Asbestos & Occupational Disease FAQs

We have answered our most frequently asked questions below. If you don’t find the information you need please feel free to get in touch and one of our Asbestos & Occupational Disease experts will get back to you as soon as we can.

  • A wide range of occupations, notably shipbuilding, railway engineering and asbestos product manufacture, are associated with an increased risk.

    Family members of people whose work clothes were contaminated with asbestos fibres are also at risk, as well as individuals exposed as children or teachers in schools. The condition is significantly more common in men, with a male to female ratio of 5:1.

  • Employers have a general duty to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the health and safety at work of all employees, and other people that could be affected by their activities, under the Health and Safety at Work, etc Act 1974.

    Under the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 2002 (COSHH) (as amended) work that may expose employees to any hazardous substances including pesticides should not be undertaken unless a suitable and sufficient assessment of the risks created by that work has been carried out.

    These regulations also require employers to:

    • Use a non-hazardous substance instead of a dangerous pesticide if possible, or find an alternative method of control.
    • Carry out a COSHH risk assessment on the pesticide and its intended use, if there is no viable alternative.
    • Appoint a suitable person to carry out the risk assessment and advise on the prevention and control of exposure.
    • Choose the pesticide that poses the lowest risk.
    • Put in place control measures to prevent or, where this is not reasonably practicable, adequately control the exposure of employees to substances hazardous to health.
    • Take all reasonable steps to ensure that control measures are properly used or applied.
    • Ensure that control measures are maintained in an efficient state, in efficient working order, in good repair and in a clean condition.
    • Adequately monitor, where relevant, any exposure to substances hazardous to health.
    • Put in place a health surveillance procedure where appropriate.
    • Provide employees who are liable to exposure to a hazardous substance with suitable and sufficient information, instruction and training.
    • Put in place accident, incident and emergency procedures to protect employers from an incident involving hazardous substances involving a pesticide, eg personal contamination and spillages.

    Under the Control of Pesticides Regulations 1986 (as amended in 1997), users of pesticides should be satisfied that the pesticide selected does not present undue risk to animals and the environment. Persons using a pesticide approved for agricultural use must have a certificate of competence.

    Under EC Regulation 1107/2009 only authorised plant protection products can be advertised, sold, supplied, stored and used. This is implemented by the Plant Protection Products Regulations 2011, Plant Protection Products Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2011 (as amended) and Plant Protection Products (Fees and Charges) Regulations 2011 (as amended).

    Under the Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 2013, certain work-related incidents involving pesticides have to be reported to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) or local authority. These include fatal injury, acute illness or loss of consciousness resulting from absorption of a substance and cases of phosphorus poisonings diagnosed by a doctor.

  • There's currently no cure for asbestosis once it has developed, however there are some treatments that can help relieve symptoms and make day to day living easier. Treatments and therapy can include: pulmonary rehabilitation – a programme of exercise sessions, discussion and advice to help you manage your symptoms; or oxygen therapy – breathing in oxygen-rich air from a machine or tank to help improve breathlessness if your blood oxygen levels are low.

  • CRPS can be difficult to diagnose as there is no single diagnostic test and no cure currently exists.

    Rheumatologists will sometimes classify CRPS into two types based on whether there is objective evidence of damage to a major nerve. The more common is type 1 where there is no objective nerve damage. The less common is type 2 where there is evidence of nerve damage but the symptoms nevertheless are out of proportion to the extent of damage.

  • Yes, you can. Your solicitor will talk to you about your work history and look at each of your employers in turn, the tasks you were undertaking and the environment you worked in. Our team has the experience to ask questions that are likely to draw out those parts of your work history that could have involved working with asbestos and will then investigate those companies.

    Sometimes your solicitor may involve a consultant engineer who has experience of industry working conditions at the time of your work. Your solicitor will take a detailed statement from you and will leave no stone unturned. Even if there is no civil claim, there could well be a claim for state benefit which your solicitor can help you with.

  • Yes, you can. If you know the company name we can trace a policy of insurance and restore the company in order to make your claim.

    There is a government archive of historic insurance policies that we will search against. If there turns out not to be insurance, or the insurer no longer exists, then we can still make a claim against a fund of last resort. This is known as a Mesothelioma Scheme case.

  • The use of asbestos was banned in the UK in 1999 however asbestos is still present in buildings, for example in old floor or ceiling tiles, insulation and pipes.

