Lab rats Some scientific hired guns try to hide their industry ties; others flaunt them. Either way cash-for-science can be very bad news for your health. Hazards follows the money.
Hazards special online report December 2013
Dust storm A UK conference of dust exposure experts is attracting unwanted attention, reports Hazards editor Rory O’Neill. Professor Ken Donaldson, the scientific chair of Inhaled Particles XI, has been identified in a potential asbestos cancer 'crime-fraud' controversy and accused of having undeclared links to the industry.
Hazards 123, July-September 2013
Moral fibre A Swiss billionaire and a Belgian baron have been sentenced to 16 years in prison after being found guilty of corporate manslaughter. After a stunningly successful grassroots campaign for justice, the former Eternit executives were convicted by an Italian court of causing the asbestos-related deaths of more than 3,000 people. Hazards 118, April-June 2012
ILO sounds the ‘death knell for asbestos’
A statement from a United Nations body confirming its desire to see the end of asbestos use worldwide is the ‘death knell’ for a substance which claims one life every five minutes around the clock, the global union confederation ITUC has said.
Hazards 'green jobs' blog, 23 September 2010
Canada increased its asbestos exports last year. Asia is a key target market. But the International Ban Asbestos Secretariat is not letting the deadly trade go unopposed. A Hazards photofile.
Hazards 109, January-March 2010
It’s not enough that the asbestos industry is using lies and spin to push is deadly product. Now it is resorting to threats and the courts to harass its critics.
Hazards 103, July-September 2008
The asbestos factories have shut, but the asbestos hasn’t gone away. A new HSE/TUC guide advises safety reps how to keep workplaces safe from asbestos – including clearing out when there is a serious risk.
Hazards 97, February 2007 [pdf]
ILO to promote global asbestos ban
The International Labour Office (ILO) is to pursue a global ban on asbestos, the world’s biggest ever industrial killer. The landmark decision came with the adoption of a resolution on 14 June 2006 at the ILO conference in Geneva and followed a high level union campaign. Hazards asked Jukka Takala, director of ILO’s SafeWork programme, what ILO will now do to help make the world asbestos-free.
Hazards interview, June 2006
Asbestos diseases kill thousands in the UK every year. But these are not just statistics, they are all stories of pain, hardship and bereavement.
Hazards 94, May 2006 [pdf]
Global asbestos plc blocked a deal that would have made it more difficult to unload asbestos on the developing world. It bought scientists and column inches in national papers. And it is killing hundreds of thousands each year. Hazards exposes the global asbestos industry's desperate battle for survival - at any price.
Hazards 85, January-March 2004
Don't mess with the unions
A global union campaign has seen James Hardie's rapid descent from darling of the stockmarket to company in crisis, facing protests and legal action on three continents. Hazards 88, October-December 2004
Joint Declaration from the International Building Trade Union Federations, made at the Global Asbestos Congress, Tokyo, November 2004.
Asbestos interests block global
Asbestos producer nations have blocked the addition of chrysotile (white) asbestos to the UN list of highly dangerous substances that cannot be exported to developing countries without their knowledge and agreement.
Hazards update, 18 September 2004
IBAS international listing of victim support groups
Committee to Ban Asbestos in America (CBAA) The Committee to Ban Asbestos in America (CBAA) was formed by public health advocates to ban asbestos and fund federal medical and educational programs in the United States.
Ban Asbestos Canada has produced a hard hitting brochure to be handed out at Workers' Memorial Day 2008 events. High Resolution versions of the brochure are available from the BAC website in Black and White [pdf] and Colour [pdf]
Britain: Campaigners press for asbestos justice
Asbestos disease campaigners, politicians and unions spoke out on 4 July to mark Action Mesothelioma Day, calling for urgent action to combat the deadly asbestos cancer. Deaths from mesothelioma, which is incurable and now kills in excess of 2,500 people a year, are still to peak in the UK, meaning tens of thousands more will die unless new treatments are found.
Action Mesothelioma Day events. Lord Alton’s speech. Thompsons Solicitors news release. Leigh Day news release. CWU news release. New Statesman. Morning Star • Risks 662 • 12 July 2014
Britain: Asbestos disease victims deserve better treatment
Unions are asking their members to sign an e-petition calling on the government to provide funding for research into treatments and cures for asbestos-related diseases. The online petition to the Department of Health notes: “The United Kingdom has the dubious honour of being number 1 in the world for the level of deaths occurring annually from asbestos-related diseases.”
Sign the e-petition. UCATT news release. CWU news release. British Lung Foundation • Risks 662 • 12 July 2014
Global: Journal will make asbestos scientist own up
The asbestos industry’s attempt to put a healthy gloss on is unhealthy products is continuing, but its favourite consultant is facing renewed flak after his undeclared links to the industry were exposed. Toxicologist David Bernstein has been paid vast sums by asbestos firms and industry groups to write papers supporting continued asbestos use, with these appearing in scientific journals – but has declared he has “no conflicts of interest.”
RightOnCanada.ca • David Bernstein. Health risks of chrysotile asbestos, Current Opinion in Pulmonary Medicine, volume 20, issue 4, pages 366-370, July 2014. Complaint to the journal • Background from Hazards and RightOnCanada on David Bernstein’s industry links • Risks 661 • 5 July 2014
Britain: M&S shopworker wins asbestos cancer case
A 53-year-old shopworker who was exposed to asbestos on the shop floor whilst working for Marks & Spencer, has won her case for cancer compensation in the High Court. Janice Allen worked in two M&S stores between 1978 and 1987, first in its flagship store on London's Oxford Street and then at its Uxbridge branch as a supervisor.
Leigh Day solicitors • The Guardian • Daily Mail • Risks 661 • 5 July 2014
Britain: Asbestos neighbour caused husband’s death
The widow of a man who lost his life to asbestos-related cancer has received a six-figure compensation settlement. In another case highlighting the potent killing power of asbestos, Lindsey Aherne, 63, received the payout after her husband, Denis, died of mesothelioma in 2012, the result of growing up near the Cape Asbestos factory in Barking, London.
Barking and Dagenham Post • Risks 661 • 5 July 2014
Britain: Education changes put staff and pupils at risk
Government-imposed changes to the education system have undermined the safety of staff and pupils, the union NASUWT has charged. The union was speaking out after a Health and Safety Executive (HSE) probe uncovered a criminal failure to deal properly with asbestos in more than 1 in 8 schools inspected.
NASUWT news release • Risks 661 • 5 July 2014
Britain: More than 1 in 8 non-LA schools illegal on asbestos
A criminal failure to deal properly with asbestos was found in more than 1 in 8 schools inspected in a Health and Safety Executive (HSE) probe. HSE’s latest asbestos in schools inspection initiative investigated practices in a carefully selected random sample of 153 non-local authority schools between April 2013 and January 2014, which included independent, voluntary aided and foundation schools, free schools and academies.
HSE news release and inspection results and full report • Risks 660 • 28 June 2014
Britain: More than 1 in 8 non-LA schools illegal on asbestos
A criminal failure to deal properly with asbestos was found in more than 1 in 8 schools inspected in a Health and Safety Executive (HSE) probe. HSE’s latest asbestos in schools inspection initiative investigated practices in a carefully selected random sample of 153 non-local authority schools between April 2013 and January 2014, which included independent, voluntary aided and foundation schools, free schools and academies.
HSE news release and inspection results and full report • Risks 660 • 28 June 2014
Britain: Government and insurers colluded on asbestos deal
The government and the Association of British Insurers (ABI) ‘colluded’ on a deal that introduced legal reforms favouring insurers and harming asbestos disease claimants, it has been claimed. Under the deal, the government acquiesced to an insurance industry demand and imposed legal costs on mesothelioma sufferers successfully claiming compensation.
Asbestos Victims Support Groups Forum news release • Thompsons Solicitors news release • Deal struck between the Government and the Association of British Insurers • Risks 659 • 21 June 2014
Britain: Don’t deny rights to injury victims, says STUC
Scotland’s top union body has called on a Scottish parliament committee to uphold access to justice for the victims of workplace injuries. STUC is urging the justice committee to support amendments submitted by John Finnie MSP to the Courts Reform (Scotland) Bill, to protect rights including legal representation.
Courts Reform (Scotland) Bill webpages • Out-Law.com • Risks 659 • 21 June 2014
Britain: Death linked director jailed for illegal asbestos sales
A 64-year-old Shropshire man has been sentenced to 12 months in prison after his company illegally supplied roofing panels containing asbestos. Company director Robert Marsh’s offences only came to light after a 56-year-old construction worker, who was roofing a barn using the panels, fell through the fragile material and later died.
HSE news release and asbestos webpages • Risks 658 • 14 June 2014
Britain: Scots asbestos sufferers face compensation blow
Planned legal changes in Scotland could mean those suffering from asbestos-related illnesses could lose out on legal representation and compensation, a member of the Scottish parliament (MSP) has said. The Scottish government’s Court Reform Bill - which is currently being considered by MSPs - would mean some cases would be downgraded from the Court of Session to sheriff courts, or a new specialist personal injury court.
Greenock Telegraph • Risks 658 • 14 June 2014
Britain: Botched asbestos job risked workers lives
One of the largest asbestos removal contractors has been convicted of putting the lives of workers at risk through a catalogue of safety breaches during demolition of a former school building in Lincoln. Scottish-based Angus Group Ltd claim to have over thirty years experience in asbestos removal and are operating, not only in the UK, but and the middle and far east, yet did not properly manage the removal of asbestos-containing materials at the site of the former Ermine Infants’ School where they were sub-contracted to carry out the asbestos removal work on behalf of the contractors demolishing the school.
HSE release • Risks 656 • 31 May 2014
Britain: Union wins legal victory for asbestos victims
Unite has won a judicial review against HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) which means that, when requested to do so by a coroner, HMRC has to produce the work history of a person suspected to have died from industrial disease. HMRC had recently overturned years of practice of issuing work histories if the deceased person’s relatives consented and were now refusing to do so without a High Court order.
Unite press release • Risks 656 • 31 May 2014
Britain: Cruelty of asbestos payout scheme exposed
The widow of a man who died from asbestos-related cancer is set to miss out on a six figure payout from a government compensation scheme, because he was diagnosed a few days before the scheme kicked in. Sid Pointon, 73, was diagnosed with cancer just 10 days before the Diffuse Mesothelioma Payment Scheme cut-off for payments to help families who have lost loved ones because of the killer dust.
Manchester Evening News • Risks 655 • 24 May 2014
Britain: Labour promises more support for asbestos victims
The next Labour government will provide fresh assistance to victims of asbestos, a shadow minister has pledged. Rachel Reeves, the shadow work and pensions secretary, said a future Labour administration will “be enshrining in a law a levy on the insurance industry, to secure a sustainable funding stream for improved compensation for victims and ongoing research into the disease and its treatment.”
UCATT news release • Heating and Ventilation News • Risks 655 • 24 May 2014
Britain: Workers not told about known asbestos risk
A south London building firm has been fined after a foreman and others were kept in the dark about asbestos exposures. Redwood Contractors Ltd was in possession of a detailed asbestos survey that clearly identified the location of the asbestos wall panels inside a warehouse, but the survey conducted two months prior to the work starting wasn’t shared with the team on the ground.
HSE news release and asbestos webpages • Construction Enquirer • Risks 654 • 17 May 2014
Britain: Union call for better asbestos disease treatment
Communication workers have called for better compensation and more funding for research relating to the deadly asbestos-related disease mesothelioma. CWU national executive committee member Ian Ward told the union’s conference that there was going to be 100 per cent compensation for those contracting the disease, but that the coalition government stepped in to block the move.
Morning Star • Risks 652 • 3 May 2014
Britain: Schools asbestos campaigner gets union plaudits
An internationally renowned asbestos campaigner has received a union’s top award. Teaching union NUT presented this year’s Fred and Anne Jarvis Award to Michael Lees, who since his teacher wife Gina died of the asbestos cancer mesothelioma has worked “tirelessly” to highlight the risks posed by asbestos in schools.
NUT news release • Morning Star • Asbestos in Schools • Risks 651 • 26 April 2014
Britain: Trio of union reps ‘saved hundreds of lives’
Three local union reps have ‘undoubtedly’ helped save hundreds of lives, a newspaper profile of the men has concluded. The Western Morning News notes that in the five years from 2008 to 2012, a total of 396 asbestos-related deaths were recorded in Devon and Cornwall, but adds: “That figure would most likely be far higher but for the work of former dockyard union leaders Bill Goffin, John Williams and Dick Powell.”
Western Morning News • Risks 649 • 5 April 2014
Australia: Warning over 'third wave' of asbestos diseases
Women are likely to form a significant proportion of the ‘third-wave’ of people with asbestos-related diseases in Australia, according to a new research report. ‘The Asbestos Narratives’ presents the findings of a study conducted by Southern Cross University, which investigated the social and psychological impacts of asbestos disease.
SCU news release • ABC News • Risks 648 • 29 March 2014
Britain: Contractors exposed workers to asbestos dust
A Bath building contractor exposed two of its employees to asbestos dust while working at a residential property in the city, a court has heard. Geoff Thomas and Son Ltd allowed the workmen to demolish a basement ceiling in January 2013 without checking for the presence of asbestos –and when it realised the deadly fibre was present, it sent the pair to work on other jobs without decontaminating their clothes.
HSE news release and asbestos webpages • Risks 648 • 29 March 2014
Britain: Government nudges up asbestos cancer payouts
Victims of the fatal asbestos-induced cancer mesothelioma who can’t trace a liable employer or an employers’ liability insurer will from April be able to apply for compensation packages worth an average of £123,000. The payouts, which have been increased by the government after criticism from victims’ groups, are still 20 per cent short of the average from a normal civil claim.
DWP news release • Irwin Mitchell news release • Risks 646 • 15 March 2014
Britain; School caretaker died from asbestos cancer
A man from who spent years working as a caretaker in schools across Hampshire died as a result of asbestos exposure, an inquest has fund. Graham Gale died aged 62 on 24 November last year.
Daily Echo • Risks 646 • 15 March 2014
New Zealand: Workers won't drive asbestos trains
Union members won't be working on 40 new asbestos containing KiwiRail trains until all the deadly material has been removed, rail workers’ union RMTU has said. Some KiwiRail freight services were cancelled after asbestos was found in a paint sample on the China-made trains.
RMTU NZ news release • New Zealand Herald • MSN NZ • TVNZ • Radio NZ • Risks 645 • 8 March 2014
Britain: UNISON backs school asbestos management review
An ‘overdue’ review of asbestos management in schools has been welcomed by UNISON. The Department for Education (DfE) launched the policy review after it was confirmed that children are particularly vulnerable to the dangers of asbestos. The consultation, which closes at the end of March, followed extensive lobbying by the Joint Union Asbestos Campaign and the Asbestos in Schools Group - two groups in which UNISON plays a central role.
UNISON news release • Asbestos management in schools: DfE policy review • Risks 645 • 8 March 2014
Britain: Bid to reclaim NHS asbestos costs in Scotland
The medical costs of treating people in Scotland who suffer from diseases linked to asbestos could be reclaimed under a new bill. Campaigners have said NHS Scotland spends more than £20m a year diagnosing and treating people from the effects of exposure to asbestos.
Evening Times • Daily Record • Herald Scotland • BBC News Online • Risks 644 • 1 March 2014
Britain: ‘Cosmetic’ schools survey to ignore asbestos
A survey of schools in England that will ignore asbestos will leave staff and pupils at risk, unions have warned.
