Women and asbestos exposure at work

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While many women diagnosed with mesothelioma have experienced secondary asbestos exposure (e.g. washing a family member’s work clothes contaminated with asbestos), lots of female mesothelioma patients have been exposed to asbestos at work.

We tend to think of asbestos affecting male-dominated occupations, such as construction and shipbuilding. Although workers in these trades are at a higher risk, the tragic fact is that potentially deadly asbestos is present in many buildings, and these include the places where women work.

Despite the fact that it is over 20 years since the UK banned the manufacture and use of all asbestos, public buildings including schools, libraries, offices and hospitals that were built or refurbished before 1999, may still contain asbestos. And there is a risk that in these older buildings, the asbestos is in a deteriorating condition as it ages, and could be harmful to health.

According to a recent report, there are six million tonnes of asbestos in the UK, most of which can be found in over 1.5 million buildings across the public sector, including hospitals and schools.

The report outlines how asbestos remains a serious threat to health, especially in public buildings, with an estimated 94% of hospitals and 80% of schools containing asbestos.   With women representing a large proportion of the working population in these public and private buildings, they are proportionately more exposed to dangerous asbestos dust and fibres.

In fact, the report states that since 1980, there have been nearly 300 recorded deaths of teachers from mesothelioma. It references a study that found teachers are five times more likely to contract mesothelioma, and nurses are three times more likely, due to asbestos in their places of work.

Raising awareness of asbestos

At Novum Law, we have supported many women who have been diagnosed with mesothelioma after being exposed to asbestos while working in schools, banks, hospitals and public buildings. Often these older buildings have ceiling panels, insulation boards and pipes made from asbestos.

Specialist asbestos disease lawyer Phillip Gower says:

“From speaking to our female clients with mesothelioma it’s clear they were just not aware of the risks to their health due to asbestos exposure in their place of work.  Many of them did not even know there was asbestos in the building and so were not able to identify how they were exposed until Novum Law investigated their mesothelioma claim.

“This puts women at a disadvantage, which could cost them their lives. It is vital we raise awareness of the deadly asbestos legacy in our schools and public buildings and ensure women know the risks and are aware that any exposure to asbestos can cause an incurable cancer.”

If you would like to learn more about making a mesothelioma claim, call us on Freephone 0800 884 0777, email info@novumlaw.com or fill out our online enquiry form for a free, no-obligation chat.

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