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North East shipbuilding legacy leads to region having highest number of asbestos related deaths

The North East of England has been identified as having the highest number of asbestos related deaths in the country due to the area’s centuries old shipbuilding heritage. This will also affect other industrial areas across the country.

According to a study by the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers, the region has a higher than average number of deaths due to exposure to the substance. The average asbestos related deaths in England is 4.51 for every 100,000 people.

The health risks associated with asbestos have been known for several decades however, it was widely used in all types of building work, including shipbuilding, until it was banned in 1999.

This was sadly too late for many who won’t experience any legacy symptoms until several decades following exposure and these individuals can enjoy perfectly good health until this point.

For those who worked in the shipbuilding industry, or other sectors where asbestos material might have been used, we often find that they were not provided with any protection or warnings of the risks they were being exposed to at the time.

Asbestos in itself is not dangerous if it’s not disturbed, however, drilling, sawing or any other activity that releases asbestos dust is. The effects of inhaling significant quantities of asbestos dust won’t be evident until 20 – 30 years later, sometimes longer, leading to four diseases:

Asbestosis – an inflammation that results in scar tissue (or fibrosis) building up in the lungs, leading to breathing difficulties, a tight chest, a dry cough and abnormal chest sounds

Pleural thickening – results in breathlessness, pleural thickening is when the layered membrane surrounding the lungs starts to thicken

Lung cancer symptoms can include fatigue, loss of appetite, unexplained weight loss, ache or pain in the chest or shoulder and a persistent cough

Mesothelioma – a cancer of the cells which line the internal organs, often the lungs, with symptoms which can include breathlessness and chest or back pain

For those who are yet to experience any symptoms, but may be concerned that they may have been put at risk of asbestos exposure, seeking medical advice as soon as any tell-tale symptoms appear is essential.

Individuals who do sadly fall ill due to asbestos exposure, are entitled to compensation from the employer responsible for exposing them to this health risk – even in circumstances where the relevant employer has ceased to trade or has changed hands.

Linder Myers’ occupational disease specialists have significant experience in these types of claims and are highly ranked in independent legal directory Chambers & Partners offering an empathetic, personal service.

Successfully securing compensation for individuals affected by asbestos exposure, the team are here to help. To see examples of some of our recently concluded cases, click here.

If your health has been significantly impacted by asbestos exposure, you can speak to a member of our team on 0161 835 8832. Alternatively, please email a summary of your potential claim and contact details to

Find out more about our Occupational Disease department

Written by Jon Andrews. Find out more about Jon here. 

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