UNISON news release • Risks 644 • 1 March 2014
Thailand: Ministry backs immediate asbestos ban
A ban on asbestos in Thailand could be imminent after the Thai Public Health Ministry (MoPH) last week passed a resolution calling for an immediate prohibition on the use of chrysotile asbestos, the only form of asbestos still legal in the country. Welcoming the government support for an asbestos ban, Thailand Ban Asbestos Network (T-BAN) coordinator Somboon Sreekumdokkae urged politicians and officials to work alongside civil society campaigners.
IBAS news report • Risks 641 • 8 February 2014
Britain: Justice after couple hit by asbestos cancer
Lawyers representing a mum-of-four diagnosed with the same fatal asbestos-related disease that killed her husband say a landmark Court of Appeal ruling granting her full compensation is “a restoration of justice” for asbestos victims. Monica Haxton was awarded £700,000.
Irwin Mitchell Solicitors news release • London Evening Standard • Risks 640 • 1 February 2014
France: Conflicts of interest scandal hits top agency
The French government should block the appointment of a scientist with undeclared asbestos industry links as the head of the Centre for Research in Epidemiology and Population Health (CESP), the country’s leading public health agency, campaigners have said. In a letter to authorities, the National Association of Asbestos Victims (ANDEVA) said the nomination of Paolo Boffetta as head of France’s top institute of epidemiology and public health must be rescinded.
IBAS news report • RightOnCanada news release • Risks 639 • 25 January 2014
Britain: ‘Immoral’ mesothelioma bill faces more flak
The union GMB has added its voice to widespread criticism of a government bill to compensate victims of the asbestos cancer mesothelioma when no responsible insurer can be found. The union criticised an “attempt by the Department for Work and Pensions to put a positive spin” on the “positively immoral” shortcomings of the Mesothelioma Bill. GMB news release • Risks 638 • 18 January 2013
Global: UN cancer agency ‘captured’ by industry
A high profile United Nations cancer agency has been ‘captured’ by industry and compromised, new reports suggest. They reveal that two Russian scientists who have acted for Russia’s asbestos lobby around the world are helping fashion the International Agency for Research on Cancer’s (IARC) policy and publications on asbestos and a paper on asbestos cancer risks with three prominent IARC authors was co-authored by Paolo Boffetta, an ex-IARC staffer who had also acted for the asbestos industry. RightOnCanada • Hazards magazine • Risks 637 • 11 January 2014
Australia: Unions warn asbestos inaction is ‘a killer’
Unions in Australia have expressed alarm at continuing asbestos imports 10 years after an official ban was introduced. National union federation ACTU was speaking out after it was revealed locomotives and car parts containing asbestos but certified as asbestos-free had entered the country from China.
ACTU news release • Risks 637 • 11 January 2014
Britain: Government blocks justice for mesothelioma victims
Eight years ago the TUC proposed a no-fault fund of last resort for people who were injured or who developed any disease through work but where their employer had not got insurance, or the insurer could not be traced. Now a coalition government bill, which had been criticised by asbestos disease advocacy groups and unions for is every limited scope – it only compensates one asbestos cancer, mesothelioma - and reduced payouts, had its final stage in the Commons.
TUC Stronger Unions blog • Northern Echo • Western Morning News • Huddersfield Examiner • Risks 637 • 11 January 2014
Britain: Asbestos scheme is not good enough
Lawyers for people suffering from an always fatal asbestos cancer have said a new compensation scheme is not good enough. The criticism came as the government published details of a scheme it says will award over £350 million over 10 years to around 3,000 mesothelioma victims across the UK who have been prevented from claiming compensation because they cannot trace a liable employer or an employers’ liability insurer.
DWP news release • Irwin Mitchell news release • Pannone Solicitors news release • Risks 635 • 14 December 2013
Britain: School workers to complete asbestos survey
The public sector union UNISON is asking its safety reps and stewards in the schools sector to complete a short joint union survey on the management of asbestos. The union says this will form a vital part of the evidence to be presented by the Joint Union Asbestos Committee to the Department for Education's (DfE) review of its policy on asbestos.
UNISON news release • Joint Union Asbestos Committee survey on asbestos in schools • UNISON information sheet on asbestos • UNISON steps up campaign against asbestos in schools • Risks 635 • 14 December 2013
India: Asbestos pushers told to push off
The government of India must introduce an immediate ban on asbestos, health professionals and campaigners have said. The Occupational and Environmental Health Network of India (OEHNI) coordinated the international response to an asbestos industry promotional drive in the country that has seen imports of chrysotile asbestos nearly double in six years, with a company event pushing the deadly product in New Delhi this week.
OEHNI news release and 2 December letter to Indian government ministers • IBAS report • RightOnCanada report • Risks 634 • 7 December 2013
Britain: Childhood asbestos exposure blamed for cancer
A 61-year-old Wigan woman diagnosed with a deadly asbestos cancer decades after being exposed to the dust has successfully recovered over £70,000 compensation from the Turner & Newall Asbestos Trust. The woman, who lived only 500 yards from the Turner Brothers asbestos factory in Hindley Green as a child in the 1950s and 60s, was diagnosed with mesothelioma, an incurable asbestos-related cancer, in the autumn of 2012.
Thompsons Solicitors news release • Wigan Evening Post • June Hancock Mesothelioma Research Fund • Risks 631 • 16 November 2013
Britain: Widow gains justice over teacher’s asbestos death
The widow of a teacher who died from mesothelioma after being exposed to asbestos during 26 years working at an Eastbourne school has spoken of her relief after securing justice from the local council. Clive Beck, who was head of history at Ratton School between 1972 and 1998, died aged 71 in April 2009, around 18 months after he was diagnosed with the incurable cancer.
Irwin Mitchell Solicitors news release • ITV News • SecEd • Risks 630 • 9 November 2013
Britain: Whistleblowers expose asbestos removal dangers
A botched council asbestos removal job only came to light after workers spotted the dangerous work method and reported it. North Warwickshire Borough Council and a Birmingham decorating firm were fined after workers were exposed to potentially-deadly asbestos fibres.
HSE news release • Risks 630 • 9 November 2013
France: Thousands stage ‘die-in’ over asbestos risks
Thousands of people staged a “die-in” in Paris on Saturday 12 October over the failure by authorities to clear workplaces of asbestos. The protesters from all over France lay down in the street outside Sorbonne University in Paris’ Latin Quarter to illustrate dramatically how asbestos exposure claims 3,000 lives per year in the country.
Google News • Raw Story • Risks 627 • 19 October 2013
Global: Scandals engulf asbestos-backed scientists
Emerging scandals concerns academics in the UK and Canada have exposed the lengths to which the asbestos industry will go to manipulate science and boost its deadly product. A conference last week at McGill University in Canada revealed that one of its most high profile academics, Professor J Corbett McDonald, had received over Can$1 million from the asbestos industry, but had routinely hidden this association when publishing industry-friendly papers; and Edinburgh University’s Professor Ken Donaldson either failed to mention or flatly denied links to firms defending asbestos compensation cases, while receiving payments and writing papers the New York Supreme court found were “intended to cast doubt on the capability of chrysotile [white] asbestos to cause cancer.”
RightOnCanada blog • David Egilman’s full presentation: The Past is Prologue, Universities in Service to Corporations: The McGill-QAMA Asbestos Example • Montreal Gazette • A very particular crime, Hazards magazine special report, September 2013. Nature • The Scotsman • Risks 626 • 12 October 2013
Britain: Schools asbestos protections could be cut
Unions have called on the government to give ‘cast iron assurances’ that budget cuts will not undermine the strategy to address asbestos risks in schools. Fears that an influential steering group set up to manage and monitor the impact of asbestos in schools is to be disbanded, has led to widespread anger and concern by unions who form the joint union asbestos campaign (JUAC).
NUT news release • UNISON news release • The Guardian • Risks 629 • 2 November 2013
Global: Victims want honour stripped from asbestos boss
Seventeen years after Yale University gave Swiss billionaire Stephan Schmidheiny an honorary doctorate of humane letters for environmental stewardship, a group of asbestos disease survivors and family members of asbestos cancer victims in Italy is asking the university to revoke the degree. On 3 June of this year an appeals court in Turin upheld extended Schmidheiny’s jail term from 16 to 18 years for the involuntary manslaughter of thousands by his family firm, former asbestos giant Eternit.
Corporate Crime Reporter • The Hartford Courant. Asbestos in the Dock • Risks 625 • 5 October 2013
Britain: Charities furious at one-sided asbestos consultation
Asbestos charities have expressed their fury to justice minister Helen Grant over what they believe is the excessive influence of the insurance industry on the government’s cancer compensation policy. In a 23 September meeting, the groups told justice minister Helen Grant the “partisan” consultation ‘Reforming Mesothelioma Claims’ would disadvantage people suffering from the always fatal asbestos cancer, mesothelioma.
Asbestos Forum news release • Post Online • Risks 624 • 28 September 2013
Britain: Two companies fined after admitting asbestos crimes
A leading British dairy products company and a Manchester welding company have been fined for exposing employees to material containing the killer dust asbestos at an industrial site in Devon. Dairy Crest, one of the top 250 companies listed on the London Stock exchange, was prosecuted on Friday 13 September alongside Rochdale Electric Welding Company Limited (REWCO), of Middleton, Greater Manchester, after the HSE identified failings with the planning of the job and a lack of training for workers involved. HSE press release • Risks 623 • 21 September 2013
Canada: Justice sought with new asbestos registry
The union representing people who worked at a notorious asbestos mine on Newfoundland's Baie Verte Peninsula is demanding changes to eligibility criteria that prevented most of them from receiving compensation. The United Steelworkers union (USW) says health information gathered by the Baie Verte miners' registry shows people were unfairly denied compensation for diseases caused by exposure to chrysotile, or white, asbestos.
Baie Verte Miners Registry and Out of the fog film explaining the background to the registry. CBC News. March 2009 USW news release giving the background to the registry’s creation • TUC news release • Risks 622 • 14 September 2013
Britain: Students rooms contain asbestos
At least 17,000 students slept in university bedrooms that contained asbestos last year, official figures have revealed. Although universities have asbestos management procedures, campaigners have raised concerns that students may not report damaged asbestos because they do not know it is there.
The Guardian • Risks 620 • 31 August 2013
Britain: Family seeks clues on woman’s asbestos death
The family of Bristol woman who died from an asbestos-related lung cancer is appealing for information from people who may have worked alongside her. Marlene Vile, whose maiden name was Tilzey, died in February after being diagnosed with the asbestos-related cancer mesothelioma in September 2012.
Thompsons Solicitors news release • Risks 619 • 24 August 2013
Australia: Unions welcome new asbestos cash
Unions in Australia have welcomed a cash injection from the federal government for the new Asbestos Safety and Eradication Agency. The additional Aus$6.4m (£3.8m) has been provided to the agency to allow it to implement a National Strategic Plan for Asbestos Awareness and Management.
ACTU news release • Minister for Workplace Relations news release • National Strategic Plan and National Agency • Risks 616 • 3 August 2013
Britain: Thousands lose out because of cruel asbestos law
Campaigners fighting for compensation for asbestos victims have warned the government that thousands of people will be denied justice if it doesn’t strengthen its new Mesothelioma Bill. Asbestos Victims Support Group Forum chair Tony Whitston said that the mesothelioma sufferers and their families were “bitterly disappointed” at the insurers' refusal to pay 100 per cent compensation and to backdate those payments to at least February 2010.
Morning Star • Get Surrey • IBAS Mesothelioma Day round-up • Risks 615 • 27 July 2013
Global: So much for ‘safe’ asbestos use
More than 800 tons of asbestos from Russia were “dumped” eight months ago at the Mexican Gulf coast port of Veracruz, after an importer failed to pay storage fees. Russia, which now fronts the global asbestos lobby, claims asbestos exports should continue because the carcinogenic fibre is used safely in its destination countries.
Latin American Herald Tribune • Risks 614 • 20 July 2013
Britain: Developer escapes jail over asbestos crimes
A property developer who exposed workers to asbestos has been given an eight-month suspended prison sentence and been ordered to pay fines and costs of £100,000. Nottingham Crown Court heard that James Roger Carlton, 64, ignored the presence of asbestos insulation board at the site of the former King Edward VI School in Retford, despite being advised by the Health and Safety Executive on several occasions about how to address the risk.
HSE news release and asbestos webpages • Construction Enquirer • Risks 614 • 20 July 2013
Britain: The female face of Britain's asbestos catastrophe
A new piece of digital artwork by Colombian artist Guillermo Villamizar, ‘The female face of Britain's asbestos catastrophe’, has been inspired by the London-based International Ban Asbestos Secretariat (IBAS).
The female face of Britain's asbestos catastrophe • Risks 613 • 13 July 2013
Global: Asbestos trade up by 20 per cent
Global asbestos exports increased from 1,081,885 tons in 2011 to 1,327,592 tons in 2012, latest figures show. Canadian human rights campaigner Kathleen Ruff, writing on the Prevent Cancer Now website, puts the continuing trade in asbestos down to an industry public relations strategy that saw large sums of cash handed to researchers who were industry stooges.
Prevent Cancer Now report • Hazards asbestos webpages • Risks 612 • 6 July 2013
Britain: UNISON resources on asbestos in schools
Public sector union UNISON says it is ready to ratchet up its campaign against asbestos in schools and has prepared a series of documents to help activists, reps and parents who are concerned about the issue.
UNISON alert and guides: Asbestos in schools - checklist for parents; Asbestos in CLASP or system-built schools; and Joint union advice on warm-air heating systems • Risks 612 • 6 July 2013
Global: The road to asbestos free workplaces
‘The long and winding road to an asbestos free workplace’ maps out the tortuous route towards a worldwide asbestos ban. The book, authored by some of the most prominent union and grassroots campaigners on asbestos, says in Europe the ban on asbestos needs to be complemented by pro-active inspection, identification and mapping of contamination; it adds that outside of Europe, the safety in use ‘fairy tale’ used to justify exports has to be exposed and the trade in the deadly fibre finally stopped.
The long and winding road to an asbestos free workplace, Jan Cremers and Rolf Gehring (editors), CLR Studies 7, 2013. Order enquiries: email Global Book Marketing⁄Central Books or phone 020 8533 5800 • Risks 612 • 6 July 2013
Australia: Asbestos eradication law takes effect
Groundbreaking measures to protect Australians from asbestos have become law. Minister for employment and workplace relations Bill Shorten welcomed the passing of the Asbestos Safety and Eradication Agency Bill 2013 by the Australian parliament. Employment minister’s news release • Risks 611 • 29 June 2013
Britain: Health board done for asbestos failings
A Scottish health board has been fined for safety failings that left workers and contractors at risk from deadly asbestos fibres. Glasgow Sheriff Court heard that Greater Glasgow Health Board, known as Greater Glasgow & Clyde NHS, had failed to properly manage the risks of asbestos in a basement plant room of the Royal Hospital for Sick Children in Glasgow.
HSE news release • Construction Enquirer • Risks 611 • 29 June 2013
Britain: Children face a greater risk from asbestos exposure
A heavyweight government scientific advisory committee has concluded that children are far more vulnerable to asbestos exposure than adults. The Committee on Carcinogenicity of Chemicals in Food, Consumer Products and the Environment (CoC) was asked for advice on the relative vulnerability of children to asbestos to inform discussions of the Department for Education's Asbestos in Schools Steering Group.
