Asbestos News July 2017
Somerset coroner Tony Williams said it was impossible to tell when or where Mr McInerney's exposure to the asbestos would have occurred
A former builder from Yeovil who died of asbestos contamination may have inhaled lethal fibres decades before fatal cancer developed.
Michael McInerney, 77, who lived in Sunningdale Lodge Care Home in the town, and was originally from Chard, had been diagnosed with mesothelioma - A cancer associated with asbestos contamination.
He was admitted to Yeovil Hospital on June 26 for palliative care as his condition was incurable.
Somerset coroner Tony Williams said it was impossible to tell when or where Mr McInerney's exposure to the asbestos would have occurred.
He said the fibres could lie in the lungs for many years from a much earlier time - "decades" before they triggered the disease.
He recorded the cause of death as malignant mesothelioma and concluded it was death by industrial disease.
Barroerock Construction Limited has been fined after repeated asbestos failings.
Canterbury Crown Court heard yesterday how the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) carried out two investigations of working practices of the site in 2013 and 2014 while Barroerock were converting into flats a former nine storey office building in Ashford, Kent, which was known to contain asbestos.
The first investigation arose from a routine inspection during one of HSE's refurbishment campaigns. The Court was told that while a refurbishment and demolition (R&D) survey had been carried out the company had failed to act upon it. This resulted in up to 40 workers being exposed to asbestos during the early demolition phase of the project.
The second investigation culminated in a visit to the site in June 2014 following complaints being made about the health and safety practices at the site. It was found that despite engaging a licensed asbestos contractor to remove the remaining asbestos materials, dangerous practices were continuing. In addition the company was unable to provide documentation to show that asbestos materials identified in the survey had been correctly removed. When the work on site was halted for the second time about 160 people were working inside the building.
It was found in both HSE investigations that these incidents could have been prevented if Barroerock ensured they had effective management controls in place to avoid the risk of exposure to asbestos.
Barroerock Construction Limited of Langley House Park Road, East Finchley, London, who had pleaded guilty to two offences of breaching Regulation 22 (1) (a) of the Construction Design and Management Regulations 2007 at an earlier hearing, has been fined £750,000 and ordered to pay costs of £14,874.68.
Speaking after the hearing HSE inspector Melvyn Stancliffe said: "The company's failings in this case has put many workers at risk to the exposure of asbestos.
"It was clear there was an endemic failure to effectively manage the construction work on the site in a way which ensured that asbestos materials were not disturbed until removed under appropriate conditions. Failing to prevent the breathing in of asbestos fibres on the site is reckless."
The Armed Forces Covenant recognises that the nation has a moral obligation to service personnel and their families
Last autumn, The Independent highlighted a loophole which left armed forces veterans who had developed cancer as a result of exposure to asbestos unable to obtain proper compensation.
The Mesothelioma Act 2014, which provides for lump-sum payments to civilians who contract the disease, was not applicable to veterans. Because the time between diagnosis and death is usually no more than a year or two, this meant that affected ex-servicemen and women – who could apply only for war pension relief – were likely to receive about £150,000 less than civilian victims.
Shortly before Christmas, the Government bowed to pressure and confirmed that former forces personnel would be eligible for full compensation as a lump sum; but the policy would apply only to those diagnosed after 16 December.
In time, there may be at least 2,500 applicable cases, but the decision left in limbo about 60 veterans already living with mesothelioma. This loophole has also, thankfully, now been closed. It is a reminder of the vital role that the media, alongside campaign groups such as the Royal British Legion, can play in raising the profile of social injustice.
Most crucially, the Government’s decision will offer a degree of relief to those who have already fallen victim to this particularly aggressive cancer. Receiving proper compensation will enable them to live the remainder of their lives in greater comfort and help their families to plan for the future.
The Armed Forces Covenant recognises that the nation has a moral obligation to service personnel and their families. Acknowledgement that this imperative should also drive government policy towards those who were placed in the way of deadly asbestos is welcome. But what a tragedy that it will come too late for some.
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