MoD admits widespread asbestos failings

December 18, 2019

Posted by: Hannah Swarbrick


The MoD has admitted widespread failings in the management of asbestos across its estate, as reported in The Guardian: MoD faces criticism as it admits widespread asbestos failings

In July 2018 it was revealed that thousands of staff could have come into contact with asbestos on Sea King helicopters over a period of nearly 40 years.  This led to a review of MoD facilities.

In a letter sent to the Unite union, and shared with the Guardian, the defence minister Annabel Goldie said:

“Regrettably, this work exposed failings beyond Sea King, and it is now clear that ACM (asbestos-containing materials) have not been properly identified and tracked across a range of equipment platforms.”

Asbestos was discovered at RAF Brize Norton in Oxfordshire, where two out of four hangars had to be closed.  Asbestos was also found at MoD Lyneham in Wiltshire, where three hangars had to be closed, and at the MoD vehicle and equipment storage site in Ashchurch, Gloucestershire.

Jim Kennedy, The Unite Union’s national officer for defence staff said that the MoD had:

“…finally admitted that their systems for monitoring and preventing exposure to asbestos are entirely inadequate.  As a result, thousands of civilian staff and members of the military have potentially been exposed to asbestos, which could have potentially fatal consequences for them.”

A MoD spokesperson said:

“The health and safety of our personnel is of the utmost importance and we are committed to providing a safe working environment.  This includes removing or replacing items containing asbestos where practicable, and ensuring people have the right information about potential exposure.”

The MoD is being urged to contact all personnel who may have come into contact with asbestos.

Mesothelioma

This announcement comes at a time when the annual death toll from asbestos exposure is at an historic high.  The most recent figures from the Health and Safety Executive show that in 2017 there were 2,523 deaths from mesothelioma.

Mesothelioma is a form of cancer caused by exposure to asbestos.

It mainly affects the lining of the lungs (pleural mesothelioma), although it can also affect the lining of the tummy (peritoneal mesothelioma), heart or testicles.

It’s rarely possible to cure mesothelioma, although treatment can help control the symptoms.

Compensation Claims

Where someone has been exposed to asbestos at work, this may give rise to a claim for financial compensation if they go on to develop mesothelioma.

The time limit for making a claim is three years from the date of diagnosis.  If you are looking to claim on behalf of a loved one who has sadly died because of mesothelioma, you’ll have three years to make a claim from the date of the death or from the point where a post-mortem revealed asbestos exposure as the cause of death.

Exposure to asbestos can also result in a number of other conditions, including asbestosis and pleural thickening, which can have a hugely detrimental impact on the sufferer’s quality of life.

If you think you or a loved one may have a claim then you can contact us free of charge and in confidence.

Hannah Swarbrick is a Senior Solicitor in the Military Claims team at Bolt Burdon Kemp.  If you think you or a loved one may have a claim, contact Hannah free of charge and in confidence on 020 7288 4851 or at HannahSwarbrick@boltburdonkemp.co.uk.  Alternatively, complete this form and one of the solicitors in the Military team will contact you.  Find out more about the team Military Claims team.

Posted by: Hannah Swarbrick

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