The use of asbestos in the workplace throughout the 20th century continues to devastate lives across the UK. Around 2,500 people die from mesothelioma, which is an asbestos-related disease, each year, and there is no indication that the numbers are going to decrease anytime soon.

What industries used asbestos?

There are certain workers that were more at risk of coming across asbestos than others. An example is construction workers. We reveal the effects asbestos has had on workers in the construction industry here.

Asbestos was also widely used in school buildings, hospitals and offices, meaning that people working in these locations may also have been exposed to the dangerous substance at some point in their lives.

Who is most at risk of asbestos exposure?

Any worker who handled asbestos, or products made from asbestos, without adequate protection could have breathed in the asbestos fibres and face the risk of later developing an asbestos-related disease, such as mesothelioma. The highest risk was for laggers and labourers who often handled asbestos daily.

It can also affect those who didn’t work directly with asbestos. Thompsons Solicitors has supported a number of people who were exposed to asbestos second hand, either through washing the dusty clothes of colleagues and family members who had been exposed to asbestos, or working near asbestos regional teams.

The official statistics show who is most at risk of developing an asbestos-related disease, the image below details those industries most affected by asbestos, based on the number of mesothelioma deaths by profession between 2011 and 2018.

A bar graph of the industries most commonly affected by asbestos for men
A bar graph of the industries most commonly affected by asbestos for women

Asbestos, Past but Present

The use of asbestos in the workplace might be a thing of the past, but the impact that it has on families is more evident now than ever before. The historic presence of asbestos in various industries and workplaces is continuing to affect people, in some cases more than 40 years after they were exposed to the substance.

This is why Thompsons is highlighting the ongoing issues of asbestos with its #PastButPresent campaign. Employers and their insurance companies are trying to consign their track record of exposing workers – and those working near asbestos – to the history books, but for workers, communities and families who are affected, forgetting about asbestos is not an option.