  • There is a 3 year time limit for making a claim for asbestos illness, work-related cancer and industrial disease. The 3 years run from the time you first noticed symptoms.

    In the case of asbestos illness, work-related asthma and some work-related cancers, there is usually a delay of many years from the time you were exposed to the danger to the time when symptoms first appeared. The 3 year limit runs from the time the symptoms first appeared.

    If a doctor diagnoses you with a work-related illness, normally the 3 year period will start to run from the time of the consultation or shortly beforehand when you first sought medical attention for the problem.

  • Pesticides are biologically active chemicals used in the prevention and control of pest outbreaks in farm land, park land and in buildings. Pests may be animals, plants, fungi or micro-organisms. All pesticides must be approved for use.

  • Pleural plaques rarely cause symptoms and most people are unaware that they have pleural plaques until they are advised of this by a radiologist following routine x-ray. Pleural plaques are caused by asbestos exposure and are lesions or scars on the inside of the lungs. They usually appear after 20 years or more of asbestos exposure. Pleural plaques can become more extensive, but they never progress into mesothelioma or lung cancer.

    Please note that it is not possible to obtain compensation or other welfare payments for pleural plaques in England and Wales as the plaques themselves cause no symptoms. You can read more about pleural plaques for health care professionals here.

  • An international conference was held in Budapest in 2003 with a view to clarifying the diagnostic criteria as follows:

    (A-D must apply; ‘sign’ is where the medical practitioner can see or feel a problem; ‘symptom’ is where the patient reports a problem.)

    A) The patient has continuing pain which is disproportionate to any inciting event.

    B) The patient has at least one sign in two or more of the categories.

    C) The patient reports at least one symptom in three or more of the categories.

    D) No other diagnosis can better explain the signs and symptoms.

    1. ‘Sensory’ – allodynia (to light touch and/or temperature sensation and/or deep somatic pressure and/or joint movement) and/or hyperalgesia (to pinprick).

    2. ‘Vasomotor’ – temperature asymmetry and/or skin colour changes and/or skin colour asymmetry. The medical practitioner must notice a temperature asymmetry of > 1°C.

    3. ‘Sudomotor/oedema’ – oedema and/or sweating changes and/or sweating asymmetry.

    4. ‘Motor/trophic’ – decreased range of motion and/or motor dysfunction (weakness, tremor, dystonia) and/or trophic changes (hair/nail/skin).

  • An international conference was held in Budapest in 2003 with a view to clarifying the diagnostic criteria as follows:

    (A-D must apply; ‘sign’ is where the medical practitioner can see or feel a problem; ‘symptom’ is where the patient reports a problem.)

    A) The patient has continuing pain which is disproportionate to any inciting event.

    B) The patient has at least one sign in two or more of the categories.

    C) The patient reports at least one symptom in three or more of the categories.

    D) No other diagnosis can better explain the signs and symptoms.

    1. ‘Sensory’ – allodynia (to light touch and/or temperature sensation and/or deep somatic pressure and/or joint movement) and/or hyperalgesia (to pinprick).

    2. ‘Vasomotor’ – temperature asymmetry and/or skin colour changes and/or skin colour asymmetry. The medical practitioner must notice a temperature asymmetry of > 1°C.

    3. ‘Sudomotor/oedema’ – oedema and/or sweating changes and/or sweating asymmetry.

    4. ‘Motor/trophic’ – decreased range of motion and/or motor dysfunction (weakness, tremor, dystonia) and/or trophic changes (hair/nail/skin).

  • Symptoms of asbestosis may include: shortness of breath; a persistent cough; wheezing; extreme tiredness, or pain in your chest or shoulder. In more advanced cases, individuals may suffer from clubbed (swollen) fingertips. If you have any of the symptoms above and think you may have been exposed to asbestos, you should see your GP urgently. Your GP will listen to your lungs and ask about your work history. They may refer you to a specialist in lung diseases for more tests if asbestosis is suspected. Tests may include: a chest X-ray; a CT scan of the lungs, and lung function tests to see how well your lungs are working.

  • If you are suffering from asthma, you may experience: breathlessness or you may struggle for breath; a tight chest; wheezing or gasping; painful coughing or a productive cough, or light headedness.

  • Often the sufferer will complain of altered sensitivity to temperature and the limb may feel hot – when examined with heat sensitive cameras it will be hot compared with the rest of the body. The limb can look different in colour and texture to other limbs that are not affected.