Committee on Carcinogenicity (COC) Statement on the relative vulnerability of children to asbestos compared to adults, June 2013 • JUAC news release • ATL news release • NUT news release • ITV News • Risks 609 • 15 June 2013
Britain: Mum dies from asbestos cancer that killed her dad
A mother-of-three who contracted cancer from childhood cuddles with her father in his asbestos-covered overalls has died. A globally respected asbestos campaigner, Debbie Brewer, 53, spent seven years battling mesothelioma, an incurable asbestos-related cancer.
BBC News Online • ITV News • The Sun • The Daily Mail • ADAO report •
Debbie’s Mesothelioma and Me blog • Risks 609 • 15 June 2013
Italy: Billionaire Swiss asbestos killer gets longer sentence
A billionaire Swiss industrialist convicted for his part in Italy's biggest asbestos scandal has had his jail sentence lengthened to 18 years, in a ruling campaigners said would set a precedent for workplace safety lawsuits. Stephan Schmidheiny, found guilty of negligence that led to more than 2,000 asbestos-related deaths, was also ordered to pay millions of euros in damages to local authorities, victims and their families by an appeals court in Turin.
International Ban Asbestos Secretariat news report • Asbestos in the Dock report. Yahoo News • Risks 608 • 8 June 2013
Britain: Northern TUC says Mesothelioma Bill needs change
The TUC Northern Asbestos Support & Campaign Group, has warned that the government's Mesothelioma Bill will exclude hundreds of people with the fatal asbestos-related cancer and leave others short-changed. Instead of providing protection for all industrial disease victims as unions had called for, it limits support to mesothelioma only, imposes an arbitrary eligibility cut-off date of 25 July 2012 and is expected only to pay only 70 per cent of average compensation.
Thompsons Solicitors news release • Risks 607 • 1 June 2013
Britain: Unions force U-turn on asbestos report
A joint campaign by education unions has led to the HSE agreeing to release a report on asbestos contamination in a Welsh school. Cwmcarn High School, Caerphilly, was closed in October 2012 after it was found that asbestos fibres were being released from the school's heaters into the classrooms.
JUAC statement. • Risks 607 • 1 June 2013
Britain: Retired shipyard worker gets lung disease
A former Tyneside shipyard worker has developed a disabling lung condition caused by asbestos. GMB member Thomas Hepple, 72, from North Shields, was diagnosed with pleural thickening – a debilitating lung disease – after suffering severe chest pain and breathlessness in May 2010.
Thompsons Solicitors news release • Risks 606 • 25 May 2013
Britain: Washing overalls led to wife’s asbestos death
A grieving husband whose wife died as a result of exposure to asbestos from his overalls has received a £187,500 payout. Mother-of-three Yvonne Moaby died at her home in Quenington from mesothelioma, an incurable form of cancer caused by asbestos, in May 2010.
The Standard • Risks 604 • 11 May 2013
Global: Toxic exports convention ‘in crisis’
Outraged civil society groups attending the Rotterdam Convention conference in Geneva last week have said the convention was hijacked by industry interests. For the fourth time, a handful of countries allied to the asbestos industry have refused to allow chrysotile asbestos to be added to the Convention’s list of hazardous substances that require exporters to obtain ‘prior informed consent’ from the importer; listing of the pesticide paraquat was also blocked.
RightOnCanada news release • IBAS news report • Joint news release by the Berne Declaration, PAN, IPEN and IUF • Risks 605 • 18 May 2013
Britain: Government to introduced cut-back asbestos scheme
The government is set to introduce a long-delayed compensation scheme for asbestos victims. But plans have now been downgraded so only victims of one asbestos-related condition, mesothelioma, diagnosed after July 2012, will be eligible and payouts will be lower than originally planned too, with an estimated 300 people a year receiving compensation at about 70 per cent of the level paid where the insurer can be found.
UCATT news release • Irwin Mitchell Solicitors news release • The Independent. Northern Echo • Risks 604 • 11 May 2013
Global: London protest challenges Russia on asbestos
Russia’s support for global asbestos trade has been exposed by Putin-masked protesters in a union-backed action outside its London embassy. Russia, the world’s largest asbestos exporter, is expected to join with Zimbabwe to block new rules on chrysotile asbestos exports when they are discussed by government representatives on 7 May.
GMB news release • IBAS news report • RightOnCanada news release and appeal from asbestos victims worldwide • Risks 603 • 4 May 2013
Britain: GMB calls for school asbestos surveys
Everyone with children at school and those who work in our schools must ensure the school heating system has been checked by an authorised asbestos surveyor, the union GMB has urged.
GMB news release • Risks 603 • 4 May 2013
Britain: Asbestos alert on school heaters
Unions this week sent an urgent warning to schools, urging them to check whether they have warm air cabinet heaters that could contain asbestos. The warning from the Joint Union Asbestos Committee follows the discovery of asbestos in warm air cabinet heaters in Cwmcarn High School in Wales in October 2012, which led to the school’s closure.
NUT news release • JUAC website • Risks 602 • 27 April 2013
Britain: Asbestos scarred shipworker’s lungs
A Unite member from Ross Shire has received compensation from six of his former employers after he was diagnosed with the debilitating lung-scarring condition asbestosis. The 79-year-old, whose name has not been released, was exposed to asbestos while working as an apprentice gas fitter and then for several shipyards. Thompsons Solicitors news release • Risks 601 • 20 April 2013
Britain: ‘Shocking’ truth about classroom asbestos
Children and teachers are still at risk of developing cancer due to asbestos-riddled classrooms, the National Union of Teachers has warned. The union is demanding urgent action after Department for Education officials told the Commons education committee that the government's policy was to “contain and actively manage asbestos and for its removal to be carried out correctly and safely (for example when buildings are demolished or refurbished, or when damage means that asbestos is no longer safely contained).”
NUT news release • Morning Star • Risks 599 • 30 March 2013
USA: WSJ attack on asbestos victims criticised
The Wall Street Journal has been criticised for portraying asbestos compensation “fraud” as the “troubling underside” of a system that has forced asbestos companies into bankruptcy. In an 11 March article, which is riddled with basic errors, uses the fraud claim as a hook to give column inches to a Republican-backed ‘Furthering Asbestos Claim Transparency" bill.
Huffington Post • Wall Street Journal • Corporate Action Network • Risks 598 • 23 March 2013
Australia: Asbestos eradication bill introduced
A draft law aiming to ‘eradicate’ asbestos in Australia has been introduced to the national parliament. Employment minister Bill Shorten said the legislation would establish an Asbestos Safety and Eradication Agency.
News release from minister for employment Bill Shorten • The Asbestos Safety and Eradication Agency Bill and explanatory memorandum • Risks 598 • 23 March 2013
Europe: Agreement to ‘eradicate’ asbestos for good
The European Parliament has agreed to ‘eradicate’ asbestos by 2028. The resolution, adopted by the parliament on 14 March with a 558 to 51 majority, calls for the implementation of a co-ordinated European Union (EU) strategy to remove all asbestos.
S&D news release • Risks 597 • 16 March 2013
Pakistan: Asbestos lobby guilty of ‘deadly’ deception
The front organisation for the global asbestos industry has been accused of using ‘deadly, deceptive’ methods to try and derail moves to ban chrysotile asbestos in Pakistan. Human rights campaign group RightOnCanada was commenting on a letter from Jean-Marc Leblond, chair of the International Chrysotile Association (ICA), to Pakistan’s influential Sustainable Development Policy Institute.
RightsOnCancer.ca report and ICA letter • Risks 595 • 2 March 2013
Britain: Welcome for schools asbestos probe
The union GMB has welcomed a call for evidence by the House of Commons Education Select Committee on the issues around asbestos in schools. The parliamentary committee will hear evidence on 13 March.
GMB news release • Risks 595 • 2 March 2013
Britain: Bathroom appliance maker in asbestos payout
A Bathroom appliance manufacturer has paid compensation to a former employee who developed an incurable asbestos disease. Unite supported the claim by Eli Richards, 79, from Great Wyrley, Walsall when he was diagnosed with mesothelioma in December 2011.
Thompsons Solicitors news release • Risks 595 • 2 March 2013
Global: Official agencies stung into asbestos action
A United Nations health agency, stung by allegations it had too close a relationship with the asbestos industry, has issued a statement confirming its support for an end to all asbestos use. The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), which is part of the UN’s World Health Organisation (WHO), was responding to a 2 February article in the medical journal The Lancet.
Joint WHO-IARC Statement in response to the recent Lancet report: end all use of asbestos, 19 February 2013. RightOnCanada.ca commentary. Rotterdam Convention meeting, 28 April-10 May 2013 • Risks 594 • 23 February 2013
Global: Cancer agency criticised over asbestos ties
Alleged links between the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) and the asbestos industry have been condemned on the eve of a crucial UN conference. A report in the medical journal The Lancet examines a series of recent decisions by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) that have triggered a storm of protest from governments, non-governmental organisations, and health campaigners.
IARC in the dock over ties with asbestos industry, The Lancet, volume 381, issue 9864, pages 359-361, 2 February 2013. doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(13)60152-X. International Ban Asbestos Secretariat report • Risks 592 • 9 February 2012
Britain: Brum builder fined for illegal asbestos work
A Birmingham builder has been prosecuted after he exposed himself and potentially young children and their parents to asbestos on the street where he lives. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) prosecuted Nicholas Sharpe, trading as Sharpe Builders, after he illegally removed and broke up asbestos panels from a home in Castle Bromwich.
HSE news release and asbestos webpages • Risks 592 • 9 February 2012
Britain: Architect in deadly asbestos oversight
An architects' practice has been prosecuted after builders were potentially exposed to asbestos fibres during construction work at Aberystwyth Rugby Club in Mid-Wales. Aberystwyth Magistrates heard that Dilwyn Roberts Penseiri/Architects Ltd failed to pass on vital information about the presence of asbestos insulation board to builders before they removed soffits from an end wall at the clubhouse in January 2012.
HSE news release • Risks 592 • 9 February 2012
Britain: Washing overalls killed mum
The son of a woman who died from an asbestos-related cancer is appealing for his dad’s former work colleagues to help investigate his working conditions. It is believed Elsie Winter his was exposed to asbestos dust washing her husband’s work clothes.
Irwin Mitchell news release. Anyone with information about the working conditions at Chilton Council between March 1966 and April 1986 should email Roger Maddocks at Irwin Mitchell or call 0191 2790095 • Risks 592 • 9 February 2012
Britain: Unions continue to benefit asbestos families
An advice service supported by unions had secured approaching £1 million for asbestos victims in northern England since September 2012. The Northern TUC Asbestos Support and Campaign Group says in addition to one-off compensation payments totalling £311,643.00 for asbestos victims in the northern region, it has also sorted out welfare benefits payments of in excess of £105,000 per month for victims and their families.
TUC news release • Risks 592 • 9 February 2012
Britain: UNISON launches an asbestos exposure database
UNISON has become the latest union to run an asbestos exposure database. According to the public service union, “the new asbestos exposure database will help secure compensation for affected members, adding it “is of benefit because the time between being exposed to the fibres and developing an asbestos related disease can be a significant number of years.”
UNISON news report • Risks 590 • 26 January 2013
Britain: Hospital asbestos killed nurse
The family of a former nurse who suffered a ‘heartbreaking’ death from an asbestos-related cancer is appealing for her former colleagues to come forward with information about her working conditions. Joyce Smith died from mesothelioma in March 2012 aged 86 after a nine month battle with the incurable condition.
Irwin Mitchell news release • Risks 589 • 19 January 2013
Britain: Insurance firms oppose NHS asbestos refund law
Legislation to refund the NHS in Wales for the cost of treating asbestos sufferers is unnecessary and impractical, insurance firms have said. Proposals going through the Welsh assembly would force businesses to pay the medical costs of workers who develop asbestos related diseases as a result of exposures at work.
BBC News Online • Recovery of Medical Costs for Asbestos Diseases (Wales) Bill. Welsh Assembly Health and Social Care Committee meeting, 10 January 2013 • Risks 589 • 19 January 2013
Britain: Pupils and school staff exposed to asbestos
Staffordshire County Council and a refurbishment firm have been fined for exposing a nursery class, school staff and two joiners to asbestos fibres. Rugeley firm G Evans (Services) Ltd was refurbishing Glenthorne Community Primary School in Cheslyn Hay for the council when the incident happened on Friday, 13 February 2009.
HSE news release and ‘Hidden Killer’ asbestos resources • Risks 587 • 22 December 2012
Britain: Retired train driver gets work cancer
A train driver who was exposed to asbestos has received a ‘substantial’ payout after he was diagnosed with a devastating occupational disease. Robin Gould from Westbury, Wiltshire was diagnosed with mesothelioma in January 2012 after suffering from breathlessness.
Thompsons Solicitors news release • Risks 587 • 22 December 2012
Britain: Second payout after deadly work disease progressed
The family a chemical worker who died after years suffering from a debilitating asbestos-related disease has received a second compensation payout. The 75-year-old from Cheshire, whose name has not been released, died from a heart attack in May 2012.
Thompsons Solicitors • Risks 584 • 1 December 2012
Britain: Refurb job led to asbestos exposures
Safety failures by plumbing company Superior Plumbing Installations Ltd may have led to two workers being exposed to asbestos fibres during a major refurbishment project on flats in Aberystwyth. The workers - a site manager and a subcontractor - were not provided with information about the presence of asbestos while working at the flats from November 2010 to February 2011.
HSE news release and asbestos webpages • Risks 586 • 15 December 2012
Britain: Shipwright compensated for pleural thickening
A former shipwright and union rep diagnosed with a disabling lung condition has received ‘substantial’ compensation in a union-backed compensation case. GMB member Robert Kemp, 75, from Sunderland diagnosed with diffuse pleural thickening, a condition related to asbestos exposure.
Thompsons Solicitors news release • Risks 586 • 15 December 2012
Welsh plan new 'polluter pays' law on asbestos
Pontypridd AM Mick Antoniw, has introduced a bill in the Welsh aimed at introducing a law to force businesses and insurers to foot NHS medical bills for asbestos victims. He said: “The Bill will enable the Welsh government to recover the cost of the medical treatment in cases where legal liability for the disease has been established.”
BMA notice • Risks 585 • 8 December 2012
Australia: Unions plan for global asbestos ban
The Australian government must use its influence to curtail the international trade in asbestos, national union federation ACTU has said. ACTU president Ged Kearney made the call as the union body prepared to welcome a delegation of trade unionists from Canada, Laos and India.
ACTU news release • Risks 583 • 24 November 2012
Britain: Judge rules building occupier is liable for cancer
A 65-year-old London man has received compensation of £205,000 after a legal judgment against the firm on whose premises he was exposed to asbestos, rather than against his employer. Frank Baker worked as a lagger’s labourer for Climax Insulation & Packing Limited in the early 1960s, working for five weeks at the Tate & Lyle sugar factory in Silvertown, London, where he was exposed to asbestos.
Leigh Day & Co news release • Risks 583 • 24 November 2012
Australia: Lying asbestos directors lose appeal
Seven former directors of the one-time asbestos giant James Hardie have lost an appeal in the Australian courts to scrap penalties and disqualifications, ending a marathon legal battle over a 2001 board decision to release misleading information to the Australian Stock Exchange about the adequacy of a compensation fund for asbestos victims.
ABC News • The Herald • Risks 582 • 17 November 2012
Britain: Demolition firm removed asbestos illegally
A Cheltenham demolition company has been prosecuted after exposing its own workers to dangerous asbestos fibres and illegally removing asbestos waste from a property in Gloucester. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) prosecuted DA Environmental Services Ltd at Cheltenham Magistrates' Court for three breaches of regulations relating to asbestos removal.
