Increase in asbestos cancer cases among ‘white-collar’ workers

  • Posted

Concerns have been raised about the increasing numbers of asbestos cancer cases among ‘white-collar’ workers.

Traditionally, those being diagnosed with the asbestos cancer mesothelioma, and other asbestos-related diseases like asbestosis and pleural thickening, have been manual workers from heavy industries such as construction, shipbuilding, and the railways. But increasingly, people who have worked in hospitals, schools and office buildings are suffering from asbestos-related illnesses.

Exposure to asbestos in buildings

At Novum Law, our specialist asbestos disease lawyers have seen a noticeable rise in people contacting us who have worked in white-collar jobs, including professionals employed in hospitals, schools, office buildings and shops.

In particular, the latest Health and Safety Executive (HSE) statistics show that 459 women (who were more likely than men to work in these buildings) died in 2020 – a rise of 7%, which is above the eight-year average.

Sadly, former teachers, nurses, secretaries, and shop workers who have never directly worked with or handled asbestos might have unknowingly been exposed to deadly asbestos dust and fibres, especially if the asbestos was disturbed or damaged during building maintenance and repair, renovation works or shop refits.

Asbestos compensation for ‘indirect exposure’

 Senior Litigation Executive Alan Jolliffe from Novum Law’s Southampton team is an industrial disease specialist who has worked on a number of asbestos cancer claims involving professionals and white-collar workers. He says:

 “It goes without saying that we continue to help and support workers from traditional, heavy industries including shipbuilding and railways, but there are growing numbers of clients getting in touch for our help who have been indirectly exposed.

“Often, our clients are not exactly sure where or how they were exposed to asbestos. This can make the asbestos compensation process more complex, but we specialise in investigating work histories, sourcing additional witnesses such as former colleagues who can put the missing pieces of puzzle together so that we can establish what happened and why.”

Asbestos in public buildings – an ongoing issue

Worryingly, the HSE estimates that asbestos remains in over 300,000 public buildings to this day, with no official plan for its removal. This means that something as simple as a teacher pinning their students’ artwork to the walls of the classroom can have tragic consequences if asbestos is disturbed.

Earlier this year, the House of Commons work and pensions committee recommended that the Government should create a national asbestos database listing all affected buildings. However, the Government rejected the proposal saying there was no “compelling evidence” to support its active removal.

Alan Jolliffe continues:

“The Government’s ruling was extremely disappointing. Asbestos exposure causes significant harm and suffering, and countless people have lost their lives and families left bereaved, because of our country’s devastating asbestos legacy.

“Our advice to anyone who has been diagnosed with an asbestos-related disease is to speak to a specialist asbestos disease solicitor as soon as possible so they can help you track down who was responsible and ensure that if you are eligible for asbestos compensation, you get the justice you and your family deserve.”

Novum Law’s team of specialist legal experts are highly experienced in helping those affected by exposure to asbestos, even in the most difficult of cases. If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with an asbestos-related disease such as mesothelioma, we may be able to help you on a ‘No Win, No Fee’ basis. Call us on 0800 884 0777, email us at or complete our online form for a free, no-obligation chat.

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