    Often the affected limb can also feel different to unaffected limbs, for example an individual complaining of CRPS in the hand may complain of feeling clumsy and of the sensation of not having full control of the limb: they may drop things including potentially dangerous things such as hot mugs or saucepans.

  • Most patients complain of chest pain, shortness of breath and fatigue. Many have pleural effusions (build-up of fluid in their lungs) evident on examination and x-ray. Tiredness, excessive sweating, persistent coughing, unusual weight loss or anorexia, pain or difficulty in swallowing and altered sense of taste can become common. The NHS recommend that anyone suffering from a persistent cough, lasting for more than 3 weeks, should get checked out by a doctor.

  • Mesothelioma is caused by asbestos exposure in over 90% of cases, whereas lung cancer can have a variety of causes, not only asbestos exposure.

    Even when someone has a history of working with asbestos it is not always possible to prove that the  lung cancer they developed was caused by asbestos, particularly if they have also smoked and if the history of asbestos exposure is relatively slight.

    If you have been diagnosed with lung cancer and you have asbestosis, pleural plaques or pleural thickening and/or a clear history of repeated asbestos exposure then it can be easier to prove a causative link between the cancer and prior asbestos exposure.

  • Asthma is caused by irritation of the breathing tubes that carry air in and out of the lungs. This irritation causes inflammation and swelling or narrowing of the airways. In some cases, sticky mucous can clog the airways.

    Some individuals are naturally prone to asthma attacks which can occur with or without exposure to a trigger; others only suffer from asthma after exposure to a trigger. An asthma attack can be frightening for the sufferer and anyone witnessing it.

  • Exposure to some harmful chemicals and substances, including UV radiation, can cause cancer. Cancer is caused when damage occurs to a cell’s DNA. Some chemicals and substances, including radiation, can damage the DNA and this can lead to cancer. Cancer-causing chemicals and substances are known as ‘carcinogens’.

    Substances are classified as ‘known to be carcinogenic to humans’, ‘probably carcinogenic to humans’ or ‘no evidence of carcinogenicity to humans’.

  • Symptoms that may be related to skin cancer can include:

    • A patch of scaly, hard skin;
    • A red lump/spot;
    • An ulcer;
    • A new mole;
    • A patch of skin that may either bleed, ooze or form a crust.
  • If you have been exposed to asbestos and have been diagnosed with mesothelioma, asbestos lung cancer, asbestosis or pleural thickening, you may be entitled to financial help.

  • To calculate the benefits you are entitled to, the government recommends the use of one of the following calculators:

    • entitledto – for information on income-related benefits, tax credits, contribution-based benefits, Council Tax Reduction, Carer’s Allowance, Universal Credit and how your benefits will be affected if you start work.
    • urn2us – for information on income-related benefits, tax credits, Council Tax Reduction, Carer’s Allowance, Universal Credit and how your benefits will be affected if you start work or change your working hours.
    • Policy in Practice – for information on income-related benefits, tax credits, contribution-based benefits, Council Tax Reduction, Carer’s Allowance, Universal Credit, how these are calculated and how your benefits will be affected if you start work or change your circumstances.
  • ‘No win, no fee’ simply means that Emsleys Solicitors will not make a charge unless we win your case. If we win, we will make a charge for your legal costs, however this will be paid by the losing party, in addition to your full compensation.

  • A civil claim is a claim for compensation made by the injured person against the person(s) at fault. Usually the person at fault will have insurance and effectively the insurer will pay any compensation.

    There are rules about how a claim must be made including time limits. These are the Civil Procedure Rules, also known as the CPR. The Civil Procedure Rules make up a procedural code whose overriding aim is to enable the courts to deal with cases justly. Amendments are made regularly and published on the government website: 

    https://www.justice.gov.uk/courts/procedure-rules.

    A legal claim for compensation must be started within 3 years of the date that you first knew you were suffering from a medical condition caused by your work.

    Sometimes claims are settled amicably but usually the insurer won’t pay unless court proceedings are issued. Court proceedings are issued when the correct forms are lodged at court, with the correct fee and within the prescribed time limit.

    Once court proceedings are issued the court issues a notice of issue and returns copies of the documents ‘dealed’ with the court stamp. These sealed proceedings must then be ‘served’ on the defendant or their representatives. Again there are strict time limits.

    The defendant will then serve a defence which may admit all of some of the claim, or may deny everything. After this, the court issues a timetable including a trial window. Both sides must comply with the court timetable.

