Shipyards and Asbestos Disease Compensation Claims

Posted on April 3, 2018   By MIC_Admin

Why do so many former shipyard workers get asbestos disease and why so long after they worked in the shipyards of the UK? Why are ex shipyard workers still being diagnosed with asbestos diseases and as a result only now starting to make asbestos disease compensation claims, so long after they finished working in shipbuilding?

Asbestos as we now know, was a ticking time bomb, but it was used extensively from the 1940s through into the 1970’s because it had great heat resistant properties and certainly in the 1940s there was a good deal of ignorance amongst employers as to its dangers (although how ignorant many of them were, is a moot point!). Therefore its’ use extended across a whole swathe of British industries. It was an ideal material to use when the ability to withstand temperatures and prevent corrosion was a priority. Equally because of the lack of knowledge about its lethal nature, those who worked with it were given scant little, if any, protection against asbestos dust or fibres.

In the shipyards and across the shipbuilding industry it was used in abundance to lag hot water pipes and steam pipes and to insulate boilers on ships. Because of the very nature of the vessels, often those working as laggers and boiler engineers would be working in confined, poorly ventilated spaces, whilst working with asbestos. The deadly nature of asbestos when it is worked with is that it gives off asbestos fibres and dust which are then breathed in by the workers nearby. Subjected to this type of exposure, many shipbuilders and shipyard workers go on the get one of the asbestos related diseases; mesothelioma, asbestos lung cancer or asbestosis in particular.

It wasn’t just laggers and boiler engineers that were at risk of exposure. Other workers who worked in close proximity to those involved in asbestos lagging of pipes and boilers would also have been at high risk of exposure to asbestos fibres and dust – so joiners, painters, electricians, sheet metal workers, pipefitters, boilermakers and general labourers would all be highly likely to run the risk of sufficient exposure to trigger an asbestos disease later in life.

As the UK has a history of being a seafaring nation, shipbuilding was a major industry. Many coastal towns and cities are steeped in shipbuilding with the shipyards being one of the most important if not the most important employer in the region in years gone by. Here are some of what were and in some cases still are, the major shipyard towns and cities in the UK;

  • Glasgow
  • Portsmouth
  • Barrow-in-Furness
  • Newcastle upon Tyne
  • Sunderland
  • Middlesborough
  • London
  • Falmouth
  • Birkenhead
  • Lowestoft
  • Greenock
  • Dumbarton
  • Dundee
  • Liverpool
  • Chatham
  • Southampton

Many of these areas have understandably long had a reputation of being asbestos disease black spots, but former shipyard workers may well have moved away following retirement or before to find alternative employment as the shipbuilding industry declined

Just as the risk was very real for workers in the shipbuilding yards, so too was it for those involved in ship repair, who also ran the risk of exposure when for instance repairing, maintaining and refitting asbestos lagging, boilers etc. Ship repair took place at, at amongst other places;

  • English HN Dockyards such as Chatham, Devonport and Portsmouth
  • Cowes
  • Isle of Wight
  • Clydebank
  • Blyth, Northumberland

As will be found on many of our other asbestos disease related pages on the Mayiclaim website, the reason why asbestos related diseases are still being diagnosed in former shipyard and ship repair workers is because, from a person being exposed to asbestos, sufficient for it to cause an asbestos disease, through to the disease showing signs of itself in the victim and then on to being diagnosed, usually takes a minimum of around 20 years and as much as 50 years. Quite incredible but true. Therefore when many people are first diagnosed with asbestosis, mesothelioma, asbestos lung cancer or pleural plaques, it is when they have reached retirement age and sometimes they are in their eighties.(Signs of the disease could be any one or more of symptoms such as shortness of breath, breathing difficulties, fatigue, difficulty walking any distance and chest pain.)

The prospect of resorting to legal action and making an asbestos disease compensation claim is the last thing victims want to do, particularly at a later stage in their lives. However many do make claims, not just to receive compensation for themselves, but to ensure that their families are looked after. Mesothelioma, for instance, has of yet, no known cure (although there are some very encouraging treatment trials on-going with some success). Once mesothelioma takes hold sadly the sufferer usually has a relatively short life expectancy. Sorting out a mesothelioma compensation claim often becomes a priority for them, once diagnosed, to ensure that their loved ones are financially looked after. 

If you have been diagnosed with an asbestos related illness, or if worked in the shipyards (or any other industry where you were exposed to asbestos) and you are worried that you may have an asbestos illness, then the first thing to do is get checked over by your GP. If he/she feels that there is cause for concern they will refer you to a consultant for an x-ray or scan to find out if you are suffering from an asbestos disease or have the early signs of such.

Your next call you may well want to make to an asbestos disease specialist compensation solicitor and here at Mayiclaim we work with some of the best in the business. They work on a No Win, No Fee basis, but in most cases they will not charge you a success fee (percentage of your compensation), even if you win your case. 

To find out more or if you are worried that you may be suffering from an asbestos disease and want advice from an expert asbestos solicitor, call Mayiclaim on 0800 756 7774 or email . Check out all our asbestos related articles on our website