Claims For Asbestos-Related Illnesses

What Is Abestos?

Asbestos is a fibrous silicate material that resists heat. This last property gives it many different industrial uses. However, people who are exposed to asbestos, risk developing long-term illnesses. Protecting your health while working with asbestos requires proper precautionary measures.

Asbestos exposure cases usually centre around the workplace as most people who suffer asbestos-related illness are exposed to it at while carrying out their duties as an employee. This is one of the reasons that such employers need to make employee health and safety paramount. Safety measures apply to employees who work in a single location (e.g. a factory) as well as those who travel to various sites where asbestos can be found.

Common professions that may involve asbestos exposure include:

Engineers

Mechanics

Electricians

Construction Workers

Plasterers

Employer Liability in Asbestos Cases

Keeping employees safe from health hazards in the workplace is an obligation, imposed by law on all employers. They should provide employees with the proper equipment and training and ensure that the work environment is a safe place. In most asbestos-related illness cases, exposure to the material is due to an employers’ failure to carry out such safety measures. Asbestos related illnesses can have severe long-term consequences, adversely affecting a person’s ability to continue working or to live a fulfilling life.

Part of an employers’ duty of care is to regularly assess the risks within the workplace. They are required to identify, mitigate, and where possible eliminate hazards. Risk assessment protocols should be shared with employees so that they understand the risks involved and know what actions they need to take to protect themselves and others.

Common Asbestos Illnesses include;

* Lung Cancer

Lung cancer is often linked to direct asbestos exposure. In unsafe work environments, employees who inhale or swallow small particles of asbestos, risk developing lung cancer. Exposure in this fashion is extremely dangerous so much so, that even individuals who live with workers who are exposed to asbestos, may be at risk. This is because the material can be brought into the home on a worker’s clothes, skin, or hair.

* Pleural Thickening

Pleural thickening is the development of extensive scar tissue on the lining of the lungs, the pleura. Pleural thickening may contribute to the development of other lung diseases. By itself, pleural thickening can cause shortness of breath and make it difficult to breath. Individuals with pleural thickening may experience discomfort or pain while breathing.

* Mesothelioma

Mesothelioma is a form of cancer that affects the mesothelial tissue. Asbestos exposure is the only known cause of mesothelioma. This cancer can affect the lungs, heart, and abdominal organs.

* Asbestosis Scarring

These scars generally appear on the lungs and chest and are caused by the inhalation of asbestos fibres in large quantities. Asbestosis scarring typically takes place where workers have been handling asbestos without the proper protective equipment.

What Causes Asbestos Injuries

* Improper or Missing Protective Equipment

Lack of protective equipment is cited in most asbestos-related personal injury claims. All employees should be supplied with effective personal protective equipment (PPE) that allows them to carry out their work safely. PPE for asbestos handling includes complete body protective coverage, footwear, gloves, and hats. It also includes facial protection, glasses and masks. Missing or ineffective equipment may expose workers to asbestos through the skin or through inhalation, both of which can cause injury and illness.

* Insufficient Training

Employees that lack appropriate training are more likely be exposed to hazards. Employees should be trained in carrying out their work safely and if an accident or exposure to asbestos occurs, they should know what to do. Proper training and guidelines give employees confidence in both themselves and their work colleagues in the event of an accident or incident.

* Lack of Control Measures

Businesses that use asbestos in any capacity, should implement control measures that reduce the risk of over-exposure to the material. They should also have preventative measures in place to minimise the chances of workplace accidents. The control measures need to be fully understood by both employers and employees.

Asbestos and The Statute of Limitations (Time Limit in which to take Legal Action)

In most workplace injury cases, the injured party has two years from the date knowledge of the accident to make a claim. Knowledge of the accident is usually immediate and therefor the Statute of Limitations starts to run from the date of the accident. Asbestos-related cases however are treated differently due to the long time-frame over which illnesses can develop.

Individuals who suffer an asbestos-related illness may not realise they have been exposed to the material for many years. For this reason, the two-year time limit in which to take an action, is applied somewhat differently. Individuals injured by asbestos exposure have two years from the date of their knowledge of diagnosis to issue proceedings.

Recognising The Common Symptoms Of Asbestosis

Asbestosis is a form of “pulmonary fibrosis” which is caused by exposure to asbestos and manifests in the lungs. It is linked to excessive connective tissue found inside the lungs. In many cases, the symptoms only start appearing around 20 years (between a range of 10 to 40 years) after the person was exposed to asbestos. The common symptoms linked to asbestosis include:

Dry and persistent cough

Shortness of breath

Nail deformities

Appetite loss

Chest pain

Enlarged fingertips (finger clubbing)

Asbestosis is a type of fibrosis that is caused by asbestos fibres. As time goes by, scar tissue starts to replace the normal tissues in the lungs. The excess scar tissue results in decreased pulmonary function.

When a person is exposed to asbestos, they inhale asbestos fibres, which can lodge inside the tissues in the lungs. The fibres have a straight and sharp shape, which makes it hard for the body to naturally expel or dislodge. Once lodged in the tissues over a period of time, these fibres cause scarring, inflammation, and irritation, which results in symptoms that are mainly linked to the lungs. 

What Causes Asbestosis Symptoms?

Fibrosis or lung scarring causes shortness of breath and coughing symptoms that are more commonly linked with asbestosis.

As the lungs become inflamed and scarred over the years, the lungs ability to exchange carbon dioxide and oxygen reduces, which results in decreased lung function along with fatigue. As the disease progresses, the heart and the lungs cannot carry out their basic functions and this often leads to serious heart and/or lung failure.

Pleural thickening causes shortness of breath. This is when the lung lining starts to thicken as a direct result of the presence of asbestos fibres in the lungs. Pleural effusion takes place when fluid builds up between the lungs and the chest wall. The effusion and thickening constrict how the lungs move and at a later stage, this also affects the heart function. In the advanced stages, the heart and the lungs are no longer able to contract or expand properly, which results in more fluid build-up. This further incapacitates breathing.

Asbestosis can stop the lungs from oxygenating the blood fully, which makes the heart work a lot harder. When the heart starts to work harder, the patients’ blood pressure also starts to increase. Once the blood pressure is raised, fluids start to build-up around the lungs and heart. This often results in swelling around the areas of the face and neck and can make swallowing very difficult.

Fluids may also start to accumulate inside the abdomen, which creates tenderness or bloating which can result in weight loss and loss-of-appetite. In the advanced cases, fluid retention in the body when left untreated can cause serious complications.

If you or someone you know has been exposed to asbestos, it is important to see a GP and have the appropriate tests carried out. Should you have any questions about taking legal action due to exposure to asbestos, Joseph McNally Personal Injury Solicitors to discuss the matter will evaluate the circumstances of the accident and explain your options to you’