Health and Safety
Asbestos issues and Pleural Plaques
20 December 2008
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.
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.
The CWU Health, Safety and Environment Department has and continues to be involved, affiliated with and or supported the following:
- Asbestos Campaigning groups OEDA and ELMS
- Manchester Asbestos Victims Support Group
- London Hazards Centre and CSC Asbestos Support Group
- Spodden Valley Asbestos Campaign Group
- Campaigning for changes that led to the revised 2006 Control of Asbestos Regulations
- Campaign to get the Mesothelioma drug Alimta licensed for use by NICE
- Pushing for the Scottish Pleural Plaques legislation
- We support "Action Mesothelioma Day"
- Controls on "Asbestos Samples in the Post" operated by cowboy sampling companies
- British Gas sending Asbestos Bags returns via the post stopped
- Revision of BT's Asbestos Policy affecting our BT Engineers
- Revised procedures on Asbestos controls and policies in Royal Mail
- Circulated the "Asbestos in Your Home" leaflets to Branches
- Introduction of the Mesothelioma treatment framework to speed up treatment for victims
- Campaign to give all mesothelioma sufferers the right to claim under the Pneumoconiosis (Workers' Compensation) Act 1979.
- Campaign that led to the Government overturning a controversial court ruling stopping widows from receiving full compensation for
their husbands' Asbestos deaths.
- Successful lobbying that led to the Government introducing an amendment to the Compensation Bill which overturned the House of
Lords judgment in Barker v Corus(UK) which said that where an individual worked for several companies and could not identify which one
was the caused the asbestos disease, damages should be divided between all employers who possibly exposed the victim to asbestos
and the ruling meant that victims would be stopped from claiming full compensation from just one of several negligent employers.
- Early Day Motions on Asbestos related diseases and Pleural Plaques.
- Petitions on Asbestos related diseases and Pleural Plaques to No 10 Downing Street.