 as a result of “secondary exposure” from washing his asbestos-contaminated clothing he brought home after working with the material during his employment at a shipyard.

During the peak use years until the 1970s and 80s, asbestos fibres were a common material used to produce insulating linings for ship’s boilers, lagging pipes and electrical systems. It was common practice for workmen to return home with asbestos contaminated overalls, clothes, boots and even hair for their wives or daughters to wash.

Frustration voiced

Mavis voiced her frustration that mesothelioma suffers are unable to stop the Mesothelioma Bill, pointing to her own circumstances and asking what will happen to people like her suffering with “secondary exposure” and not mentioned at all in the new legislation.

Summing up her thoughts, Mavis called for government backing on research, adding “We need 100 per cent compensation as you get when you know the firm involved and can take a claim to court. That would be nice, but would never have been agreed. The 80 per cent amendment failed. That’s when we learnt a deal had already been done with the insurance companies before it ever went to the Houses of Parliament. They only agreed to the scheme if it was 75 per cent.”

For many mesothelioma victims and asbestosis sufferers, the Mesothelioma Bill falls woefully short of expectation of justice and the hope that they and their spouse may obtain financial security in the time they have left.

According to Cancer Research UK, 2,543 people in the UK were diagnosed with mesothelioma in 2010, and 2,310 deaths from mesothelioma recorded in 2011. The World Health Organisation have reported that more than 107, 000 people die each year from asbestos-related diseases caused by occupational exposure.