    The Law Society Publish the following guide:

    http://www.lawsociety.org.uk/uploadedImages/site-images/General/infographic-injury-v2-735x1109.png

    It is possible to represent yourself, however the Law Society recommend that you instruct a specialist solicitor. This is unlikely to cost you anything as cases are nearly always run on a ‘no win, no fee’ basis unless they are small claims or Criminal Injuries Compensation Act claims.

  • There are two types of Court of Protection Deputy

    • A Personal and Financial Affairs Deputy – can pay bills and manage finances and bank accounts.
    • A Personal Welfare Deputy – if the protected party is over 16, a PWD can make decisions about care, medical treatment and accommodation.

    A deputy of an adult awarded more than £50,000 must manage the Court Funds Office account for them unless the Court agrees that a deputy is not needed. The duties can typically include making payments for rent, rates and carers.

    If there is disagreement about care between family members, it may be necessary to make a personal welfare application to the Court.

    A Deputy must make an annual statement to the Office of the Public Guardian listing and explaining all of the decisions made on behalf of the protected party.

  • A ‘litigation friend’ is a suitable person appointed by the court to represent a ‘protected party’. The litigation friend must act in the protected party’s best interests and can give instructions on the behalf of and make decisions for :

    • An adult who lacks mental capacity to conduct their own court case either with or without a solicitor
    • A child

    An adult or child with a litigation friend is called a ‘protected party’. If no suitable person comes forward, the Court can ask an Official Solicitor to step in.

    Typically a suitable person may be a parent or guardian, an adult child, another family member, a solicitor, a Court of Protection deputy, a professional advocate or an Independent Mental Capacity Advocate. If the protected party is awarded compensation, the court will need to approve the settlement.

    The litigation friend is responsible for filling in the correct forms and bringing them to the court approval hearing. If the protected party is a child, there will be an infant approval hearing and a certified copy of the child's birth certificate must also be lodged with the Court along with the correct court form.

  • A personal injury claim is a claim for compensation made by an individual who has been injured. The claim is made against the individual or organisation responsible for causing their injury.

    To win a personal injury claim, the injured person (referred to as ‘the claimant’) must prove that the party they hold responsible (known as ‘the defendant’) was either negligent and/or was in breach of statutory duty and that this negligence and/or breach of duty caused their injury.

  • An appointee can be an individual such as a relative of a person who lacks capacity to manage their own affairs, or it can be a solicitor or a charity. An appointee is responsible for:

    • Signing the benefit claim form
    • Informing the Benefit Office about changes in circumstances
    • Spending the benefit in the persons best interest
    • Declaring any overpayment

    To become an appointee contact the relevant helpline for the benefit in question eg Attendance Allowance Helpline; Disability Benefits Helpline; Pension Centre; PIP New Claims Line, or Jobcentre Plus.

  • The term ‘occupational illness’ normally refers to a permanent or temporary disabling condition that is caused directly or indirectly by a person's employment. The terms ‘occupational illness’ and ‘industrial disease’ are often used interchangeably but generally mean the same thing. An occupational illness claim is a type of personal injury claim, but the illness is not usually caused by a single accident.

  • Asbestos is a naturally occurring group of minerals that has been used since ancient times for its heat resistant properties. During the 20th century asbestos was mined on vast scales and used to insulate buildings, hot pipes, boilers of all kinds (such as domestic, industrial, steam engine and shipping boilers), in addition to numerous other uses. Asbestos fibres provide heatproof properties when used in compound materials, woven into mats or compressed into board, or simply used on its own and mixed into a paste or cement like material.

    Asbestolux board for example was a type of insulation board that, as the name suggests, contained asbestos. Many products in common use in the building, shipbuilding and construction industry in the 20th century contained asbestos in varying quantities.

  • Asbestosis is a lung condition caused by moderate exposure to asbestos dust over a long period of time, typically over several years.

    However, it is important to know that asbestosis can also be caused by relatively heavy exposure to asbestos dust (for example mixing lagging paste) over a period of weeks or months.

    When the dust is breathed in, the asbestos fibres can get lodged in the lungs and can gradually damage them over time.

    Asbestosis was regularly suffered by workers in the asbestos industry itself, dock workers, building or construction workers, workers spraying asbestos paint and demolition workers – particularly in the 1970s-90s. Anyone today who works with old buildings or plant and may disturb or damage asbestos should also be aware of the risk of breathing in dust.