HSE news release and asbestos webpages • Risks 581 • 10 November 2012
Britain: Teachers can call the asbestos register
Teaching union NASWUWT has set up an asbestos exposure register “to assist those worried about exposure to asbestos in Welsh schools.” NASUWT says the new asbestos register, which is accompanied by an asbestos guide, will help people in the event they ever develop an asbestos-related disease.
NASUWT news release and asbestos webpages • Risks 581 • 10 November 2012
Britain: Unions secure official schools asbestos guide
Union pressure has led to the government publishing new online asbestos guidance for school chiefs. The Joint Union Asbestos Committee (JUAC) said the new guide from the Department for Education (DfE) is “a step in the right direction in the campaign to make all UK schools and colleges safe from the dangers of asbestos
Asbestos guidance for schools, DfE, 2012. JUAC news release • GMB news release • Morning Star • Risks 581 • 10 November 2012
Britain: Welsh asbestos campaign launched
Following the closure of Cwmcarn school in Caerphilly after claims that children may have been exposed to asbestos, a campaign for a national database of schools' asbestos has been launched. The Parents' Right To Know campaign wants information on the levels of asbestos, and its condition, in every school in Wales.
Wales Online • Risks 580 • 3 November 2012
Britain: Unions press for schools asbestos audit
Schools cannot be left to self-regulate on safety and the government must order a national audit of asbestos in all UK schools, education unions have said. Commenting in the wake of a school asbestos contamination controversy in Wales, the Joint Union Asbestos Committee (JUAC), said the government should follow the lead of the Welsh Assembly and order an audit of asbestos in all UK schools.
UNISON news release • NUT news release • ATL news release • JUAC webpage • Risks 579 • 27 October 2012
Britain: Union forces council asbestos rethink
A union’s criticism of ‘misinformed’ statements on asbestos risk on a council website has led to the offending passages being removed. Construction union UCATT last week condemned the ‘outrageous’ safety advice given out by Caerphilly council after the discovery of the asbestos contamination which led to the closure of Cwmcarn High School.
UCATT news release • Morning Star • Risks 579 • 27 October 2012
Britain: HSE is seeking to outsource asbestos campaign
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) is planning to outsource the next phase of its campaign to warn the public about the life-threatening danger of asbestos. This week marketing trade magazine PR Week reported it believed three briefs have been drawn up for agencies to lead the communications work, provide insight and offer partnership marketing.
PR Week • Hazards magazine • 20 October 2012
Britain: Closure leads to asbestos surveys of all Welsh schools
Emergency asbestos surveys will be carried out at schools across Wales after the closure of Cwmcarn High School. The school in south Wales was shut last week following the discovery of asbestos contamination, with 900 pupils sent home.
NASUWT news release • Caerphilly County Borough Council webpage on Cwmcarn High School and asbestos • South Wales Argus • BBC News Online • Construction Enquirer • Risks 578 • 20 October 2012
Britain: Asbestos widow driven to a nervous breakdown
A Bradford woman who has won a six-year compensation battle over her husband’s death from the asbestos cancer mesothelioma says no amount of money will ever repay her for the toll it has taken on her own health. Margaret Cooper, who suffered a nervous breakdown after dealing with her husband’s illness and death, will find out in November from the High Court exactly how much she will be awarded in a legal case backed by the construction union UCATT.
Telegraph & Argus • Risks 576 • 6 October 2012
Canada: Government ends asbestos safety veto
The Canadian government has announced it will no longer oppose the listing of chrysotile asbestos as a hazardous substance under the ‘prior informed consent’ export rules of the Rotterdam Convention. It followed another blow for the industry, when the new Quebec government of Pauline Marois stated that it will cancel the $58 million (£36.7m) loan, given by the previous provincial government to three investors intending to open the Jeffrey underground mine and export millions of tons of asbestos to Asia.
BWI news release • RightsOnCanada • National Public Radio • Toronto Star • Risks 574 • 22 September 2012
Britain: Asbestos criminal escapes jail
The director of a south London firm has been given a suspended jail sentence, a curfew and community service after removing asbestos from a house without a licence and deceiving the householders by providing a doctored air test saying the room was safe to re-enter. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigated the circumstances of the incident and brought the prosecution against Peter Horrey under the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2006.
HSE news release and asbestos webpages • Risks 574 • 22 September 2012
Australia: Union welcome asbestos eradication plan
The creation of a new national agency to oversee the management and removal of asbestos is an important step towards eradicating all asbestos from Australia by 2030, unions have said. Michael Borowick, assistant secretary of the national union federation ACTU, said the new Office for Asbestos Safety must move quickly to implement a plan to make Australia asbestos-free within two decades.
ACTU news release • Workplace Relations Minister’s news release • ABC News • Risks 572 • 8 September 2012
Britain: Firms guilty over mill asbestos danger
Two companies have been prosecuted after workers were exposed to potentially deadly asbestos fibres at a mill in Bolton. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) took legal action against mill owner Hazelwise Ltd and letting agent RH Property Management Ltd after finding dozens of damaged asbestos boards stacked up at Brownlow Mill during a visit on 20 October 2010.
HSE news release and asbestos webpage • Risks 571 • 1 September 2012
Britain: Firms overlooked hospital asbestos risks
Two Lincoln companies have been fined after workers were exposed to asbestos during the refurbishment of a Northamptonshire hospital ward. Contractors Simons Construction Ltd and Rilmac Insulation Ltd both pleaded guilty to a criminal safety offence, after asbestos insulation boards damaged by unwitting and unprotected workers.
HSE news release and asbestos webpage • Risks 571 • 1 September 2012
Canada: Asbestos mine suffers financial crisis
Less than two months after the Quebec government gave the Jeffrey asbestos mine a $58 million loan it is in financial crisis, according to weblog RightOnCanada. The mine, in the Canadian town of Asbestos, was once the world's biggest asbestos mine and was given a rescue package by the Quebec government earlier this year, causing outrage among campaign groups (Risks 563).
RightOnCanada • Risks 570 • 25 August 2012
Global: Indian unions outraged at Canadian asbestos push
Indian trade unions have called on the nation’s leaders to ban asbestos immediately to thwart an ‘immoral’ Canadian plan to flood Asia with the lethal fibre. The unions said they are ‘outraged’ by the Quebec government’s decision to underwrite a new asbestos mine that plans to export of over 5 million tonnes of cancer causing chrysotile asbestos to developing countries.
BWI news release • Risks 568 • 11 August 2012
Britain: New asbestos fund must be extended say unions
A new government fund to compensate some asbestos disease victims is much too limited, the TUC has said. The union body said the fund announced this week is limited to people who have the cancer mesothelioma but who until now have been unable to claim because their employer no longer exists and the responsible insurer cannot be traced.
TUC news release • DWP news release • UCATT news release • Risks 566 • 28 July 2012
Britain: New scheme excludes half of asbestos victims
A new tariff scheme designed to plug a loophole that denies many asbestos victims compensation will not cover half of those affected, a campaign group has warned. The Asbestos Victims Support Groups’ Forum says the scheme is flawed, excluding those suffering from asbestosis, pleural thickening and asbestos-related lung cancer.
Asbestos Forum news release [pdf] • Morning Star • Derby Telegraph • Risks 566 • 28 July 2012
Britain: Government ‘turns its back on asbestos victims’
The union Unite has slammed the government for turning its back on many victims of asbestos exposure who cannot trace employers' liability insurance. It believes the scheme announced this week by the government falls short because it excludes asbestos disease victims other than those with one cancer, mesothelioma, and says even those who receive payouts will get far less than a court would have awarded where an insurer could be traced.
Unite news release • Risks 566 • 28 July 2012
Britain: Asbestos job exposed work experience teen
A teenager on work experience was part of a construction team exposed to asbestos during a botched removal job at a top public school. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) prosecuted Sherborne School and Peter Eldridge, the director of the company responsible for the refurbishment project, after an investigation found they had failed to identify and prevent the risk of asbestos exposure at the school.
HSE news release • Construction Enquirer • Risks 565 • 21 July 2012
Prime minister is ‘totally opposed’ to asbestos trade
The UK government deplores Canada’s plans to produce millions of tonnes of asbestos for export to the developing world, David Cameron has indicated. The response to Labour’s Jim Dobbin came at prime minister’s questions on 11 July.
Prime minister’s questions, Hansard, 11 July 2012 • International Ban Asbestos Secretariat • Risks 565 • 21 July 2012
Britain: Cleaner killed by asbestos in council flats
A cleaner died of cancer as a result of being exposed to asbestos in council flats. The 58-year-old from Kent, whose name has not been released, was exposed to the dust whilst working as a cleaner for a London council from 1976 to 1988.
Thompsons Solicitors news release • Risks 564 • 14 July 2012
Global: Outrage at new asbestos mine in Canada
Asbestos victims have joined a global chorus of disapproval at a decision by authorities in Canada to underwrite the development costs of a giant new asbestos mine. On 29 June, the provincial government in Quebec announced it would provide a multimillion dollar loan guarantee to allow the reopening and expansion of the Jeffrey Asbestos Mine.
Irwin Mitchell Solicitors news release • International Ban Asbestos Secretariat (IBAS) •
National Post • Toronto Star • Globe and Mail • Mineweb.com • Risks 563 • 7 July 2012
Canada: Feds knew ‘safe’ asbestos was a lie
Canada’s federal government acknowledged years ago that the dangers of chrysotile asbestos warranted limits on its export - but still fought against international restrictions over the past decade – according to official internal records.
Vancouver Sun • Risks 562 • 30 June 2012
Britain: Asbestos compensation timebomb for academies
Academy and free school governors have been warned that they are legally and financially liable for occupational diseases linked to asbestos exposure in their schools. The Asbestos in Schools (AiS) group says that some academies have been led to believe that they have full public liability insurance to cover pupils for asbestos exposure risks when in fact “the wording in policies fails to give that cover”.
SecEd • Asbestos in Schools • Irwin Mitchell news release • Risks 562 • 30 June 2012
Britain: Director fined after failing to control asbestos
A Brighton estate management director has been fined after failing to manage the spread of asbestos during the demolition of a building. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) prosecuted Brian Marshall, 44, managing director of Supply on Demand Ltd, for breaching asbestos safety regulations.
HSE news release and duty to manage asbestos webpages • Risks 560 • 16 June 2012
Britain: Warning on ‘hidden killer’ in schools
UNISON is calling for urgent action to protect education staff from the dangers posed by asbestos in schools. The union was speaking out after a school caretaker and member of UNISON died from the asbestos-related cancer mesothelioma.
UNISON news release • Risks 557 • 26 May 2012
Britain: School plumber gets mesothelioma payout
A former plumber has received more than £245,000 in compensation after being diagnosed with a deadly asbestos cancer. The 62-year-old GMB member from Whitchurch, Cardiff, was exposed to asbestos while working as an apprentice plumber for Cardiff Corporation, later known as Cardiff County Council, from 1965 to 1970. Thompsons Solicitors news release • Risks 557 • 26 May 2012
Thailand: Asbestos supporters ‘are liars’
The asbestos industry has turned its promotional efforts towards Thailand, with critics saying it is using lies emblazoned on t-shirts to drive home its asbestos-is-good-for-you message. Laurie Allen of the International Ban Asbestos Secretariat (IBAS) notes that “it comes as no surprise that asbestos vested interests in Thailand are liars.”
IBAS report • Bangkok Post • Risks 555 • 12 May 2012
Australia: Asbestos criminal duped the stock exchange
Seven former directors of Australian building materials giant James Hardie misled the Australian Stock Exchange about the company’s ability to fund compensation claims from asbestos victims, the High Court has ruled. The High Court appeal by the Australian Securities and Investments Commission found that former chair Meredith Hellicar and ex-directors Michael Brown, Michael Gillfillan, Martin Koffel, Dan O'Brien, Greg Terry and Peter Wilcox approved misleading and deceptive statements about the company’s ability to meet its asbestos compensation liabilities.
ACTU news release • AMWU news release • ABC News • Risks 555 • 12 May 2012
Global: Top asbestos industry lobby group folds
The organisation that has for decades spearheaded the asbestos industry’s global sales drive has folded. The closure of the Quebec-based Chrysotile Institute has been welcomed by unions and asbestos campaigners.
CLC statement • International Ban Asbestos Secretariat • Chrysotile Institute notice of intention to surrender its charter, Canada Gazette • Montreal Gazette • Risks 554 • 5 May 2012
Britain: Firefighter compensated for asbestos cancer
A former firefighter who was exposed to asbestos at work and recently developed an incurable cancer has received compensation with help from the Fire Brigades Union (FBU). John Stone, 64, was diagnosed with asbestos-related mesothelioma in March 2011.
Thompsons Solicitors news release • Risks 553 • 28 April 2012
Britain: Disease campaigners win asbestos reprieve
The government has said it will for the moment exempt people suffering from the asbestos cancer mesothelioma from highly contentious measures in its legal reforms. The concession came after a well-organised national campaign co-ordinated by the Asbestos Victims Support Groups’ Forum UK (AVSGF), which argued the changes in the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Bill would deny justice to victims of often fatal occupational diseases.
AVSGF news release [pdf] • Commons debate on the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Bill, 24 April 2012, Hansard report • Risks 553 • 28 April 2012
Britain: Parent firm liable for work-related disease
An asbestosis sufferer from London has won an historic case at the Court of Appeal against former global asbestos giant Cape plc. Law firm Leigh Day & Co says the ‘landmark’ judgment sets a new legal precedent for holding parent companies accountable for work-related health problems in employees of their subsidiaries.
Leigh Day & Co news release • Uxbridge Gazette • Risks 553 • 28 April 2012
Britain: Dad’s asbestos-ridden clothes killed daughter
A mother-of-two died of cancer because she used to welcome her shipyard worker father home from work each night with a hug. Annette Bhatti, who was just 49, also helped her ill mother to scrub her father’s asbestos contaminated work uniform by hand more than 40 years ago.
Daily Mail • Daily Star • Daily Mirror • Risks 550 • 7 April 2012
Britain: Heart disease risk for asbestos workers
Workers exposed to asbestos as part of their job are at a significantly greater risk of heart disease and stroke than the general population, with women more likely to be affected than men, according to new research. The study was conducted by researchers at the Health and Safety Executive’s research arm, HSL, and was published online in the journal Occupational and Environmental Medicine.
Anne-Helen Harding and others. Cardiovascular disease mortality among British asbestos workers (1971–2005), Occupational and Environmental Medicine, published online 2 April 2012. doi:10.1136/oemed-2011-100313
Daily Mail • Scotsman • Nursing in Practice • Risks 550 • 7 April 2012
Britain: Unions welcome improved asbestos rights
Unions have reiterated their ‘delight’ at last week’s Supreme Court ruling which will allow many more asbestos victims to receive compensation for related cancers. The Joint Union Asbestos Committee (JUAC), which includes the six main education unions, said the ‘landmark’ decision “means that thousands of families will be able to seek compensation for the loss of loved ones.
JUAC news release [pdf] and website • The Guardian • Risks 550 • 7 April 2012
Britain: Improved asbestos law takes effect
In an unrelated move, a new asbestos at work law took effect on 6 April. The changes to the Control of Asbestos at Work Regulations extends the law’s protection to a wider group of workers, after European Commission lawmakers indicated the UK’s law was too restrictive to meet minimum Europe-wide requirements.
