Health & Safety

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Asbestos issues and Pleural Plaques

26 July 2009

The CWU Health, Safety and Environment Department has been working on Asbestos related issues and in particular nationally promoting and supporting the current Pleural Plaques Campaign.

magnified asbestos fibres

Pleural plaques are small areas of scarring on the lungs which are benign and are an indicator of exposure to asbestos. Although they do not cause or develop into a more serious asbestos-related condition, they do signify an increased risk of developing mesothelioma because of exposure to asbestos.

Dave Joyce (CWU National Health, Safety and Environment Officer) has recently been speaking to a number of CWU members who are victims of Pleural Plaques. BT Engineers and Romec Ltd Engineers, both former and current employees can and are victims of Pleural Plaques. We can only hope for them that their condition remains dormant and asymptomatic.

On 17 October 2007, the House of Lords ruled that symptomless pleural plaques do not give rise to a cause of action under the law of damages, before this Judgment pleural plaques had been regarded as actionable for over 20 years.

The Scottish Government announced on 29 November 2007, that it intended to introduce a Bill to reverse the House of Lords Judgment and enable those negligently exposed to asbestos who have been diagnosed with pleural plaques to continue to be able to raise and pursue actions for damages in Scotland. The CWU is the campaigning to pressurize the Government to follow the Scottish Parliament lead and legislate to overturn the Lords ruling.