    Asbestos was gradually phased out of new usage until it was finally banned in 1999.

  • Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS) is a term used to describe a collection of symptoms where pain in a limb (usually a single limb) is the major problem.

    Sometimes a link can be made to an accident or trauma to the limb, but for a significant proportion of sufferers no such link can be made. There is only usually a civil claim to be made if the accident or trauma was caused because of the negligence or breach of duty of a third party, but for which the injury would probably never have happened. For example, it is known that CRPS can arise as a complication of surgery or from a fracture or injury that was not caused by the fault of a third party. 

    Usually following an injury or trauma such as a fracture, the limb will start to heal and the pain lessens with time and treatment. However in a minority of cases CRPS develops and the sufferer will not improve as expected but will continue to experience pain and often other symptoms at the site of the injury. Sometimes the site of the pain spreads throughout the surrounding tissue area or even to other limbs.

    Often sufferers feel frustrated and unhappy that they are not believed because their injury is not improving in response to normal treatment and pain killers, as their medical experts have advised it would and should. CRPS is difficult to diagnose and often the process of diagnosis involved systematically excluding all other possible causes of the pain and symptoms.

    Insurers and Defendants are usually sceptical and fight CRPS cases hard.

  • Under section 10 of the Crown Proceedings Act veterans negligently exposed to asbestos before 1987 who then went on to develop asbestos illness were unable to make a claim against the Ministry of Defence (MOD).

    Veterans in this situation can make a claim for a no fault statutory lump sum payment or a war pension under the War Pensions Scheme and Armed Forces Compensation Scheme.

    There is a disparity in the amount of compensation that a veteran can expect to receive compared with a civilian exposed in similar circumstances. A veteran exposed on active service may receive £31,000 through the Government's War Pension Scheme, however the Government's Diffuse Mesothelioma Scheme pays a maximum of £180,000 lump sum to civilians upon diagnosis depending on the age of the applicant at diagnosis.

    In some circumstances veterans can also make a claim against a US Asbestos Trust if they were exposed to asbestos on board a ship and the ship was known to have docked in the US. This avenue is always worth exploring.

  • Malignant pleural mesothelioma is a type of cancer that occurs in the pleura – the mesothelium (membranous lining) surrounding the lungs.

    Over 90% of cases are linked to asbestos exposure. When asbestos fibres are inhaled or swallowed, they can cause scarring of the lung tissues, cancer of the bronchial tree (lung cancer) and sometimes cancers in the pleura and peritoneum.

  • In order to establish negligence and win compensation in a personal injury claim, the injured person (‘the claimant’) must prove that the party claimed to be at fault (‘the defendant’) owed them a duty of care and breached that duty by failing to meet the required standard of conduct. It must be proved that the alleged substandard (negligent) conduct was the cause of the injury and that the individual was actually injured. The extent of the injury and other losses, both in the past and in the future, must also be demonstrated.

    In order to establish this, the claimant will nearly always need written evidence from a medical expert to establish the fact of and cause of the injury, and also the extent of the injury. Your lawyer will commission and review this evidence and ensure it is presented correctly to support your claim or application.

    In occupational illness and industrial disease cases, the claimant will also usually need help from an expert engineer or occupational hygienist to establish the nature of the duty owed at the time of the alleged breach, the required standard of conduct expected from the defendant at the time of the alleged breach (which can be many years ago in a disease case) and the likely extent of the alleged breach.

    It is the job of the lawyer to obtain these expert reports from the best experts available and present them to the court.

  • Pleural thickening is extensive scarring of the lung walls sufficient enough to thicken the lung walls and restrict lung function. It can cause symptoms and, as with mesothelioma, asbestos lung cancer and asbestosis, it is possible to claim compensation from former employers. Pleural thickening occurs after prolonged exposure to asbestos fibres and usually after a period of 10-20 years or more.

    Diffuse pleural thickening is a definition given where the thickening of the lung walls is at least 5mm in one or more places. Diffuse pleural thickening can be unilateral (one lung only) or bilateral (both lungs).

  • Skin cancer is common type of cancer which may be caused by an individual’s occupation. Those exposed to ultraviolet light (when working outdoors), ultraviolet light from sunbeds (if operating equipment), chemicals (for example, coal tar, pitch and unrefined mineral oils), and ionising radiation (from radioactive substances or X-rays) may have an increased risk of developing skin cancer.