Unite alert on changes to the Control of Asbestos at Work Regulations [pdf] • 7 April 2012
Britain: Dust disease widow’s information plea
The widow of a Durham man who died from a debilitating disease caused by asbestos dust just a week before their golden wedding is appealing for his former colleagues to come forward to help shed light on conditions where he worked. Thomas William Flower died in October last year from the lung scarring disease asbestosis, which was diagnosed after the 74-year-old’s death following a four year battle with illness.
Irwin Mitchell Solicitors news release • Northern Echo • Anyone who can help is asked to call Isobel Lovett at Irwin Mitchell on 0191 279 0104 • Risks 549 • 31 March 2012
Britain: Asbestos victory at the Supreme Court
A Supreme Court ruling which this week found against insurance companies that had been seeking to deny compensation to the victims of asbestos cancers has been welcomed by unions.
TUC news release • Unite news release • BBC News Online • Risks 549 • 31 March 2012
Britain: Relief at asbestos trigger case victory
Relatives and supporters of victims of asbestos cancers have expressed relief at a Supreme Court ruling which ends a six year block on many compensation payouts. The court rejected an argument from four insurers - Excess Insurance, MMI, Builders Accident and Independent Insurance Company - that the date when an asbestos cancer develops should be the date when the insurer’s liability is triggered.
Asbestos Forum news release [pdf] • Irwin Mitchell Solicitors news release • John Pickering Solicitors news release • Thompsons Solicitors news release • Risks 549 • 31 March 2012
Britain: Cases expose ongoing asbestos disease crisis
The ongoing risk posed by asbestos exposure has been illustrated by two recent mesothelioma cases, affecting a school caretaker and a wife exposed to the fibre on her husband’s work clothes.
Thompsons Solicitors news release • Gloucester Citizen • Risks 549 • 31 March 2012
Britain: Lords vote down ‘cruel’ legal aid move
Dying victims of occupa tional cancers should not be penalised as a consequence as a government’s drive to trim £350m of the legal aid bill by 2015, peers have said. An amendment to the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Bill blocking government plans to force asbestos victims to use some of their damages to pay legal bills succeeded this week in the House of Lords.
House of Lords debate, 14 March 2012, Hansard. BBC News Online • Yorkshire Evening Post • Risks 547 • 17 March 2012
Britain: Sock firm hit by asbestos fine
A sock company in Carmarthenshire has been fined £25,000 after being found guilty of failing to protect its employees from asbestos. Corgi Hosiery Ltd, which makes socks for Prince Charles, hired unqualified contractors to carry out work on the roof of its Ammanford factory.
HSE news release • BBC News Online • Risks 546 • 10 March 2012
Britain: Washing work clothes killed woman
A woman died of asbestos cancer aged 56 as a result of washing her husband's asbestos-covered work clothes for a decade. Jill Bolstridge would shake off the dirt from overalls worn by her husband James – who worked at Derby engineering firm S Robinson and Sons – before putting them in the washing machine.
Derby Telegraph • Risks 545 • 3 March 2012
Italy: Big jail terms for asbestos killings
Two former executives of a Swiss building products conglomerate have been convicted in Italy of causing the asbestos-related deaths of more than 3,000 people. The defendants, the former owner of the Eternit conglomerate Stephan Schmidheiny and Belgian baron Louis de Cartier de Marchienne, a major shareholder in the firm, were each sentenced in Turin to 16 years in prison on a charge of involuntary manslaughter.
International Ban Asbestos Secretariat blog • iWatch News • CNN • Euronews • BBC News Online • Swissinfo • Risks 543 • 18 February 2012
Britain: Asbestos killed school worker
A school cleaner and caretaker died as a result of exposure to asbestos throughout her career, an inquest has heard. Brenda Ann Butcher, 65, was diagnosed with the asbestos-related cancer mesothelioma on 7 March last year and died on 26 April 2011.
South Wales Argus • Risks 543 • 18 February 2012
Britain: Government confirms schools asbestos inaction
The government has confirmed it is not intending to the take the ‘urgent’ action needed to control asbestos risks in schools. The call for action came this month in a report from parliament’s all party group on occupational health and safety.
Adjournment debate, 7 February 2012: Columns 277 – 284, Hansard • Morning Star • GMB news release • IBAS blog • Risks 542 • 11 February 2012
Britain: Alert electrician spots asbestos blunder
Workers and residents were put at risk of exposure to asbestos fibres until an alert electrician raised the alarm. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) told Chippenham Magistrates' Court that DB Construction (West Wilts) Ltd carried out unsafe work while refurbishing a house in Bradford-on-Avon between 29 November and 10 December 2010.
HSE news release and asbestos webpages • Risks 542 • 11 February 2012
Britain: MPs call for urgent action on asbestos in schools
MPs have warned urgent action is needed to address the asbestos “timebomb in our schools”. A report by the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Occupational Safety and Health, sent to MPs and peers on 1 February, says more than 75 per cent of Britain’s state schools contain asbestos.
News release from Jim Sheridan MP and full report, Asbestos in schools: The need for action, All-Party Parliamentary Group on Occupational Safety and Health, 1 February 2012 [pdf] • Risks 541 • 4 February 2012
Britain: Asbestos like ‘capital punishment’ for workers
A coroner has said asbestos at work was like “capital punishment” for hard workers. Dr Janet Napier, deputy coroner for Cheshire, was commenting at the inquest into the death of a former Crewe Works employee, William Martin, who worked at the railway as a fitter and turner between 1956 and 1988.
Crewe Guardian • Risks 541 • 4 February 2012
Canada: Red Cross tarnished by asbestos links
A board member of the Canadian Red Cross, criticised for her ties to the asbestos industry, has resigned abruptly from the humanitarian group’s governing body. The departure of Roshi Chadha came days after the organisation had rallied behind the "valued member" of its team, spurring protests from asbestos victims and campaigners around the world.
Montreal Gazette • International Ban Asbestos Secretariat • Risks 539 • 21 January 2012
Britain: Cancer strikes 50 years after exposure
A shipyard worker developed a deadly cancer 50 years after being exposed to asbestos in Merseyside’s shipyards. The 80-year-old Unite member from Liverpool was diagnosed with the asbestos related cancer mesothelioma in February 2011.
Thompsons Solicitors news release • Merseyside Asbestos Victims Support Group • Risks 538 • 14 January 2012
Britain: Governors can’t manage schools asbestos
Responsibility for the management of asbestos in state-funding schools must not be transferred to school governors, trade union campaign group has warned. The Joint Union Asbestos Committee (JUAC) is calling on the government to abandon its plans to make the governors of all state-funded schools responsible for the health and safety of their pupils and staff.
NUT news release • Asbestos in Schools • Risks 537 • 7 January 2012
Britain: HSE asbestos campaign is resurrected
The Health and Safety Executive’s award-winning ‘Hidden Killer’ asbestos campaign is to recommence, after being put on hold for over a year on government instruction. A phase of the campaign due to start in October 2010 was abandoned when the government introduced a blanket freeze on government-funded campaigns.
UCATT news release • HSE ‘Hidden Killer’ campaign • Risks 536 • 17 December 2011
Global: Horror at ‘immoral’ discount asbestos plan
Campaigners in India have condemned plans for a trade deal which could eliminate all tariffs on Canadian asbestos exports to the country. Ongoing negotiations for a Canada–India Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement were revealed by Canada's opposition New Democratic Party.
NDP news release • OEHNI news release • IBAS report • Risks 535 • 10 December 2011
Britain: Unite seeks asbestos justice
Supreme Court judges have been asked by Unite to end the uncertainty about whether people dying from the asbestos cancer and their families will be entitled to compensation. Unite’s appeal to the UK’s highest court, which started on 5 December, comes after insurance companies were partly successful in a test case about whether insurers are liable to pay claims for the fatal asbestos cancer, mesothelioma.
Unite news release • Thompsons Solicitors news release • Irwin Mitchell Solicitors news release • Risks 535 • 10 December 2011
[asbestos] Britain: Call for pleural plaques compensation
The “shameful situation” that denies workers in England and Wales compensation for asbestos related pleural plaques must end, the union Unite has said. The union was speaking out after the Northern Ireland Executive announced workers there would be allowed to claim for the condition, following Scotland’s lead.
Northern Ireland Executive news release • Unite news release • Risks 535 • 10 December 2011
Canada: Child pleads for end to asbestos industry
Heidi von Palleske and her daughter, Cavanagh Matmor, 11, travelled to Parliament Hill in Ottawa on 24 November to plead with Canada’s Conservative government to end its support of the asbestos industry. After 130 years, asbestos mining in Canada was suspended in November, but the industry could be revived if the Jeffrey mine in Asbestos, Quebec, secures a loan guarantee from the provincial government to open an underground mine.
Montreal Gazette • Related video • CTV News • Huffington Post • Stop Asbestos Canada website • Risks 534 • 3 December 2011
Australia: Home improvement show gives asbestos warning
A major Australian TV channel is to broadcast asbestos warnings on a popular home renovation programme, after a high profile union campaign. Unions NSW welcomed Channel Nine's decision to include an alert about the dangers of asbestos on ‘The Block’ and called on the other TV networks to follow suit.
Unions NSW news release • Asbestos Diseases Foundation of Australia • Risks 533 • 26 November 2011
Britain: Cases highlight college asbestos dangers
An asbestos related death in a college cleaner, a secretary in a university science department who also succumbed to an asbestos cancer and the prosecution of a university for criminal breaches of asbestos law prove education staff need better protection from the deadly fibre, the union UCU has said.
UCU news release • HSE news release • Sunday Mercury • Risks 533 • 26 November 2011
Britain: Safety cuts 'pose deadly risk in schools'
Children and teachers could die because of government cuts that will hamper the identification of asbestos in schools, Unite has warned. Unite assistant general secretary Gail Cartmail said the deadly material is still rife and that government plans to slash 35 from Health and Safety Executive budgets will mean even more people are exposed.
Morning Star • Huffington Post • Risks 533 • 26 November 2011
Canada: Government told to stop asbestos exports
Canadian opposition MPs renewed calls for the Canadian government to stop their efforts to block asbestos being listed on the UN's list of hazardous substances, and to help asbestos miners and communities dependent on the substance in their adjustment as that economy ends.
News report • ABC report on the effect on developing countries • Risks 532 • 19 November 2011
Britain: Cleaner killed by killer dust
A college cleaner died from mesothelioma after being exposed to asbestos at Grimsby College where she worked. Brenda Waddell, 61, developed the disease after being exposed to asbestos at the then Grimsby College, where she worked as a cleaner from 1984 to 2007.
Press report • Risks 532 • 19 November 2011
Britain: Asbestos deaths claim non-industrial workers
As new figures reveal asbestos cancers are claiming a record number of lives, the deaths of a nurse and a police officer from the asbestos cancer mesothelioma indicate how widespread the problem has become.
Grimsby Telegraph • Sunday Mercury • Risks 530 • 5 November 2011
Britain: Dock worker’s family get asbestos cancer payout
The family of a Humber shipyard welder who was killed by asbestos has received compensation. Lifelong GMB member Arthur Prestidge was 80 when he died from the asbestos cancer mesothelioma.
Thompsons Solicitors news release • Grimsby Telegraph • Risks 530 • 5 November 2011
Britain: Electrician gets pay out for cancer that will kill him
A former electrician diagnosed with an invariably fatal asbestos related cancer has received £140,000 compensation from his former employer’s insurers. The 76-year-old Unite member from Liverpool, whose name has not been released, was diagnosed with mesothelioma in October 2010.
Thompsons Solicitors news release • Risks 530 • 5 November 2011
Britain: Campaign slams ‘devastating’ schools asbestos findings
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has been criticised for putting a positive spin on the “devastating” findings of its investigation into asbestos management in independent, voluntary aided and foundation schools and academies.
HSE news release, list of inspected schools and inspection outcomes and asbestos management webpages • Asbestos in Schools campaign, news release [pdf] and summary of HSE study [pdf] • Risks 528 • 22 October 2011
Britain: Insurance industry slammed
The TUC has attacked the insurance industry for trying to stop workers or their dependants from claiming compensation after they are injured or made ill as a result of their employer's negligence.
Independent on Sunday • Guardian article • Touchstone blog • Risks 527 • 15 October 2011
Britain: Bid to cut asbestos compensation fails
The Supreme Court has rejected an attempt by the insurance industry to overturn the right of people in Scotland to claim compensation for pleural plaques. The House of Lords backed a previous attempt by the insurance industry to prevent damages being claimed by victims of pleural plaques but, unlike in England and Wales, the Scottish Government introduced legislation to restore this right on the grounds that pleural plaques could give rise to more serious conditions, like lung cancer, mesothelioma or asbestosis.
STUC press release. UCATT press release • Risks 527 • 15 October 2011
Britain: STUC names and shames insurance giants
The Scottish TUC has named and shamed the five insurance giants who went to the Supreme Court to try to overturn Scottish legislation giving pleural plaques sufferers a right to compensation. The five culprits have been named as AXA General Insurance Limited, AXA Insurance UK plc, which operates companies like Swiftcover.com, Norwich Union Insurance Limited (Aviva), Royal and Sun Alliance Insurance plc and Zurich Insurance plc.
STUC press release • Risks 527 • 15 October 2011
Global: Secretive PR firm pushes asbestos
A major US public relations company is attempting to derail a move to ban asbestos in Malaysia, but has refused to reveal who is funding its activities. Washington DC-based APCO Worldwide, whose previous credits including working for the tobacco industry to frustrate US government cancer prevention efforts, “is seeking to undermine an initiative to protect people in Malaysia from cancer caused by asbestos,” said Kelle Louaillier, president of Corporate Accountability International.
RightonCanada news release • Letter sent to Margery Kraus, President & CEO, APCO Worldwide, Washington, DC: Disassociate yourself from the discredited and deadly propaganda of the asbestos industry, health defenders tell APCO Worldwide. Montreal Gazette • Vancouver Sun • Risks 526 • 8 October 2011
Britain: Site firm pays £318,000 for asbestos death
The widow and family of a victim of an asbestos cancer have been awarded personal injury compensation of £318,000. Elizabeth Wolff, 69, from Kilmarnock, lodged a claim for damages after her former construction worker husband William, 66, died from mesothelioma in March 2007. Scotsman • Construction Enquirer • BBC News Online • Risks 526 • 8 October 2011
Britain: Unapologetic M&S fined £1m for asbestos crimes
Marks and Spencer plc and three of its contractors have been fined after putting members of the public, staff and construction workers at risk of exposure to asbestos-containing materials during the refurbishment of M&S stores.
HSE news release and asbestos webpages • Daily Telegraph • Risks 525 • 1 October 2011
Britain: Unite gears up for asbestos showdown
The union Unite is gearing up for a Supreme Court challenge that could deliver justice for asbestos victims. In December, the union will set out to overturn a Court of Appeal decision, known as the trigger test case.
Thompsons Solicitors news release • Evening Chronicle • Risks 525 • 1 October 2011
Britain: Union secures asbestos cancer payout
An electrician diagnosed with the asbestos related cancer mesothelioma has received £140,000 compensation from his former employer. The 71-year-old Unite member from Birmingham was diagnosed in 2009 with mesothelioma, an aggressive and deadly cancer caused by exposure to asbestos.
Thompsons Solicitors news release • Risks 525 • 1 October 2011
Britain: Worker exposed to high levels of blue asbestos
A company in Bath has been fined £600 with £6,013.45 costs after a builder was exposed to high levels of deadly blue asbestos. Jonathan Arnold, 49, was fitting pipework for a new central heating system at Oxford House, in Combe Down, Bath when he was exposed to high levels of loose-fill blue asbestos, also known as crocidolite.
