Asbestos exposure is still a very real and present danger for the public and professionals in a wide range of industries, despite being banned for more than two decades. Years ago, it was commonly used in the production of lots of consumer products and was also used broadly in construction (insulation, flooring, asbestos cement etc.). The problem lies within the material itself, as asbestos can release fibres into the air that cause severe and fatal diseases such as cancer when inhaled. For example, almost all mesothelioma cases are caused by asbestos exposure.
When claiming compensation for asbestos exposure, it’s essential to identify the parties who bear the responsibility; but who is responsible for preventing your exposure to asbestos? In this post, we’ll find out and learn a little bit more about asbestos exposure.
What is asbestos exposure?
Asbestos exposure occurs when a person is exposed to asbestos fibres (also called asbestos dust). This happens when asbestos is disturbed or cut. If the asbestos is in one place and isn’t moved, drilled, or disturbed, it’s not harmful, but if you’re in the presence of asbestos that has been disturbed and fibres are released into the air, this is asbestos exposure.
Because asbestos was widely used to make many different products in the past, including car parts and building materials, thousands of individuals and employees were exposed to the toxic fibres before the health risks were recognised. Even today, the dust from asbestos can remain in the air for hours, meaning anyone in the nearby area is at risk of inhaling it if it’s present.
When swallowed or inhaled, asbestos fibres can get trapped in the respiratory and digestive systems. While the body can get rid of some of the fibres, others can get stuck and remain in the body permanently. Although asbestos exposure is considered unsafe across the board, most serious issues arise after long-term and repeated exposure, such as from the workplace.
Repeat exposure such as this causes asbestos fibres to build up in human tissue, causing damage and severe inflammation. As time goes on, the damage it inflicts triggers change on a cellular level, leading to various forms of cancer and other diseases.
Who is Responsible for Preventing Your Exposure to Asbestos?
Who is responsible for asbestos exposure depends on the situation the exposure occurred in and which control of asbestos regulations are relevant.
Commercial property/non-domestic premises
The Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012 states that ‘duty holders’ must manage asbestos and protect anyone in close proximity to the materials. In this case, your employer or the owner of affected public buildings. This duty includes an assessment to discover whether asbestos materials are on site and to record details of their location and volume. Also, a health and safety risk assessment must be carried out to identify potential hazards to employees, the public, or anyone else who could be exposed to asbestos. If there is asbestos present, a specialised asbestos management plan must be established to manage and remove the materials (this needs to be done by a licensed asbestos contractor).
When dealing with conventional commercial leases, your employer will be responsible for repairs and similar obligations, such as asbestos, meaning that if asbestos is present within the building, the duty to manage it is that of the tenant. When your employer bought or rented the property, they should have received or requested an asbestos survey, as it is their duty to check and manage asbestos on the property.
Residential property/domestic premises
The duty holder for residential property is the landlord, who is responsible for maintaining the building’s structure. This means your landlord should protect you and all other tenants by managing asbestos in the property by following the CAR regulations. This duty of care covers tenants and visitors, as well as maintenance workers and contractors who carry out maintenance and repairs.
Additionally, a landlord must ensure a risk assessment is completed before any work or repairs are carried out. This ensures any asbestos is revealed ahead of time and can be dealt with appropriately. If contractors are set to carry out work, they must be notified of asbestos being present and its location. Duty holders who fail to do so can be prosecuted by the HSE.
How to comply with asbestos regulations as a ‘duty holder’
When wondering who is responsible for preventing your exposure to asbestos, it’s helpful to understand how a duty holder can comply with the regulations. The duty to manage asbestos is in the fourth regulation of the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012. Within this, it states that the ‘duty holder’ must:
- Take appropriate steps to identify materials containing asbestos and the volume, location, and condition it’s in.
- Unless there’s strong evidence to suggest otherwise, assume materials contain asbestos.
- Maintain an up-to-date record of locations and conditions of asbestos-containing materials or materials with suspected asbestos.
- Complete an asbestos risk assessment for anyone exposed to fibres from the identified materials.
- Prepare a detailed plan for how to manage the risks from these materials, and then put the plan into action.
- Regularly review and monitor the plan to ensure effectiveness and relevance in the future. If necessary, make changes to keep it up-to-date.
- Provide information about the locations and conditions of the materials to those who are likely to work on or disturb them.
Have you been exposed to asbestos at work or at home?
At OH Parsons, we help people who have been exposed to asbestos and now have to live with the fallout. While no amount of money can make up for the pain and suffering of victims and their loved ones, and also the impact of a death in the family — asbestos compensation does go a long way to aid the financial woes of treatment and other expenses.
Below, we’ll help you get started with your asbestos claim.
How to start an asbestos claim
It’s always important to seek the services of experts who possess valuable experience, skills, and resources to get you the compensation you deserve if you’ve contracted a disease as a result of asbestos materials present, especially in the workplace or a rented property.
At OH Parsons, we have a fantastic team of personal injury solicitors who have experience in many areas of personal injury claims, including asbestos-related injury or disease. We operate with a ‘No Win No Fee’ principle, relieving you of the financial responsibilities usually required for claim proceedings. Regardless of the case’s outcome, you will not have to pay us any upfront fees.
Contact our team today for a free consultation at 020 7379 7277.