  • The Court of Protection is a specialist division of the High Court which exists solely to protect the best interests of vulnerable people who cannot make decisions for themselves because they lack capacity.

    The Court will decide whether a person has capacity to make decisions for themselves and in coming to a decision will rely on expert medical and other evidence.

    When an individual is found to lack the capacity to make a decision, within the meaning of the Mental Capacity Act 2005, it can become necessary for those involved with their care (such as the local authority, NHS Trust and/or family member) to take important and far reaching decisions on that person's behalf. These decisions should always be made in that person’s best interests. It is not always clear what an individual’s best interest is, and those involved with their care (such as the local authority, NHS Trust and family members) may not always agree about this. When disputes arise or the right decision is not straightforward, the Court of Protection will get involved.

    Where the individual lacks capacity, a Power Of Attorney is not enough to enable others to make decisions for them, so the Court of Protection will become involved.

    The Court of Protection will safeguard financial, health and welfare matters for the person lacking capacity (the protected party) and may resolve any disputes between family members and/or carers should they arise in relation to the protected party's care.

    Examples of practical powers of the Court of Protection are:

    • The Court of Protection may appoint deputies to take decisions on the protected party's behalf and make sure that the deputy acts correctly and in the best interest of the protected party.
    • The Court of Protection may remove deputies.
    • The Court of Protection may decide on the validity of a Lasting Power of Attorney or Enduring Power of Attorney.
    • The Court of Protection may resolve disputes regarding Lasting Power of Attorney or Enduring Power of Attorney deeds.
    • If someone is badly injured so that they lack capacity as a result of an accident or disease and a personal injury claim arises, the injured party may not have capacity to appoint a solicitor or make decisions about their case. Where this situation arises the solicitor will often advise the family or carer of the injured person to ask the Court of Protection to appoint a deputy to make those decisions on the behalf of the injured person.
  • Mesothelioma develops on the mesothelium, the lining of the cavity that encases the internal organs including the lungs, whereas lung cancer is a tumour within the lung itself. The symptoms and treatment can often be similar.

  • Universal Credit is a regular payment (paid monthly, or twice a month for some people in Scotland) designed to help with living costs. It is available for those who are unemployed or receiving a low income. An individual’s ability to claim Universal Credit depends on where they live and their circumstances.

    If an individual already receives benefits, Universal Credit will replace the following (as they cannot claim both at the same time):

    • Child Tax Credit
    • Housing Benefit
    • Income Support
    • Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA)
    • Income-related Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)
    • Working Tax Credit
  • There are strict regulations governing the use of harmful chemicals and substances, particularly in the workplace. The main legislations protecting employees are COSHH (Control of Substances Hazardous to Health) and the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974. Employers should be aware of known carcinogens and HSE guidelines.

  • If you are pregnant and work with hazardous chemicals or materials it is important that you inform your employer as soon as possible about your pregnancy. The early stages of pregnancy are known to be vital for your baby's development.

    Various research studies have documented adverse pregnancy outcomes where employees have worked with certain substances in the first trimester of pregnancy, but which apparently cause no ill effects (or the causal link between exposure and harm is less certain) in the general workforce; for example workers in the electronics industry who have been exposed to photolithography processes or certain solvents.

    A US study reported elevated risks for spontaneous abortion among workers in the semiconductor fabrication processes, especially masking and photolithography and use of ethylene glycol ether and fluoride-containing compounds.

  • There is no standard treatment pathway for malignant pleural mesothelioma in England and Wales. A patient may receive a combination of treatments from different medical disciplines. The NHS and NICE (National Institute for Clinical Excellence) publish guidelines for cancer diagnosis and treatment pathways, specific to the type of cancer involved. There is a dedicated Mesothelioma Framework, just as there is for Lung Cancer, Skin Cancer, Bowel Cancer etc.

    Treatments for mesothelioma (and lung cancer) may include draining excess fluid from the pleural cavity and applying a talc pleurodesis (the insertion of talc to bind the lung wall to the mesothelium aimed to prevent further fluid accumulation in this cavity), palliative radiotherapy, analgesics (pain killers), steroids, appetite stimulants and bronchodilators. Subject to the staging and condition of the patient, surgery may be offered.

    Pemetrexed in combination with cisplatin is the only chemotherapy regimen that is currently licensed and approved by NICE. However, a variety of combination and single-agent regimens such as the mitomycin C, vinblastine and cisplatin combination (MVP) or vinorelbine may be offered and have been demonstrated to be effective.