HSE news release and asbestos webpages • Risks 524 • 24 September 2011
Britain: Tory MPs rebuked for asbestos ‘contempt’
A support group for sufferers of asbestos related diseases has condemned the behaviour of two Tory MPs during a committee debate on the impact of legal aid cuts. The group, which attended a hearing of the public bill committee on 13 September to hear the debate on the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Prosecution of Offenders Bill, said that Conservative MPs Ben Wallace and Ben Gummer had behaved like “rowdy public schoolboy” and displayed “contempt” for working people.
Asbestos Forum news release [pdf] • Morning Star • Public Bill Committee hearing, 13 September • Risks 524 • 24 September 2011
Britain: HSE moves to improve weak asbestos law
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) is to change the law on asbestos at work, after accepting the current law fails to meet Europe’s minimum requirements. HSE’s admission it had under-implemented the European Commission’s 2003 directive on control of asbestos at work was first revealed by the trade union journal Hazards in April this year.
HSE consultative document [pdf] – response deadline 4 November 2011 • Hazards magazine • HSE news release and training pledge website • Risks 522 • 10 September 2011
Britain: Widow calls for action on asbestos in schools
The widow of a teacher who died after working in asbestos-contaminated schools for more than 20 years is to urge the government to save other families from suffering the same fate. Marilyn Butterfield said losing her husband Graham to the asbestos cancer malignant mesothelioma was “devastating.”
Irwin Mitchell news release • Telegraph and Argus • Morning Star • Risks 522 • 10 September 2011
Britain: Council fined over school asbestos exposures
Birmingham City Council and a Solihull refurbishment company have been fined for exposing three workers to asbestos during work on a school. Solihull Supplies Ltd was contracted by the council to refurbish the reception area at William Cowper Community Primary School, Birmingham, who then sub-contracted another firm to remove ceiling tiles at the school, but failed to carry out a proper risk assessment.
HSE news release and asbestos webpages • Risks 522 • 10 September 2011
Canada: Widow stands firm against government threats
An asbestos widow in Canada has been threatened with legal action after using the logo of the ruling Conservative party in an online advert critical of its support for global asbestos trade. The threatening letter to Michaela Keyserlingk appears to have backfired on the government, and has ensured her crusade against asbestos has become a major news story worldwide
Michaela Keyserlingk’s ban asbestos exports website • Toronto Star • Sierra Club of Canada blog • Global Toronto • Ottawa Citizen • Risks 519 • 20 August 2011
Australia: Home improvement shows overlook risks
TV home improvement programmes should include an on-air warning in each show about the dangers of asbestos, a top Australian union body has said. Unions NSW secretary Mark Lennon said: “These programmes are wildly popular and present a tremendous opportunity to outline the potential danger of asbestos as part of any home renovation.”
Unions NSW news release • Daily Telegraph • Risks 518 • 13 August 2011
Britain: Prosecutions over asbestos exposure
A Norfolk company and a contractor from Manchester have been fined after failing to manage asbestos removal work at a renovation site in Great Yarmouth. Mohammed Zahid was employed in May 2009 by Azam Bros Ltd to clear damage caused by a fire at two commercial units.
HSE news release • Risks 518 • 13 August 2011
Britain: Unite seeks justice for growing asbestos toll
Asbestos disease is affecting growing numbers in the North West, figures from the union Unite suggest. Since January 2010, Unite members and their families in the region have received £1.5m asbestos compensation.
Thompsons Solicitors news release • Risks 517 • 6 August 2011
Britain: M&S convicted of safety crimes
Marks and Spencer plc and two of its contractors have been convicted for putting members of the public, staff and construction workers at risk of exposure to asbestos-containing materials during the refurbishment of two stores. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) prosecuted the retail giant, Willmott Dixon Construction Ltd and PA Realisations Ltd (formerly Pectel Ltd).
HSE news release • Construction Enquirer • Risks 515 • 23 July 2011
Britain: Asbestos killed power station electrician
The family of a South Wales electrician who died from cancer caused by exposure to asbestos at a power station has been awarded “substantial compensation” following a lengthy legal battle. Unite member John Vaughan was 71 when he died from mesothelioma. He was exposed to asbestos while working at Aberthaw Power Station, which at the time was run by the Central Electricity Generating Board (CEGB).
WalesOnline • Risks 515 • 23 July 2011
Britain: Carpenter’s family helps local hospice
The family of a carpenter who died of an asbestos related disease has received a ‘substantial’ sum in compensation and has recovered costs for the hospice that helped him in the final stages of his illness. GMB member Grahame Chiverton from the Isle of Wight died in August 2008, three days before his 50th birthday, after a nine month battle with the asbestos-related cancer mesothelioma.
Thompsons Solicitors news release • Risks 514 • 16 July 2011
Italy: Call for 20 years jail for asbestos magnates
A public prosecutor has called for 20 year prison terms for two asbestos magnates charged with a wilful failure to protect worker and the public from the deadly fibre, resulting in thousands of deaths. At a criminal trial in Turin, prosecutor Raffaele Guariniello this week delivered a closing statement in the trial of Eternit’s Stephan Schmidheiny and Belgian Baron Jean Louis Marie Ghislain De Cartier de Marchienne.
Asbestos in the Dock report • Yahoo News • Risks 513 • 9 July 2011
Britain: Unions call for action to cut asbestos deaths
Unions are calling on the government to introduce a requirement on local authorities to give parents and school workers an annual report on the asbestos risk in schools. The Joint Union Asbestos Campaign (JUAC) says although every year asbestos-related mesothelioma claims the lives of 16 UK teachers, schools will no longer be “proactively” inspected, even though HSE knows a significant proportion of local authorities have serious flaws in the asbestos management systems.
UNISON news release • Risks 513 • 9 July 2011
Britain: Unite demands investment in asbestos treatment
The union Unite says the UK government must provide funds to investigate effective treatments for mesothelioma, the asbestos related cancer. Speaking on 1 July, Action Mesothelioma Day, Unite assistant general secretary Gail Cartmail, said: “The coalition needs to provide funds for greater investment into understanding and treating this terrible disease that kills 2,000 people a year… many of them working in the construction, engineering, ship building and rail industries.”
Unite news release • Risks 513 • 9 July 2011
Global: GMB slams Canada’s asbestos promotion
The UK union GMB has condemned Canada’s continuing defence of unfettered global asbestos trade. The union was speaking out on 1 July, which is both Canada Day and Action Mesothelioma Day.
GMB news release. Montreal Gazette • Risks 513 • 9 July 2011
Canada: Unions appalled’ at asbestos crassness
Canada’s top union leader has said he is ‘appalled’ the Canadian government has blocked an international effort to list chrysotile asbestos as a hazardous substance. The Rotterdam Convention meeting concluded on 24 June, with Canada having stepped in to block listing when it appeared a consensus might be reached on adding the cancer causing fibre to the ‘Prior Informed Consent’ list.
CLC news release and Ken Georgetti’s June 16, 2011 letter to Prime Minister Stephen Harper • Montreal Gazette and related story • The Tyee • Yukon News • The Province • Risks 512 • 2 July 2011
Britain: Warning on deadly ‘asbestos protection crisis’
There is an ‘asbestos protection crisis’ throughout the UK as a result of government cut backs on safety campaigns, enforcement and resources, a victims’ advocacy group has said. The warning came on 1 July as hundreds of sufferers of the aggressive and deadly cancer mesothelioma and their families gathered to mark Action Mesothelioma Day.
AVSGF news release [pdf] • HSE’s shelved ‘Hidden Killer’ campaign • Plymouth Herald • Telegraph and Argus • Action Mesothelioma Day • Risks 512 • 2 July 2011
Global: ILO admonishes Canada on asbestos
The Canadian government has been given a sharp warning by the top international standards body about its behaviour on asbestos. The International Labour Organisation has told Canada to adopt better standards to protect workers' health and to review outdated national laws and regulations on asbestos.
CLC presentation to the ILO meeting • IMF new report • A statement on Chrysotile at the Rotterdam Convention meeting • Risks 510 • 18 June 2011
Britain: Action Mesothelioma Day, 1 July 2011
Action Mesothelioma Day 2011 is being held on Friday 1 July, with events scheduled countrywide. Details of activities in Chesterfield, Dundee, Merseyside, Leicester, Leeds, Newcastle, Manchester and London are already available on the Mesothelioma UK website.
Action Mesothelioma Day, 1 July 2011 [pdf] • Mesothelioma UK • Risks 508 • 4 June 2011
Britain: Chief scientist confirms white asbestos risks
White asbestos deserves its top level cancer rating, the government’s chief scientific adviser has told ministers. In a letter to work and pensions secretary Iain Duncan Smith, Sir John Beddington said “it is my opinion that on the evidence available there is no justification for an imminent change to the international scientific consensus on the classification of chrysotile as a Class 1 carcinogen.”
BIS webpage on chrysotile asbestos • 11 May 2011 letter from Sir John Beddington to work and pensions secretary Iain Duncan Smith [pdf]. Meeting Notes - GCSA meeting on the Classification and Regulation of Chrysotile Asbestos, 7 March 2011 [pdf] • Risks 508 • 4 June 2011
Britain: Plea for asbestos victims 'fund of last resort'
Lawyers acting for people suffering from asbestos-related diseases have renewed their appeal for a ‘fund of last resort’ to step in when a firm’s employers’ liability insurer cannot be found. Claimant lawyers said they had waited more than a year for the results of a consultation on setting up an Employers’ Liability Insurance Bureau, reports the Law Gazette.
Law Gazette • Risks 508 • 4 June 2011
Finland: Unions track asbestos exposure risks
Unions in Finland are keeping track of workplace asbestos exposures, using a purpose designed “follow-up” card. The say the initiative, which was launched last month by the Breathing Association, the union confederations SAK and STTK, and the trade unions representing metal, electrical, paper and construction workers, will record information on individual worker’s exposures and on possible occupational diseases that could be related to those exposures.
Trade Union News from Finland • Risks 506 • 21 May 2011
Canada: Top union body slams asbestos trade
The leader of Canada’s national union federation has slammed the country’s prime minister for promoting asbestos in a bid to win votes. In a letter ahead of federal elections, which this week returned Stephen Harper’s Conservative Party with a substantial majority, Canadian Labour Congress (CLC) president Kenneth Georgetti condemned the prime minister’s vocal support for asbestos trade in a bid to win votes in Quebec, the region with the asbestos mines.
CLC letter • Risks 504 • 7 May 2011
Britain: UK will tighten too weak asbestos law
The UK version of a European Union-wide law on asbestos safety is to be amended after the European Commission (EC) ruled it is illegally lax. In a 28 April statement to the trade union magazine Hazards, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) “confirmed its agreement” with the EC’s finding that the UK had actually under-implemented Europe’s asbestos law.
Hazards magazine • European Commission news release • HSE asbestos at work regulations webpages and the EC asbestos directive and infringement procedures • Risks 504 • 7 May 2011
Britain: Court upholds Scots pleural plaques payouts
Insurers have lost a legal bid to overturn a law in Scotland giving victims of an asbestos-related condition the right to claim damages. Unions welcomed the Court of Session decision to uphold the Damages (Asbestos-related Conditions)(Scotland) Act in 2009 which allows sufferers of pleural plaques, a usually benign scarring of the lungs, to make compensation claims
STUC news release • UCATT news release • Irwin Mitchell Solicitors news release • BBC News Online • Risks 502 • 16 April 2011
Global: Dismay at Canada’s asbestos shame
A major expansion of asbestos production in Canada is to go ahead, after the industry secured official support for a new mine. Global union federation BWI, which represents building workers in the asbestos disease frontline, condemned the decision by the Quebec provincial government to support the Jeffrey asbestos mine.
BWI news release • IBAS commentary • The Cold Truth • CBC News • Risks 503 • 30 April 2011
Britain: Survey reveals schools asbestos peril
Fears about asbestos exposures in schools have been raised after a survey uncovered “worrying shortcomings” in the management of the substance. The nationwide survey of more than 600 union safety representatives in schools “has flatly contradicted” Health and Safety Executive (HSE) claims that the government is meeting its legal obligations to address the issue of asbestos in schools, a trade union campaign group warned.
Unite news release • NUT news release • Asbestos in Schools • Risks 503 • 30 April 2011
Britain: Suspended sentence for asbestos crimes
A property developer has received community service and a suspended prison sentence after ordering the unsafe removal of asbestos from a former nightclub in Wrexham. Michael Murton, 35, admitted removing the asbestos from Scott's nightclub, endangering workers and the public.
HSE news release • Daily Post • BBC News Online • Risks 501 • 9 April 2011
Britain: Site firms fined for asbestos exposures
A plant hire company and a construction services firm have been fined for exposing employees and members of the public to asbestos at a London block of flats. An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found Mansell Construction Services Ltd and subcontractor Woodlands Plant Hire Ltd failed to properly manage asbestos during a flat refurbishment job in December 2009.
HSE news release and asbestos webpages • Construction Enquirer • Risks 500 • 2 April 2010
Canada: Asbestos suffers a mortal blow?
A top union body in Quebec has dealt a serious blow to the province’s embattled asbestos industry. In an overwhelming voice vote, representatives of the 300,000-member Confederation of National Trade Unions (CSN) voted against the planned expansion of Canada’s last asbestos mine in the town of Asbestos, Quebec and says it now wants “to draw up a proposed schedule and transition and restructuring programme for workers in this industry, from a standpoint of triggering the necessary debate on banning asbestos with both levels of governments.”
CSN news release (English version - original in French) • Cold Truth blog • AOL News • Rabble.ca • Risks 498 • 19 March 2011
Britain: Suspended sentence for asbestos crimes
A site manager has been given a two month suspended sentence and 150 hours of community service for exposing a bricklayer to asbestos. Henry Bohlen, 63, from Barry, south Wales, directed the bricklayer to demolish a wall that contained asbestos, putting him at serious risk.
HSE news release and risk assessment webpages • Construction Enquirer • Risks 498 • 19 March 2011
Britain: Asbestos ruling ‘a victory for fairness’
The Supreme Court ruling allowing the family of a former Merseyside pupil a six-figure compensation payout following the exposure to asbestos at school which subsequently killed her, is a victory for fairness and a wake-up call for the government, the Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL) has said.
ATL news release • Risks 498 • 19 March 2011
Asbestos blunders led to £500,000 bill
A clean-up operation after a roofing company spread asbestos fibres around a Leicestershire town cost £500,000, a court has heard. Hampshire-based Concept Roofing and Cladding Services Ltd, who used pressurised water washers to clean roof panels on industrial units in Market Harborough, was fined £12,000 and ordered to pay costs of £22,375.
HSE news release • Leicester Mercury • Risks 497 • 12 March 2011
Britain: Welcome for cancer compensation precedent
Unions have welcomed a Supreme Court ruling that establishes workers may claim compensation after ‘low level’ exposures to a cancer causing substance at work. The Supreme Court this week upheld earlier rulings establishing there was no requirement for a claimant to show a doubling of risk in order to claim asbestos caused their cancer.
NUT news release • UCATT news release • Risks 497 • 12 March 2011
Britain: Backing for ‘low level’ asbestos exposure payouts
Two families have won groundbreaking claims for compensation after loved ones died from cancer caused by exposure to "low level" asbestos. Seven Supreme Court justices unanimously ruled there was no requirement for a claimant to show a doubling of risk.
