Increasing numbers of white collar workers are succumbing to asbestos-related diseases after years of low-level workplace exposure, a lawyer has warned.
John Hall, managing partner with Tilly Bailey & Irvine Solicitors, which has offices in Hartlepool and Wynyard Park, told of the problem.
But he also warned that the workers claims against their employers are proving difficult to substantiate.
Mr Hall’s claim comes as the British Medical Journal reports an expected asbestos-related disease epidemic, likely to peak around 2020.
The deadliest such disease is mesothelioma, which has no cure.
He said: “Mesothelioma has mostly affected those who have worked in heavy industry without protection against the asbestos dust they were exposed to. However, more recently cases have appeared where teachers and office workers have developed this disease. These occupations were not previously considered at risk, but the evidence shows that low level exposure to the dust is sufficient to cause disease.
“Mesothelioma develops between 25 and 50 years after the asbestos exposure, and many of the cases we see now involve exposure in the 1960s and 70s. At that time many white collar workers would have been unknowingly exposed to low levels of the dust in their workplace. Only now is it revealing itself as the disease develops.”
He added: “Whilst it is difficult to substantiate a claim against the owners of the building where a person worked, or the local authority if applicable, we are expecting increasing numbers of such cases in the coming years.
“Therefore a lawyer who is tracking relevant case law will be best able to advise anyone suffering from this disease.”