On World Cancer Day, Thursday 4 February 2016, leading trade union law firm Thompsons Solicitors is reminding workers across the UK of the deadly effects of asbestos-related cancer, mesothelioma.

More than 2,500 people are diagnosed with mesothelioma every year, but symptoms can take up to 40 years to develop.

Ian McFall, head of asbestos litigation at Thompsons Solicitors said: “Asbestos disease remains the biggest killer in UK workplaces. Mesothelioma is a fatal form of cancer and yet here in the UK, asbestos containing materials remain present hidden in many factories, schools and office buildings.

“Despite being finally banned from use in the 1990s, asbestos continues to represent one of the main public health threats in the UK to this day. We have not yet seen the peak of asbestos-related cancer deaths.

“For that reason we continue campaigning to raise awareness of asbestos disease and call for stringent measures to promote swift and safe removal of asbestos from our working environments and schools.”

CASE STUDY: Terminally ill plumber awarded six-figure compensation for mesothelioma

A retired plumber has received a six-figure sum of compensation after developing the fatal asbestos-related disease, mesothelioma.

Eddie Heap, who is 78 years old, began working in 1955 as an apprentice plumber for a national retailer until 1959. He was responsible for the maintenance of pipes and heating systems, many of which were heavily lagged with asbestos insulation. He often worked in poorly ventilated areas, with asbestos contaminating his clothes.

The father-of-two also spent 12 months working as a plumber for a car manufacturer in the early 1960s where he would manually strip asbestos lagging from boilers and heating pipes.

He was never provided with protective equipment or warned about the danger of asbestos during his employment.
He began to suffer from shortness of breath and was referred to a chest specialist by his GP.

His condition deteriorated so much so that he was rushed to hospital where he had one and a half litres of fluid drained from his lung.

Further tests were carried out on Eddie, and a biopsy confirmed that he had developed the incurable lung cancer, mesothelioma.

The debilitating effect of the disease means that Eddie now struggles to walk any distance, and is not physically able to carry out hobbies he had previously enjoyed such as fishing and model engineering.

After his diagnosis, his daughter contacted asbestos disease specialists, Thompsons Solicitors, who carried out an investigation into his work history to identify when and where Eddie was exposed to asbestos. Within four months of being instructed by the Heap family, Thompsons had secured a six-figure sum of compensation for Eddie.

Eddie’s daughter, Alex, said: “Words cannot explain how shocked and upset we were when dad was diagnosed with mesothelioma. Unfortunately, we were all too aware of this horrific disease as my dad had already lost his brother-in-law to it.

“Mesothelioma has taken away all of dad’s independence, he can’t do the things that he used to, which is so upsetting to see.

“My family is so grateful to Thompsons Solicitors who worked with us at a time when we were really in a state of disbelief. Our solicitor ensured that the legal process was quick and stress-free so that we could concentrate on supporting dad.”

Oliver Collett, senior industrial disease solicitor at Thompsons Solicitors in Leeds, said: “Eddie could have first been exposed to asbestos more than 60 years ago, which goes to show just how long it can take for this disease to manifest.

“At Thompsons, we understand how important it is to act quickly and work hard when an individual suffering from an asbestos-related disease comes to us. Asbestos claims are notoriously complex and, together with statements from Eddie, we were able to pinpoint exactly when and where his exposure took place, meaning that we settled the case and held his negligent employers to account within four months of working with the family.”