The Supreme Court press summary [pdf] and full judgment [pdf] • John Pickering • Solicitors news release • Asbestos Forum news release [pdf] • Asbestos in Schools news release • BBC News Online • Liverpool Daily News • Daily Post • Solicitors Journal • The Independent • Risks 497 • 12 March 2011
Britain: Union rep gets asbestos cancer payout
A former GMB shop steward and shipyard convenor from South Shields has received a “substantial” payout just nine weeks after he was diagnosed with an asbestos cancer. The 81 year-old, whose name has not been released and who has the incurable cancer mesothelioma, was exposed to asbestos while working as a chipper and painter for shipyards on the River Tyne, including Redheads Ship Repairers and Tyne Dock Engineering in South Shields.
Thompsons Solicitors news release • Risks 495 • 26 February 2011
Britain: Firms have to pay asbestos care costs
An insurer’s decision to drop an appeal against a landmark court judgment should now clear the way for hospices across the country to secure vital funding for the end of life care of industrial illness victims. The announcement comes just days before a scheduled appeal against a decision by the High Court last year, that ruled the company responsible for the death of James Willson from the asbestos related cancer mesothelioma should contribute to his hospice care costs.
Irwin Mitchell news release • Risks 494 • 19 February 2011
Britain: Asbestos law not up to Euro standard
The UK version of a European Union-wide law on asbestos safety is illegally lax and must be amended, the government has been told. The TUC, which had warned against the dilution of essential safety measures, said the European Commission (EC) ruling nails the myth the UK “gold-plates” Euro laws.
European Commission news release • HSE asbestos at work regulations webpages and the EC asbestos directive and infringement procedure • Risks 494 • 19 February 2011
Global: Canadian asbestos ‘tsunami’ planned for India
The governments of Quebec and India have agreed to draw up an accord on “investment and sustainable development” in mining activities which will include Canada’s asbestos exports. However, unions, safety and environmental campaigners say Quebec plans to export an “asbestos tsunami” to India which could lead to tens of thousands of deaths a year.
IBAS news report • BWI news release • Government of India news release. Montreal Gazette • Risks 493 • 12 February 2011
Global: Asbestos lobby resorts to threats
Shady asbestos industry lobbyists are running a campaign of intimidation targeting key campaigners seeking ban on the deadly fibre. The UK-based International Ban Asbestos Secretariat (IBAS), which coordinates a network for campaign groups worldwide, says in recent weeks “the internet has been flooded by accusations against individuals and groups campaigning to ban asbestos.”
IBAS news report • Risks 493 • 12 February 2011
Britain: Government enforced asbestos silence will kill
Workers will die as a result of the ban on official campaigns introduced by the government, construction union UCATT has warned. The Health and Safety Executive’s (HSE) award-winning Hidden Killer campaign, which is among the affected campaigns, was launched in 2008 after figures showed asbestos disease was killing 20 construction tradesmen every week.
UCATT news release • Daily Mirror • Construction Enquirer • Risks 492 • 5 February 2011
Britain: Caterpillar worker’s died of asbestos cancer
The family of a Unite member has received compensation after he died from an asbestos related cancer. Denis Aspin was exposed to asbestos at Caterpillar UK’s Desford factory, where he was employed as an assembler from 1979 until 2008 when he took voluntary redundancy.
Thompsons Solicitors news release • Risks 491 • 29 January 2011
Global: End made-in-Canada deaths in Asia
Plans to expand asbestos production in Canada will result in an estimated 30,000 deaths in Asia, public health experts and campaigners have warned. A spate of protests in Asia, North America and Europe late last year have continued into 2011, with events in India, Korea and Canada highlighting the human consequences of any decision by authorities that would allow an expansion of asbestos mining in the Canadian province of Quebec.
IBAS news • Montreal Gazette • Raging Grannies • Risks 490 • 22 January 2011
Britain: Son’s battle for justice for his dad
The son of a former employee of the Longbridge car plant, who died after being exposed to asbestos, has launched a search for former colleagues who may be able to help in his battle for justice. John Amos, from Rednal, Birmingham, was diagnosed with the incurable asbestos-related cancer mesothelioma in May 2009, just days before he died aged 79 on 22 May 2009.
Irwin Mitchell news release. Anyone who can assist with information concerning asbestos working practices at the Rover site in Longbridge, should contact Alida Coates on 0870 1500 100 • Risks 490 • 22 January 2011
Global: Asbestos deaths toll under-estimated
The number of deaths related to asbestos exposures worldwide has been dramatically under-estimated, as some major asbestos using nations are failing to report any related cancers, a new study has concluded. A group of experts from Japan, Taiwan and the UK, writing this month in the peer-reviewed journal Environmental Health Perspectives, say their analysis supports a worldwide ban on asbestos production and use.
Park E-K, Takahashi K, Hoshuyama T, Cheng T-J, Delgermaa V, and others. Global magnitude of reported and unreported mesothelioma, Environmental Health Perspectives, published online 6 January 2011. doi:10.1289/ehp.1002845 • Risks 489 • 15 January 2011
Global: Asbestos safety reassurances rubbished
A claim by a Canadian minister that a monitoring scheme will ensure safe use of its asbestos exports has been rubbished by campaigners. The exchange is the latest prompted by plans to massively expand asbestos production in the Canadian province of Quebec, a move for which the industry is seeking financial support from the provincial government.
Vancouver Sun • Asbestos scandal: Irresponsible policies could cause an epidemic of malignant lung disease, Nature, 15 December 2010 • Risks 487 • 18 December 2010
Britain: 'Asbestos on shirt' woman dies of cancer
A 44-year-old woman has lost her battle against a cancer she believed was caused by asbestos dust on her grandfather's work clothes. Mother-of-two Debra Stevenson, of Plymouth, was diagnosed with mesothelioma in December 2008 and died on 5 December 2010.
Western Morning News • Risks 487 • 18 December 2010
Global: Screw tightens on Canada’s asbestos pushers
Canada has been hit with a global barrage of criticism this week for its support for asbestos exports worldwide. Protesters targeted headquarters of the Canadian federal and Quebec provincial governments in London, Hong Kong, Japan, the Philippines, Korea, Indonesia, India and elsewhere highlighting Canada’s commitment to continued asbestos exports and current plans to expand production in the country.
IBAS press pack on the Asian delegation to Quebec [pdf] • BWI statement and briefing [pdf] • Asbestos Forum news release [pdf] • Salon • The Olympian • Ottawa Citizen • ABC News • Globe and Mail • CBC News • Washington Post • Morning Star •
Canada accused of hypocrisy over asbestos exports. Tony Kirby, The Lancet, Volume 376, Issue 9757, pages 1973-1974, 11 December 2010 • Risks 486 • 11 December 2010
Global: Asian asbestos campaigners target Quebec
A group of activists from Asia will descend on Quebec this month to warn the Canadian province’s government about the deadly price paid as a result of its asbestos exports. The delegation, which includes asbestos victims and union representatives, has sent a letter to the province’s premier, Jean Charest, urging him not to underwrite the cost of a massive expansion of asbestos mining at the Jeffrey mine in the town of Asbestos.
Financial Times • CTV • Montreal Gazette • International Ban Asbestos Secretariat.
UK protest: A protest will be held outside Canada House at Trafalgar Square, London, on 9 December, to coincide with an Asian delegation to Quebec. It is supported by unions, support groups and the TUC. Assemble 11 am [flyer pdf] • Risks 485 • 4 December 2010
India: Asbestos multinational’s victims get payouts
Ninety-seven Indian citizens injured by asbestos have finally secured compensation for injuries sustained at the hands of a British company - Turner & Newall Ltd. (T&N). Madhumita Dutta, from Chennai-based Corporate Accountability Desk, commented: “While the amounts paid by the T&N trust are modest, nevertheless an important principle has been established.”
IBAS • Risks 484 • 27 November 2010
China: Study confirms asbestos lung cancer risk
A study in China has confirmed workers exposed to the only remaining form of asbestos in production are at a greatly increased risk of lung cancer. The research published in the journal Occupational and Environmental Medicine, found asbestos workers in the “high exposure” group were 3.66 times more likely to develop lung cancer.
Eiji Yano, Xiaorong Wang, Mianzhen Wang, Hong Qiu and Zhiming Wang. Lung cancer mortality from exposure to chrysotile asbestos and smoking: a case-control study within a cohort in China, Occupational and Environmental Medicine, volume 67, pages 867-871, 2010 [abstract and full text] • International Ban Asbestos Secretariat. • Risks 483 • 20 November 2010
Britain: DIY asbestos removal leads to fine
A Norwich construction company has been fined £30,000 after endangering employees’ lives when it opted to cut costs by undertaking an asbestos removal job at its own HQ. Magistrates heard that members of staff at East Anglian Construction Ltd, a subsidiary of Peter Colby Commercials, had been asked to remove the hazardous building material from the company’s headquarters.
Norwich City Council news release • Norwich Evening News • Risks 483 • 20 November 2010
Global: More bad news for the asbestos pushers
Campaigners pressing for a global ban on asbestos will have further aggravated asbestos lobbyists this week, with the publication of a full page advert in two major Canadian newspapers condemning asbestos exports and use. The ad, which is signed by prominent experts and campaigners and national and international trade union, safety and medical organisations, has subsequently appeared on websites and social networking sites worldwide.
RightOnCanada.ca advert calling for an end to Canadian asbestos exports [pdf] • Risks 483 • 20 November 2010
Britain: Asbestos illnesses killing more women
There has been an alarming increase in the number of women dying of an asbestos-related cancer, with low level exposures in non-industrial jobs suspected as the cause. Latest official figures show that mesothelioma, a cancer caused by exposure to asbestos, is the most rapidly increasing cancer in women.
Daily Mirror • HSE statistics webpages and mesothelioma statistics • Risks 482 • 13 November 2010
Britain: Unite takes asbestos fight to Supreme Court
Unite has confirmed it will go to the Supreme Court to challenge a Court of Appeal ruling it says threatens to deprive thousands of asbestos cancer victims and their families of their rightful compensation. The appeal court ruled last month that in some asbestos cases employers’ liability insurance is triggered not at the time of the exposure to asbestos in the workplace, but when symptoms of asbestos related disease emerged.
Unite news release • Thompsons Solicitors news release • Morning Star • HSE statistics webpages and mesothelioma statistics • Risks 481 • 6 November 2010
Britain: TUC concern at asbestos ruling
The TUC has expressed grave concern at the continued uncertainty facing people dying from asbestos diseases, following a Court of Appeal ruling on compensation payments. Three appeal court judges ruled that only some sufferers could recover damages for the fatal harm they sustained as a result of work exposures decades ago.
TUC news release • Irwin Mitchell Solicitors news release • Thompsons Solicitors news release • John Pickering Solicitors news release • Solicitors Journal • Risks 478 • 16 October 2010
Britain: ‘Perverse’ ruling is an insult to the dying
Asbestos campaigners and unions have criticised a ‘perverse’ Court of Appeal ruling which has left workers dying of asbestos cancers facing delays to their compensation payments or without recourse to compensation at all.
Asbestos Forum news release [pdf] • Unite news release • UCATT news release • GMB news release • Morning Star • Birmingham Mail • Risks 478 • 16 October 2010
Britain: Families at risk from deadly asbestos
It’s not just your own asbestos exposures at work that can lead to a deadly cancer, they can hit your family too, recent cases affecting a daughter, a wife and a granddaughter have demonstrated.
Portsmouth News • Daily Echo • The Sun • Risks 476 • 2 October 2010
Britain: NUT critical of schools asbestos assurances
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has ‘misplaced’ confidence in a survey it says establishes the ability of schools to safety manage asbestos, teaching union NUT has said. NUT general secretary Christine Blower said inspectors only visited 42 authorities, adding: “The other 110 simply completed an on-line survey, making the survey essentially a paper exercise, reliant on local authorities admitting to failings in their system of asbestos management in order to trigger a visit from the HSE.”
HSE news release, survey findings and asbestos management webpages • NUT news release • Edexec • Asbestos in Schools • Risks 475 • 25 September 2010
Global: ITUC welcomes asbestos ‘death knell’
A statement from a United Nations body confirming its desire to see the end of asbestos use worldwide is the ‘death knell’ for a substance which claims one life every five minutes around the clock, the global union confederation ITUC has said. The International Labour Organisation (ILO) this month warned in an official position statement that industry lobbyists pushing asbestos around the world must not claim to have ILO support.
ITUC news release • ITUC/Hazards green jobs, safe jobs blog • BWI news report • World Health Organisation asbestos briefing, July 2010 • International Labour Organisation (ILO) position statement on asbestos • Risks 474 • 18 September 2010
Britain: MOD censured for asbestos crimes
The Ministry of Defence (MOD) has received a formal Crown Censure from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) after potentially exposing workers to deadly asbestos fibres. The action relates to criminal breaches of safety law however the ministry, as a government body, cannot be prosecuted in the criminal courts.
HSE news releases on the MoD Crown Censure and the Interserve fine • HSE managing asbestos webpages • Risks 474 • 18 September 2010
Britain: Deadly asbestos risks onboard ships
A union campaign to secure tougher controls against the threats posed by asbestos on ships has won backing from delegates to TUC’s Congress. Seafarers’ union Nautilus International secured unanimous support for a motion expressing concern at the continued presence of asbestos on ships – despite international rules introduced in 2002 to prevent its use.
Nautilus news release • Risks 474 • 18 September 2010
Global: Asbestos use must stop, confirms ILO
Asbestos industry lobbyists pushing the deadly fibre on the developing world must not claim to have the support of the International Labour Organisation, the United Nations body has indicated. As well as encouraging governments to sign up to ILO conventions, the statement highlights ILO’s commitment to “promoting the elimination of the future use of all forms of asbestos and asbestos-containing materials.”
The ILO position on safety in the use of asbestos, ILO, September 2010 [pdf] • Risks 473 • 11 September 2010
Global: Canada gives asbestos mine more money
A last-ditch effort to revive Quebec’s asbestos industry has received a government cash lifeline while the deadly mining operation scrabbles to find private investors. The rapid approval by the Quebec government of a Can$3.5 million (£2.15m) guaranteed line of credit, plus political support from Canada’s federal government, means the Jeffrey mine in Asbestos, Quebec will reopen for the month of September while it courts possible investors from the UK and India.
IBAS news release • Toronto Star • CBC News • Risks 472 • 28 August 2010
Britain: Shipbreaker fined over asbestos risks
A North Lincolnshire shipbreaking company put its workers and others at risk of exposure to asbestos, a court has heard. Marine reclamation company Acetech Construction Limited, purchased a Polish former fishing vessel, ‘The Patricia III’, in 2007 for dismantling and selling on as scrap.
HSE news release and asbestos webpages • Risks 471 • 28 August 2010
Britain: Asbestos disturbed at primary school
A Solihull building firm has been fined £1,000 after failing to take precautions against asbestos while working at a school. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) prosecuted the company after bosses at Greswolde Construction Ltd failed to warn employees the substance was present, despite being in possession of a survey detailing the location of the asbestos.
HSE news release • Risks 471 • 28 August 2010
Britain: Trades led to asbestos cancers
Two men from the West Midlands developed cancer as a result of exposures to asbestos at work. Iain Shoolbred, a workplace illness expert with Irwin Mitchell Solicitors, is representing is appealing to former work colleagues of Ronald Webster and Barry Halford to come forward with information about working practices, which could prove essential to their compensation claims.
