It is estimated that 5,000 workers die each year from an asbestos related-illness. This equates to about 20 tradespeople a week, and is more than the number of people killed on the roads. However, it is those that work in the construction industry who could be affected the most.

Asbestos in construction

Asbestos on construction sites continues to be a problem. Those who particularly worked in buildings built before the year 2000 when asbestos was used on construction sites, could be at a greater risk of having been exposed to asbestos.

Refurbishing buildings and properties, or carrying out maintenance work during shutdowns could also place workers at risk. Professions such as joiners, plumbers, electricians, roof contractors, plasterers, general construction workers, architects and surveyors are commonly associated with having a higher risk of contracting an asbestos-related disease as they are likely to be working with materials that are contaminated with asbestos.

Why was asbestos used in construction?

construction workers in white overalls lifting up a roof that's contaminated with asbestos.

Asbestos was widely used in construction before it was banned in the UK in 1999. It was mainly used to insulate buildings and as a fireproofing material, but because of its strength, it was also added to concrete, vinyl materials in the roof, pipes, wall boards, floor boards, and adhesives.

Is asbestos still used in construction?

While asbestos is no longer used in construction, it’s still present on construction sites and continues to have a devastating impact on workers today.

Workers who unwittingly disturb or damage materials that contain asbestos will have inadvertently released asbestos fibres into the air. Such activities could involve manually cutting or drilling asbestos insulation boards (AIB); breaking or smashing asbestos cement or lagging; using power tools to drill or screw through most asbestos materials. It is when these fibres are inhaled that workers are at an increased risk of developing a serious asbestos-related condition.

It can take anywhere between 20 and 60 years following exposure to asbestos before symptoms develop and a diagnosis is made.

What effects has asbestos in construction had on workers?

Although asbestos was banned in construction, and the rest of the UK, twenty years ago, its effects continue to be a problem in the present. Workers who were exposed to asbestos anywhere between 20 to 60 years ago are now experiencing symptoms such as shortness of breath, chest tightness, persistent coughing and weight loss, as a result of their exposure. These workers are now being diagnosed with diseases like mesothelioma, asbestos-related lung cancer, asbestosis and pleural thickening. Presently, there is no cure for these conditions either, which means families everywhere are being affected.

How is Thompsons supporting workers who have been affected by exposure to asbestos in construction?

If you, or someone you know, have been diagnosed with an asbestos-related disease as a result of exposure to asbestos when working on a construction site, get in touch. Our specialist solicitors can offer independent, expert advice that can make all the difference when seeking to trace those responsible for exposing workers to asbestos. Thompsons was responsible for winning the first-ever successful asbestos disease litigation case in 1972 – helping to pave the way for families to secure redress and compensation ever since.

If you’d like free, no-obligation advice please contact our senior asbestos lawyer in the North West, Louise Larkin, on 0151 224 1644. Louise is based in the Liverpool office and has dealt with asbestos-related claims on behalf of the victims and their families for over 25 years. Alongside her team of expert colleagues, Louise’s team resolutely pursue compensation claims against employers and insurance companies for clients who suffer from mesothelioma, asbestos-related lung cancer, asbestosis and pleural thickening securing millions of pounds in damages on their behalf each year.

More information

If you choose to work with us, Thompsons Solicitors will support you through every step of your asbestos compensation claim, providing expert legal advice as well as access to a network of support services and medical professionals. For more information on how Thompsons can support your claim, visit our asbestos diseases page. Alternatively, please telephone to request an asbestos booklet.

This article was originally published in the Wirral Globe on 11 July 2018.