What is Asbestosis?
The asbestos-related disease is usually brought on slowly by frequent exposure to the dangerous material over a prolonged period of time, more commonly in certain working environments. Unfortunately, it is an incurable condition.
If asbestos dust is inhaled, the fibres can enter and stay in the lungs, damaging them over time and causing a build-up of tissue scarring. This subsequently causes breathing to become progressively difficult, as the lungs become stiffer and tighter.
Asbestos is no longer used for producing necessities such as building materials or insulation as it once was, however, there is still the possibility of it remaining in certain materials. Those working in construction or maintenance, for example, could still be at risk.
If you are currently suffering from symptoms (shown below) and potentially worked or are working in an environment involving asbestos, you may have developed a condition such as asbestosis because of insufficient protection from your employer.
The Health and Safety Executive have shown that the asbestosis death rate has been increasing since the year 2000. Statistics currently stand at 467 asbestosis deaths in 2015 and there are thousands of sufferers who are newly diagnosed with the condition every year. The numbers do not seem to be decreasing: as the asbestos-related disease takes many years to show, often as long as 20 or 30 years, current statistics are waiting to be released.
Am I at risk of being exposed to Asbestos?
Although the material isn’t used anymore, its fibres and dust could still be found in industrial buildings or homes built before the year 2000. The mineral could be found in tiles, ceilings, insulation or cement products.
As long as the asbestos is not disturbed or damaged, then there is less risk of breathing it in and it settling in your lungs. Professionals should always be contacted if you are thinking of removing any asbestos-related materials.
In older buildings that you may be working in, be sure that your employer has carried out risk assessments in making sure that you are sufficiently protected.
If you used to work in mining, construction, building or any other similar industries, particularly between the 70s and 90s, it is likely that you were exposed to the hazardous substance.
Symptoms of asbestosis can be similar to those belonging to other forms of lung-related diseases and conditions and do not usually appear straight away. The severity of the symptoms and the condition depends on the length and duration of exposure to the material. Some common asbestosis symptoms include:
- A persistent, dry cough
- Breathlessness, particularly with everyday activities
- Feeling extremely tired and weak
- Pains in the chest and/or shoulder(s)
- ‘Clubbed’ fingers (where the fingertips are swollen in more serious cases of the condition)
It can take many years for the symptoms to come about, but if you feel you are experiencing them, whether minor or severe, you should see your GP as soon as you can to determine what the problem is. A chest x-ray or CT scan would show if there was any damage to the lungs.
Asbestosis prognosis and life expectancy
Symptoms of asbestosis can develop slowly and over many years, or in some cases, the condition will not progress at all. Once the asbestos fibres have settled into the lungs, they can stay there for a while and the scarring can develop even many years after the asbestos exposure.
As the progression can be very slow, a healthy person may not develop the condition at all, however, in more severe cases, asbestosis can greatly affect a person’s life and reduce their life expectancy; be it months or years.
Unfortunately, once asbestosis has been contracted and developed, it is irreversible and there is no cure for it.
Having said this, there are treatments available to help relieve the symptoms of asbestosis, such as pulmonary rehabilitation which involves exercises that can ease any discomfort. Psychological help is also available, where you can have discussions and receive advice on coping with and managing certain symptoms. Additionally, oxygen therapy involves breathing in fresh air from a machine to improve shortness of breath and oxygen levels in the blood.
It is also vital to quit smoking if you do so and ensure that you see your GP to receive any necessary vaccinations, such as flu or pneumococcal, as your lungs will be weaker than normal and more susceptible to contracting infections and viruses.
Making a claim for Asbestosis Compensation
If you have suffered asbestos poisoning and have been diagnosed with asbestosis due to exposure of the hazardous substance at work and insufficient protection from your employer, you may be able to make a claim, even if you no longer work for them.
Since as early as the 1900s, the effects of asbestos have been known worldwide and so your employer is under obligation to provide a 'duty of care' to you and put procedures in place to eliminate the risk of you being exposed to the dangerous dust. Asbestosis is a serious condition and the employee’s protection should not be breached.
Although compensation from an asbestos claim will not help cure or ease suffering, it could help to diminish any financial burdens by covering any medical treatment or other expenses you might need help with.
Accident Line Direct
At Accident Line Direct, we have dealt with asbestosis claims and are able to give you more information and advice. We are sensitive to the fact that it is a stressful time and we understand that compensation won’t eliminate any suffering, but our No Win No Fee policy means that you won’t have to pay any upfront costs and if your claim is unsuccessful, you won’t have to pay any legal fees to your solicitor.
If you feel that you may be entitled to a claim, call us at Accident Line Direct for free today and one of our trained advisors will be ready to answer any queries you may have.
Posted in: Industrial Disease on Thursday 4 January 2018
by Osian Jones