Irwin Mitchell Solicitors news releases on the Ronald Webster and Barry Halford cases. Anyone who worked with either should contact Iain Shoolbred at Irwin Mitchell solicitors on 0870 1500 100 • Risks 470 • 21 August 2010
Britain: Council condemned over schools risks
The leadership of a London council has been condemned by UNISON for its “staggering” failure to address potentially deadly health risks to school staff and pupils. A Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigation into the possible presence of asbestos and legionella bacteria in four schools in the London borough of Waltham Forest found that the council had no plans to deal with the risk of exposure to pupils.
Labournet • Morning Star • Waltham Forest Guardian • Daily Mirror • Asbestos in schools website • HSE legionnaires and asbestos webpages • Risks 470 • 21 August 2010
Britain: Firm must pay for hospice cancer care
The High Court has ruled a company responsible for a man’s death from an asbestos cancer should contribute to his hospice care costs. The ‘landmark’ case involves James Willson who in 1951, aged 20, went to work erecting new boilers at Deptford Power Station and subsequently died of the asbestos cancer mesothelioma.
Irwin Mitchell Solicitors news release • Loughborough Echo • Risks 469 • 14 August 2010
Britain: Pleural plaques payouts scheme kicks off
A controversial government compensation scheme to provide lump sum payouts to some people with asbestos-related pleural plaques is now accepting applications. Thousands will be able to apply for a £5,000 payment, the Ministry of Justice has said.
MoJ news release and pleural plaques compensation eligibility guidelines • Northern TUC news release
Find an asbestos group: Asbestos Victims Support Groups Forum UK • Risks 468 • 7 August 2010
Britain: Joinery job led to asbestos cancer
A former joiner has received a payout for an asbestos cancer, despite one of his employers having ceased trading. Unite member Bernard Dean, 61, received a “substantial” payout after developing mesothelioma.
Thompsons Solicitors news release and ELIB campaign • Risks 468 • 7 August 2010
Britain: Old schools equal more asbestos problems
Unions and asbestos groups have warned there will be “hidden consequences” of the government’s decision to scrap the Building Schools for the Future programme, saying there is “a real and increased risk” of children, teachers and support staff being exposed to asbestos fibres.
Northern TUC news release • Asbestos Exposure in Schools website • Risks 367 • 31 July 2010
Global: True cost of asbestos is exposed
A global network of lobbying groups is ensuring asbestos, banned or restricted in more than 50 countries, continues to be using in developing nations. A four-continent investigation by the US-based Center for Public Integrity (CPI) reports that many scientists fear the continued use of asbestos could significantly prolong a global epidemic of asbestos-related illnesses.
Dangers in the dust – a Center for Public Integrity investigation • BBC News Online • Toronto Star • Montreal Gazette • Vancouver Sun • Risks 466 • 24 July 2010
Britain: Prefab demolition led to asbestos death
A man who developed cancer after being exposed to asbestos while demolishing prefabricated houses received a compensation payout just weeks before his death. John Manniex, from Leigh in Greater Manchester, died of mesothelioma on 1 July.
Thompsons Solicitors news release • Risks 465 • 17 July 2010
Britain: Asbestos epidemic reminder from campaigners
More than 60,000 people in the UK will die in the future having previously been exposed to asbestos leading to a total death toll of 90,000 by the year 2050, campaigners have warned. But they say that despite the magnitude of the epidemic, prevention, research and treatment are all seriously neglected.
Asbestos Forum Action Mesothelioma Day events listing • Irwin Mitchell Solicitors news release • HSE news release • BLF news release • Morning Star • Manchester Evening News • North West Evening Mail • Leicester Mercury • Risks 464 • 10 July 2010
Global: Campaigners denounce Canada on asbestos
A protest outside London’s Canada House was intended to “shame” Canada for promoting asbestos exports, the organisers said. The protest on 1 July, timed to coincide with official celebrations to mark Canada Day, took place as plans were being finalised to pump Canadian federal and state funds into an expansion of asbestos production and exports - demonstrators carried banners bearing messages including: “Canadian asbestos – buy now, die later.”
UCATT news release • GMB news release • Asbestos Forum news release [pdf] • A worn-out welcome: Renewed call for a global ban on asbestos, Environmental Health Perspectives, 1 July 2010 • Risks 464 • 10 July 2010
Global: Condemnation of Canada’s asbestos ruse
Moves to use public money to underwrite the cost of a massive expansion of asbestos mining in Canada are attracting condemnation in Canada and worldwide. This week, in a letter sent to Quebec leader Jean Charest, the Canadian Cancer Society urged the premier not to approve a Can$58 million (£36.6m) loan guarantee to Jeffrey Asbestos Mines, based in Quebec.
Canadian Cancer Society news release and position statement • Public Citizen news release • Montreal Gazette • CBC News • RightOnCanada • Risks 463 • 19 June 2010
Britain: Asbestos protest, Canada House, London, 1 July
Asbestos and safety campaigners are to protest outside Canada House on 1 July. The event, on Canada’s National Day, is to protest at Canada’s continuing support for Quebec’s exports of asbestos to the developing world.
Asbestos protest at Canada House, Trafalgar Square, London 10am to 12 noon, 1 July 2010. Event details • Risks 461 • 19 June 2010
Canada: Deathbed reprieve for killer industry?
The battle to end Canada's export of deadly asbestos may be about to be lost, a top human rights group has warned. Kathleen Ruff of the Rideau Institute says: “Economically, the industry is on its deathbed,” but adds that it has reason to believe it will soon receive a multi-million dollar bail-out from Canada’s federal and Quebec governments.
Toronto Star • Risks 460 • 12 June 2010
Britain: Widow calls for insurance fix
An asbestos widow has called on the government to help asbestos victims and their families overcome barriers to obtaining compensation. Caroline Squires from Wacton in Norfolk has voiced her support for an Employers’ Liability Insurance Bureau (ELIB) after her husband, Almer, died from asbestos related cancer mesothelioma. Mr Squires, died in October 2008, aged 66.
Thompsons Solicitors news release • Risks 457 • 22 May 2010
Britain: Double tragedy for asbestos cancer victim
An asbestos cancer sufferer whose first wife died from the same disease has received compensation from his former employer. Unite member Roland Lakin, 70, from Chorley in Lancashire was diagnosed with the incurable cancer mesothelioma in July 2009 after he nursed his first wife, Thelma, through the disease until she died in 2006.
Thompsons Solicitors news release • Chorley Citizen • Risks 456 • 15 May 2010
Britain: Union asbestos register pinpoints exposure
A former engineer has spoken of his relief in obtaining compensation after being diagnosed with the incurable asbestos cancer mesothelioma in February 2009. Unite member David Marren, 63, became aware of the diseases caused by asbestos when his union launched a National Asbestos Exposure Register.
Thompsons Solicitors news release • Risks 456 • 15 May 2010
Global: Asbestos exports are ‘a crime’
An Indian health group is accusing Jean Charest of backing human rights abuses because of the Quebec premier's views on asbestos exports to the country. Mohit Gupta of the Occupational and Environmental Health Network of India says Charest is dismissing Indians as second-class citizens.
Ban Asbestos India news release • BWI news release • Winnipeg Free Press • Risks 454 • 1 May 2010
Britain: UNISON anger at shortcuts before safety
Public sector union UNISON has revealed that in the last year it has secured nearly £2 million for members with asbestos-related diseases. The union says the figure, released on Workers’ Memorial Day, highlights the risk that many workers face just doing their day-to-day jobs.
UNISON news release • Risks 454 • 1 May 2010
Britain: Punk shop asbestos ‘killed McLaren’
The former Sex Pistols manager Malcolm McLaren may have been exposed to the asbestos that killed him while smashing up Sex, his King's Road punk design shop, his partner Young Kim has said. She said the 64-year-old, who died on 8 April of the asbestos-related cancer mesothelioma, was exposed to the deadly material when he shattered the ceiling of Sex, the shop he shared with his then partner, designer Vivienne Westwood.
The Independent • The Telegraph • BBC News Online • Risks 452 • 17 April 2010
Britain: Dying rail worker gets asbestos payout
A dying man has received £120,000 compensation for the asbestos cancer mesothelioma, caused by his exposure to the fibre while working as a welder at the British Rail workshops in Derby. The 76-year-old Unite member, whose name has not been released, was diagnosed with mesothelioma in February 2009.
Thompsons Solicitors news release • Risks 452 • 17 April 2010
Britain: ‘Gross dereliction’ on school asbestos menace
A failure to tackle effectively the problem of asbestos in schools amounts to a ‘gross dereliction’ of the duty of care to staff and pupils, teaching union NUT has said.
NUT news release • Risks 451 • 10 April 2010
Canada: More public cash for the asbestos lobby
A Canadian government committee has voted to continue funding a body that has spearheaded the global campaign to push deadly asbestos on the developing world. The natural resources committee of the House of Commons rejected a motion that sought to eliminate the Can$250,000 (£164,000) in yearly funding Canada gives to the Chrysotile Institute, a Quebec-based asbestos industry group and energetic advocate of Canadian asbestos exports.
NDP news release • Winnipeg Free Press • RightOnCanada.ca campaign to end Canadian government funding for the asbestos lobby and asbestos webpages • Risks 449 • 27 March 2010
Global: Body repeats call for an asbestos ban
Over 10 years after a global society of occupational medicine experts called for a worldwide asbestos ban, it has reiterated its call and said any further delay will carry a high cost in human lives. The Collegium Ramazzini notes: “All countries of the world have an obligation to their citizens to join in the international endeavour to ban all forms of asbestos,” adding: “An international ban on asbestos is urgently needed.”
International Ban Asbestos Secretariat • Risks 447 • 13 March 2010
Britain: Government acts on asbestos illness
The Ministry of Justice has announced a range of measures to support people who have been exposed to asbestos. TUC general secretary Brendan Barber said the decision not to compensate new cases of pleural plaques was “disappointing” but added “the other measures announced will be of real benefit to those who develop a disease as a result of exposure to asbestos”.
Ministry of Justice news release and statement from Jack Straw • DWP news release • TUC news release • Risks 445 • 27 February 2010
Britain: Mixed verdict from asbestos victims
Asbestos victims’ organisations and personnel injury lawyers have given a mixed verdict on the government’s moves on pleural plaques and asbestos compensation and research.
Asbestos Forum news release and [pdf] • Thompsons Solicitors news release • Risks 445 • 27 February 2010
Britain: UCATT says victims have been ‘abandoned’
Construction union UCATT has expressed disappointment after the government ‘abandoned’ the majority of pleural plaques victims in England and Wales. The union was speaking out after justice secretary Jack Straw confirmed on 25 February the government would only compensate pleural plaques victims who had lodged a legal case prior to a 2007 Law Lords decision to bar compensation.
UCATT news release • Risks 445 • 27 February 2010
Britain: Flawed evidence denied asbestos victims
People killed by asbestos diseases have been wrongly denied compensation because the courts have relied on flawed medical evidence, a landmark case has shown. The judge said that the asbestos level of 20 million fibres for confirmation of asbestos disease was “set too high, probably significantly too high” and found in favour of asbestosis widow Della Sabin and awarded her £100,000 in compensation.
Pannone LLP news release • Risks 445 • 27 February 2010
USA: Shock tactic in New York asbestos protest
A New York union branch has found a novel way of highlighting both the dangers of asbestos and also the importance of unionisation in protecting the safety of both workers and the public. The union has put a coffin outside the offices of a company that is using non-unionised workers to remove asbestos.
Risks 444 • 20 February 2010
Britain: Compensation after asbestos exposure
A former power station worker Clifford King, 85, from Newark in Nottinghamshire has received compensation thanks to his union, Unite, taking up his claim for damages after he was diagnosed with an asbestos-related disease.
Risks 443 • 13 February 2010
Philippines: Unions launch asbestos e-campaign
Unions in the Philippines have launched an email campaign to press for a ban on all asbestos use. The Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (TUCP), the Associated Labor Unions (ALU) and the Building and Woodworkers International (BWI) campaign is urging the country’s Senate to pass Senate Bill 741, banning asbestos.
Ban Asbestos Philippines news release • Risks 442 • 6 February 2010
Global: Scientists slam Canada’s asbestos trade
Over a hundred prominent scientists in 28 countries have challenged Quebec Premier Jean Charest, who embarked on a trade mission to India on 31 January, to stop Quebec's export of asbestos to the developing world. The assault on Canada’s deadly trade came ahead of the mission to India, a key export market for Canada’s asbestos.
RightOn Canada news release and letter to Premier Charest [pdf] • Montreal Gazette • CBC News • CTV News • ETUI-HESA news report • Risks 442 • 6 February 2010
Britain: Former BT worker gets asbestos cancer
A former BT engineer has received “substantial” compensation after his employers admitted exposing him to asbestos. Unite member Vaughan Toms, 62, was diagnosed with the asbestos cancer mesothelioma in November 2008 after complaining about being breathless to his doctor.
Thompsons Solicitors news release • Risks 441 • 30 January 2010
Britain: Union disgust at asbestos law appeal
Insurers have appealed against the decision to allow legislation giving victims of an asbestos-related illness in Scotland the right to claim damages. Last week, a judge rejected a bid to invalidate The Damages (Asbestos-related Conditions)(Scotland) Act which came into force last year and which allows sufferers of pleural plaques, a usually benign scarring of the lungs, to make compensation claims.
UCATT news release • ABI news release • BBC News Online • Risks 440 • 23 January 2010
Britain: Lunch breaks led to asbestos cancer
A gardener exposed to asbestos when he took his lunch break in a boiler room has been awarded £205,000 compensation after developing a deadly cancer. UNISON helped the 57-year-old, identified as Mr Gaffney, to claim the compensation after he was exposed to asbestos while working for the University of Liverpool during the 1980s.
UNISON news release • Risks 440 • 23 January 2010
Britain: Insurers defeated over plaques law
Insurance giants have lost a legal bid to overturn a Scottish law which allows victims of an asbestos-related condition to claim damages. Unions and asbestos campaigners welcomed the Court of Session ruling supporting the pleural plaques law that came into force in Scotland last June.
Court of Session opinion on the Judicial Review • Unite news release • GMB news release • UCATT news release • Thompsons Solicitors news release •Irwin Mitchell Solicitors news release • ABI news release • The Herald • STV News • Daily Mirror • Risks 439 • 16 January 2010
Britain: Workers 'robbed of life and compensation'
Victims of industrial diseases are being denied their full payments, as benefits are clawed back, according to an article in the Independent. Campaigners have told the paper that victims of industrial diseases such as the asbestos cancer mesothelioma are being “robbed” of government compensation because of an “unjust and indefensible” loophole in the Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit (IIDB) scheme.
The Independent • Risks 439 • 16 January 2010
Britain: Official sums wrong on pleural plaques
Construction union UCATT has demanded urgent answers after discovering the government's liability for pleural plaques victims is a fraction of what had previously been claimed. The union says the government’s fear of footing a high compensation bill is the “principal reason” behind the lengthy delays in announcing a decision on pleural plaques compensation.
UCATT news release • Morning Star • Risks 439 • 16 January 2010
Britain: Some asbestos diseases are compensated
While the insurance industry fights to stop pleural plaques being compensated and the government fights the urge to make a decision, other asbestos related conditions are attracting payouts – thanks to union legal services.
UNISON news release • Thompsons Solicitors news release • Risks 439 • 16 January 2010
Britain: Union casts doubt on official plaques dossier
Construction union UCATT has said the author of a key government report recommending that pleural plaques victims should not receive compensation is not an expert in the field and has not met any pleural plaques sufferers. Professor Robert Maynard, an expert in air pollution, wrote ‘Medical aspects of pleural plaques: a review for the Chief Medical Officer’.
UCATT news release • Risks 438 • 9 January 2009
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