Latest Health and Safety Executive figures reveal 6% increase in asbestos cancer deaths

  • Posted

The number of people who died of mesothelioma, a cancer linked to asbestos exposure, has increased by 6% according to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE)’s latest report for Great Britain.

The mesothelioma report reveals there were 2,544 asbestos cancer deaths in 2020. There were 459 female deaths recorded, a rise of 7% compared with 2019 and higher than the average of 416 deaths per year over the previous 8 years. The HSE has stressed these figures are in line with predictions, and that mesothelioma deaths in men are expected to start falling from 2020 onwards. However, are expected to stay at around the same level throughout the 2020s.

Latest mesothelioma death numbers

The government report reveals the devastating legacy of asbestos, a material that was used extensively in many industries including construction, shipbuilding and the railways. Men who worked in construction including carpenters, plumbers and electricians remain the group with the highest level of mesothelioma deaths. Roughly 46% of mesothelioma cases in men born in the 1940s were from asbestos exposure during construction work. 17% of asbestos deaths were caused by carpentry work alone.

  • Around two-thirds of asbestos cancer deaths were in people aged 75 and over. This percentage continues to increase, and deaths among the under 65s are falling.
  • England, in particular the North East, has the highest mesothelioma death rate out of the three British nations. This is followed by Scotland, although mesothelioma death rates in Wales have risen to a similar level to Scotland over the past decade.
  • There were 1,910 new applications for Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit (IIDB) in 2020, roughly similar to 2019. 280 of the applicants were women, compared to 240 in 2019.

The report also considered the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, stating that this may have caused deaths among existing mesothelioma patients who would not have died in 2020 had they not caught COVID.

Compensation for asbestos victims

Specialist asbestos and mesothelioma lawyer Phillip Gower from our Cardiff team says:

“This latest HSE mesothelioma report makes for upsetting reading. It was hoped that there would be a drop in mesothelioma deaths but sadly, there is an increase in the numbers of men and women dying from this dreadful asbestos-related disease.

”It’s sad to see that mesothelioma deaths among women are expected to stay at around their current levels with 400-500 female deaths per year during the 2020s. Female asbestos victims are often overlooked as historically women didn’t work in traditional industries. However, we are seeing more women coming forward who have been exposed to asbestos indirectly by working in schools, hospitals, shops and office buildings.

“The increase in the numbers of women being diagnosed with mesothelioma is a major concern, particularly as a recent study found that women are less likely to come forward and ask for legal advice. We want to make sure that female mesothelioma patients still have a chance to claim compensation, and Novum Law has a strong track record of tracing even the most minor historical exposures. We urge anyone who has been diagnosed with an asbestos disease to get in contact with an expert asbestos solicitor as soon as they can.”

Novum Law’s team of specialist lawyers 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, asbestos-related lung cancer, asbestosis or pleural thickening we may be able to help you on a ‘No Win, No Fee’ basis. Call us FREE on 0800 884 0777, email us at or complete our online form for a free, no-obligation chat.

Online Now
Hi! A real person is available 24/7 at no obligation.
Live Chat is secure free and easy. Start whenever you are ready.
To use this Chat window, first you need to accept our Cookie Policy; we use analytics and third-party cookies to give you the best possible experience on our website.
Are you happy to give your consent?
Live Chat Start Now

To use this Chat, first you need to accept our Cookie Policy; we use analytics and third-party cookies to give you the best possible experience on our website.
Are you happy to give your consent?

Chat invite