What is secondary asbestos exposure and who is at risk?

Secondary asbestos exposure is a term given to people who have been exposed to asbestos and therefore put at risk of developing an asbestos-related disease, despite not having worked with the substance directly.

It occurred frequently when workers would come home in asbestos-covered clothes, which would then be shaken off and washed by their partners. The act of shaking the clothing would kick up clouds of asbestos fibres, which could be breathed in by anybody nearby.

Secondary exposure also took place amongst people who lived near factories or shipyards where asbestos was used.

Companies that were responsible for exposing their employees to asbestos are also responsible if the families of those workers have been exposed, too.

Secondary asbestos exposure is not a new term – there have been cases for many years that have involved people who have developed Mesothelioma as a result of secondary exposure.

However, a recent high-profile case, settled in the High Court, has brought renewed attention to the risks posed by secondary exposure.

Why is it so dangerous?

It is true that you are more likely to have developed an asbestos-related disease if you had prolonged exposure – such as if you worked with it every day.

However, it is also true that it only takes a single asbestos fibre to lodge in the lungs and to cause a deadly disease such as Mesothelioma.

This is why even brief exposure, such as whilst doing laundry with asbestos-covered clothes, can be dangerous.

Is it difficult to prove?

It can be difficult to prove any claim for compensation for asbestos-related diseases, because of the time that has passed.

Memories fade and hard evidence, such as employment records, become harder to find – industrial disease solicitors are expert investigators, though, and have a number of tactics up their sleeves to help uncover the truth and achieve justice for the clients.

Who can make a claim for secondary asbestos exposure?

Anybody who has developed an asbestos-related disease as a result of exposure while they were at work, or as a result of the work done by a family member, should consider trying to take legal action.

Employers did not do enough to protect workers and their families and, even today, in 2019, we are still experiencing more recorded asbestos-related deaths than at any other point in history.

You can find out more about Browell Smith & Co’s history of dealing with asbestos-related claims via this link.

Contact our expert team today to arrange a no-obligation chat at any of our offices, in Newcastle, Cramlington, Ashington and Sunderland, or alternatively by 0800 107 3000, to discuss your particular requirements.


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