Asbestosis and pleural thickening among railway workers

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Most people are now aware of the deadly dangers of asbestos. But unfortunately, for the thousands of former railway workers who worked in the rail industry in the 1950s and 1960s, they were not warned about the risks to their health or even given the opportunity to protect themselves.

As a result, many people who worked on trains, in railway yards and railway repair shops were exposed to asbestos dust and fibres and have gone on to develop severe asbestos-related diseases.

While there is growing awareness of mesothelioma, terminal cancer caused by asbestos exposure, thanks to awareness campaigns from excellent charities and support groups, such as Mesothelioma UK, many ex-railway workers do not realise that asbestosis and pleural thickening are just as serious and can even be fatal.

What is asbestosis?

Asbestosis is a serious lung condition where your lungs are scarred from breathing in relatively high levels of asbestos, usually at work. It is a type of pulmonary fibrosis (which means scarring of the lungs).

Symptoms of asbestosis include:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Persistent cough
  • Wheezing
  • Tiredness
  • Pain in your chest or shoulder
  • Swollen or ‘clubbed’ fingertips

There is no cure for asbestosis once it has developed. Unfortunately, it is not possible to reverse the damage to the lungs, but some of the symptoms can be managed with physiotherapy or oxygen therapy.

People with asbestosis have a higher risk of developing other serious conditions such as asbestos-related cancers, like mesothelioma and lung cancer.

Smokers are particularly at risk, so it is important to stop smoking as it can worsen the symptoms and increase the chances of lung cancer developing.

In total, 905 asbestosis cases were recorded in 2019 in the UK. Rates of death from asbestosis have been falling for people under 65 but sadly, asbestosis deaths are on the increase for people aged 75 years and over, with 490 deaths recorded in the UK in 2019.

What is pleural thickening?

Pleural Thickening is another asbestos-related disease that can happen after exposure to low levels of asbestos over a long period of time.  It is a benign (non-cancerous) disease that progresses slowly. It can cause severe breathlessness, particularly when you are doing any kind of physical activity.

It can be an extremely debilitating condition. Some people with pleural thickening struggle with simple tasks, like getting dressed, and needing to stop and rest, while others have difficulty walking around the supermarket due to their breathing difficulties. As a result, it can have a severe impact on the quality of your day to day life, although it has little or no impact on your life span.

Can railway workers claim for asbestosis or pleural thickening?

Many former railway workers do not realise that they can make an asbestos compensation claim if they are diagnosed with asbestosis or pleural thickening. And they may be eligible for compensation even if the asbestos exposure was more than 30 years ago and they can’t remember exactly how they were exposed.

Our specialist team of asbestos disease solicitors have years of experience helping former railway workers and other people from different industries work out where they may have been exposed to asbestos and then holding those responsible to account.

We can also help family members who have been exposed to asbestos dust and fibres carried home on workers’ clothing, hair, skin, and work tools. This is called secondary asbestos exposure and our asbestos solicitors have had success securing compensation for those affected because they have hugged loved ones when they have come home or washed their work clothes.

Compensation for asbestosis and pleural thickening can be sizable due to the significant impact on your quality of life, so it is worth speaking to a solicitor specialising in asbestos disease claims. You may also be entitled to a particular type of benefit from the UK Government, and your solicitor can advise you about this, even if you don’t immediately know where you may have been exposed to asbestos.

Contact Novum Law’s asbestos lawyers

If you have been diagnosed with asbestosis, pleural thickening or any other asbestos-related disease, our team of expert asbestos solicitors can help. Contact us today on 0800 884 0777, email or complete our online enquiry form.

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