  • Common asthma triggers include: allergens, such as house dust mites, animal fur and pollens; other irritants, such as cigarette smoke, strong smells, gases; cold air; exercise, or chest infections.

    Asthma can be triggered for the first time in a workplace simply by repeatedly breathing in certain dusts, gases, fumes and vapours which can sensitise the lungs. Where someone has never suffered from asthma before, and develops a sensitivity caused by inhaling a trigger substance in the workplace, there is usually a delay sometimes of a couple of years between the first exposure to the trigger substance and the first asthma attack.

    If you already suffer from asthma or have done so in the past, breathing in certain dusts, gases, fumes and vapours can make your asthma worse or trigger an attack and there may not be a period of delay between the first exposure to the trigger substance and the first workplace asthma attack.

  • Research has shown that the average timescale between onset of symptoms and diagnosis is currently two years. The normal 3 year limitation period from the accident date within which a claim must be made will still apply however, and it is important to seek legal help from a solicitor experienced in dealing with CRPS cases as soon as possible.

    Expert diagnosis and early help from a specialist medical team is critical to reduce the long-term effects of this painful condition which can have a significant impact on an individual, affecting all areas of their life and that of their family and is classified as a serious injury.

    There is a good deal of current research into CRPS and advances in treatment are constantly being made. The National Centre of the Treatment of Rheumatic Diseases in Bath is at the forefront of this research.

  • People with mesothelioma are usually diagnosed between the ages of 60 and 79 years. However although this is the most common age range, a significant number of much younger and also much older people are also affected.

    Malignant pleural mesothelioma usually develops 20–50 years after exposure to asbestos. More than 2,000 cases were diagnosed each year between 2011 and 2015, reflecting a lag from the highest use of asbestos in the 1970s. An estimated 65,000 cases are expected to occur between 2002 and 2050.

  • There may be time limits for making a claim for compensation for work-related cancer. For this reason, we advise clients to get in touch with us as soon as possible after their diagnosis.

  • Exposure to certain chemicals and substances can increase an individual’s risk of developing lung cancer, including: arsenic; asbestos; beryllium; cadmium; coal and coke fumes; silica; nickel, and pesticides.

    There is a growing body of research making a link between exposure to large amounts of diesel fumes for a period of many years and an increase in an individual’s risk of developing lung cancer and other cancers including bladder cancer. Some studies estimate that this risk increases by up to 50%.

    One study has shown that your risk of developing lung cancer increases by about a third if you live in an area with high levels of nitrogen oxide gases (mostly produced by cars and other vehicles).

  • Research suggests that occupations with exposure to carcinogens are linked to higher than average rates of certain types of cancer, including skin cancer. Evidence suggests an increased risk of skin cancer from solar radiation, especially on the face and neck, where exposure is occupational for at least 10 years.

    Various areas of outdoor work are linked with an increased risk, including agriculture, construction and painting, manufacturing and mining, and service industries.

  • Some workers are more at risk of breathing in substances that may cause asthma or make it worse, including: bakers (flour dust); vehicle spray painters (paint fumes); soldiers (metal fumes); woodworkers (wood dust); healthcare workers (chemical fumes, latex); laboratory animal workers (chemical, acid fumes); agricultural workers (bird feather dust); engineering workers (petrol/diesel fumes, metal fumes, chemical fumes), or welders (metal fumes).

  • The property of asbestos that makes it so dangerous is the extremely small size of particles and fibres that it consists of. These tiny, sharp microscopic particles can easily be inhaled or swallowed and become lodged in the lungs. Over time these particles can irritate the lungs and cause scarring, thickening, fibrosis of the lung tissue or can trigger a malignant growth in the lining of the lungs. If someone has been exposed to asbestos and also smoked tobacco they are more at risk of developing an asbestos illness.

    Campaigns to ban asbestos exist all over the world. UK Asbestos continues to advise the government and regularly campaigns to raise public awareness of the dangers of asbestos, particularly in our schools, factories and public buildings.

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    Stand Out

    Growth and Business Development

  • Law Society Excellence Awards

    2015

    Shortlisted

    Client Service; Business Development

  • Modern Law Awards

    2014

    Winner

    Innovation of the Year

  • Modern Law Awards

    2014

    Shortlisted

    Client Care Initiative of the Year

View all awards