Leading asbestos disease specialists Thompsons Solicitors’ have commented on Health and Safety Executive (HSE) statistics which have found Barking and Dagenham to have the highest ratio of female mesothelioma deaths to its population.

The report, which analysed 45,527 male and 8,054 female deaths as a result of mesothelioma between 1981 and 2015, found that 82 women in Barking and Dagenham had died from the asbestos disease. The figures make grim reading and mean that Barking and Dagenham is the top hot-spot for female mesothelioma deaths in the UK.

"More than 2,500 people receive the horrendous diagnosis each year that they have developed mesothelioma, leaving the individuals and their loved ones trying to comprehend how and why it happened. The disease is commonly associated with men - especially those who worked in heavy industry - but as these statistics show, women are also susceptible to developing it."

Lorna Webster
head of Thompsons Solicitors' South East region specialist asbestos team.

Mesothelioma is a fatal form of cancer caused by exposure to asbestos and normally takes several decades to develop. While many contract it through manual jobs such as factory work, shipbuilding and engineering, it can also be found in those who have worked in less industrious work places such as schools, hospitals and offices. Some victims have contracted mesothelioma second-hand, as a result of handling and washing the contaminated work clothes of those who directly worked with asbestos.

Sunderland, Newham, Leeds and Barrow-in-Furness also topped the list of geographical areas with the highest rates for female mesothelioma deaths, with the latter also recording the highest SMR geographically for men who have died as a result of mesothelioma.

Lorna Webster is the head of Thompsons Solicitors' South East region specialist asbestos team and is based in the firm’s Dagenham office. Lorna has supported asbestos victims and their families in Barking and Dagenham, as well as across Essex, for nearly 20 years. She says: “More than 2,500 people receive the horrendous diagnosis each year that they have developed mesothelioma, leaving the individuals and their loved ones trying to comprehend how and why it happened. The disease is commonly associated with men - especially those who worked in heavy industry - but as these statistics show, women are also susceptible to developing it.

“Nationally, many women will have contracted the disease through hand washing the dusty overalls of men that worked with asbestos, but the high proportion of deaths in Barking and Dagenham could also be attributed to the above average amount of women that historically worked in industrial workplaces in the area for large local companies such as Cape Asbestos and Tate & Lyle.

Many thousands of men worked for companies such as the Central Electricity Generating Board at power stations in the area, as well as at the Ford factories in Dagenham and Basildon and at British Rail depots throughout Essex. Not only were these men exposed to asbestos but they were unknowingly bringing the fibres home and their families were being exposed as a result.

“Our specialist asbestos solicitors are proud to support men and women that have developed this life-changing disease, providing expert mesothelioma legal advice to secure compensation and putting them in touch with support groups that can help them through such a traumatic period of their life.”

Thompsons Solicitors has an unrivalled experience in securing significant compensation for those who have sadly developed an asbestos-related disease, from mesothelioma and pleural thickening, to asbestosis and asbestos-related lung cancer. The firm was also successful in bringing the first ever asbestos disease claim for compensation in the UK to the House of Lords in 1972 – a clear demonstration of the firm’s impeccable knowledge of winning asbestos disease claims. Our dedicated and passionate asbestos case lawyers cannot change history but will fight for justice for victims of asbestos diseases and do all they can to raise awareness for future generations. Our Lorna Webster is ideally placed locally in Essex to help asbestos disease victims.