Recent reports that two government building construction sites have been contaminated with asbestos as a result of imported Chinese building products are fuelling fresh concerns over the health risks to workers who are exposed to Asbestos.
What are the risks? Is compensation available to workers who have been exposed to Asbestos? And what should you do if you are affected?
What risks does Asbestos exposure pose to workers?
Persons at greatest risk of asbestos exposure are those undertaking renovations, repairs or other work with asbestos containing materials as the fibres are disturbed and released into the air.
Inhaling asbestos fibres into the lungs has been linked with 3 diseases, all of which can be fatal:
- Asbestosis: a chronic lung disease caused by scar tissue developing between the alveoli and spreading throughout the lungs
- Mesothelioma: cancer of the outer lung lining (pleura) or lining of the abdominal cavity (peritoneum)
- Lung Cancer: cancerous tumours that are not distinguishable from cancer caused by other agents such as tobacco smoke
Asbestos-related diseases develop over a long period of time and usually emerge between 10 and 50 years after the period of exposure. The more a person is exposed to Asbestos fibres over the course of their life time, the more likely they are to develop a disease.
What compensation is available for workers with Asbestos related diseases?
An affected worker may have several legal options to obtain compensation for conditions they develop as a result of exposure to hazardous levels of Asbestos in their work.
Common Law Claims
A common law claim may be brought against an employer or a manufacturer of Asbestos containing products, if the worker can prove that:
- there was an exposure;
- the exposure caused an illness; and
- the illness resulted from the employer or manufacturer being neglient – such as by failing to protect the employee from exposure.
Statutory compensation benefits may be available through the Worker’s Compensation Dust Diseases Board (DDB) for workers diagnosed with a dust related disease if they suffer a disability as a result of the disease and they were employed in NSW when the exposure occurred.
What to do if you have a claim
Dust disease compensation cases are notoriously difficult to prove due to the significant delay between the exposure and presentation of the disease which is typically decades later. It is therefore recommended that you retain an experienced personal injury lawyer to conduct your case, so that you can ensure you have the best chances of winning your claim.
It is also vital that you act quickly. Strict time limits apply to personal injury claims and Asbestos related diseases can be life limiting, so seek legal advice as soon as possible. Our personal injury lawyers Sydney are always ready to provide you legal service.