Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Asbestos Legal Update: London Regional Health & Safety Committee

Picture of Thompson's personal injury solicitor, Ann-Marie Christie, with London UNISON health and safety network members.

Yesterday lunchtime she gave an update to the Regional Health & Safety committee and branch officers network on the latest legal developments. 

The good news was that there was finally justice for many victims of the deadly asbestos cancer Mesothelioma following the recent ruling by the Supreme Court against 6 rogue insurance companies (the so called "trigger issue"). Who for the past 6 years had tried to get out of paying compensation by arguing that they should not pay out when the company they insured actually fatally exposed their workers to asbestos only when the cancerous symptoms developed. Since this was often decades later when the insurance policies were expired this of course would have meant that many of the 2,500 people per year who get Mesthelioma would receive nothing.

While this is indeed a victory (by the trade unions who funded the appeal) it is too late for all those who have died in the meanwhile since 2006.  Their families may now finally get recompense.

No such good news on the battle for Pleural Plaques compensation nor for a bureau to register the insurance policies for companies that have now gone bust. The TUC estimate that at least 5,000 people die every year from asbestos related conditions and that 1 in every 100 men born in the 1940's will also die prematurely from these conditions. The majority of asbestos imported into this country took place from 1955 to 1980.

The movie actor, Steve McQueen, died from Mesothelioma. Not because he was a racing driver who wore fire retardant overalls which contained asbestos, as I had read, but because he had worked in ship engine rooms and ship yards before he become famous. 

Update: I forgot to mention that I thanked Thompson's at the meeting for a £60k settlement they won for a member of my branch who suffered a nasty accident at work. Ann-Marie stressed the importance of taking pictures of the accident scene as soon as is possible.

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