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 this week announced workers there would be allowed to claim for the condition, following Scotland's lead (Risks 527). The right for UK workers to sue for compensation for pleural plaques - a scarring of the lining of the lungs caused by asbestos - was ended on 17 October 2007 when the House of Lords ruled in favour of insurers in a test case. However the ruling has been overturned by the devolved governments in Scotland and Northern Ireland. Unite's director of legal services Howard Beckett said: 'It is great news that our members in Scotland and now Northern Ireland can be compensated for developing the asbestos related condition, pleural plaques. However, workers in England and Wales are left in the cold and have no rights to claim compensation for being exposed to asbestos due to the negligence of their employers. This segregation must end. It is time the government woke up to the fact that exposure to asbestos is a serious health and safety issue, and only by the fear of litigation can the excesses of irresponsible employers be prevented.' Pleural plaques seldom causes immediate symptoms but are associated with an increased risk of developing fatal conditions like mesothelioma or asbestosis. In the past claimants could receive compensation worth up to £15,000.
Issued: 9 December, 2011