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Home » Latest News » In What Occupations Might You Have been Exposed to Asbestos at Work?

In What Occupations Might You Have been Exposed to Asbestos at Work?

In What Occupations Might You Have been Exposed to Asbestos at Work?

In the main, asbestos exposure sufficient to cause asbestos illness, years down the line, is most likely to have occurred in the workplace and as far as those being diagnosed now or recently are concerned, the exposure will have taken place in the 1950s, 60s, 70s or 80s.

The specialist asbestos and mesothelioma team at Bridge McFarland solicitors take new instructions from asbestos disease compensation clients on an almost daily basis. There may be some people reading this and scratching their heads at the thought. After all, the use and importing of asbestos is banned over in the UK isn’t it? Indeed, the two deadliest types of asbestos were banned in 1985 and white asbestos banned in 1999. However, when someone is exposed to deadly asbestos fibres, it hangs around in the affected persons lungs lying dormant for many years- as many as 40 or 50 in some cases - before showing itself in the form of symptoms that become diagnosed as one of the asbestos diseases. Mesothelioma, asbestos lung cancer or pleural thickening are the main ones and certainly the illnesses that lead asbestos disease compensation claims being made.

In the main, asbestos exposure sufficient to cause asbestos illness, years down the line, is most likely to have occurred in the workplace and as far as those being diagnosed now or recently are concerned, the exposure will have taken place in the 1950s, 60s, 70s or 80s.

Just what were the industries and occupations that commonly saw workers exposed to asbestos on a regular basis?

To understand the type of industries that used asbestos as a material, it’s necessary first to have an understanding as to what use industry put asbestos. Asbestos used to be known as the ‘miracle mineral.’ This was because it was impossible to set on fire, there was a seemingly endless supply of it, it was cheap to mine and it was easily turned into a wide variety of heat resistant products.

Asbestos was very good at doing what it was supposed to and as such was used for example, for lagging on hot water pipes, steam pipes and to insulate boilers. Laggers and boiler workers would often be working in confined and poorly ventilated spaces, particularly for instance if working on a ship. Those types of conditions were rife for asbestos exposure. It was not only those directly working with asbestos who were at risk. So too work colleagues working nearby, such as carpenters, sheet metal workers and general labourers.

Asbestos is a danger when it is worked on – cut, drilled or sawn – because that is how asbestos dust or particles get into the air and are then breathed in by the people working with it. A worker who was regularly exposed to asbestos dust and particles had a high possibility of going on to get an asbestos disease many years later. Hence the reason that so many people are now being diagnosed with asbestos lung cancer, mesothelioma or pleural thickening and are coming to expert asbestos disease solicitors like the asbestos team at Bridge McFarland to make compensation claims on a No Win, No Fee basis. (and we don’t even charge our clients a success fee in most cases).

Below is a list of industries and industries and occupations where workers were at risk. It does not include every possible industry or occupation where someone may have been exposed to moderate or heavy asbestos exposure;

  • British Rail Engineering workers
  • Shipbuilding/Shipyard workers
  • Manufacturing industry
  • Power station workers
  • Demolition
  • Car mechanics/ Vehicle and coach body repair
  • Sheet metal workers
  • Mechanical engineers
  • Painters
  • Joiners and carpenters
  • Shipwrights, metal plate workers and riveters
  • Electrical, energy and boiler related plant workers
  • Maintenance fitters
  • Plumbing, heating and ventilation engineers
  • Firefighters
  • Farmworkers
  • Hospital workers
  • Teaching
  • Blacksmith
  • Glass factories
  • Laggers

The highest risk exposure industries are generally considered to have been;

  • Shipyards
  • Railway Engineering
  • Construction
  • Power Stations

That being said, whenever asbestos fibres are breathed in, there is a danger. Equally there is no set amount of exposure to asbestos that is certain to lead to someone getting an asbestos disease in later life just as there is no exclusive list of occupations where you may or may not have been exposed to asbestos. A news article on the BBC website recently advised that military staff who worked on Sea King helicopters had been advised that they might have been exposed to asbestos that was in aircraft parts which contained asbestos. The Ministry of Justice faces the task of getting in touch with staff who worked on the Sea Kings since the aircraft came into service 50 years ago, to advise them of the actions they should take to find out if they have been affected by asbestos exposure.

Bridge McFarland’s asbestos disease experts at our Hull and Grimsby offices have recently been receiving a large number of enquiries and requests to act on behalf of former trawlermen and deckhands who worked on ships out of Grimsby and who are suffering breathing and respiratory problems, or have already been diagnosed with an asbestos condition, as a result of being exposed to asbestos on trawler ships.

The workers on the trawlers were exposed to asbestos on lagged pipes in the accommodation quarters, engine rooms and boiler rooms and the trawler men and deckhands had to engage in throwing asbestos dust off the vessel once contractors had completed maintenance onboard whilst were docked. Asbestos was also found on brake drums on the winches on deck. The conditions were cramped. None of the workers were provided with breathing protection so as a result of the ships vibration and dependent upon prevailing weather conditions the men were often breathing the asbestos dust in directly.

This is an example of a high-risk occupation that is not widely known about nationally, because it is specific to certain geographical locations such as Hull, Grimsby and the surrounding North Sea coastline areas. Bridge McFarland’s expert asbestos team, with their local knowledge of the trawler industry and how it came to be that former trawler workers became exposed to asbestos on trawler boats, are best placed to assist those former trawlermen now suffering respiratory problems, whether they have yet been diagnosed with an asbestos illness or not.

If you (or a loved one) worked in any industry where you were exposed to asbestos dust and fibres regularly during your working hours, and if you are suffering from breathing or other respiratory difficulties, you should not hesitate to contact James Burrell or Leanne Keating from Bridge McFarland solicitors in Hull. Not only are Leanne and James experts in the field of asbestos disease compensation claims, they are empathetic lawyers who care deeply about their clients. Both regularly visit their asbestos disease compensation clients at their own homes to take instructions on their cases. Call James or Leanne on 01482 730326 or email enquiries@bmcf.co.uk