Campaigners warn that ‘Asbestos is still with us’

From left: John Fearn from Asbestos Action, Dianne Foster from Asbestos Action and Fraser Simpson from Digby Brown Solicitors

Asbestos Action, a charity who supports sufferers of asbestos-related disease, their families and carers, held their 13th annual conference last week in Dundee, with the theme of “Asbestos is still with us”.

The event was supported by Digby Brown Solicitors.

The theme of the conference sought to challenge the perception that asbestos-related illness is a thing of the past, affecting only people who worked in heavy industry.

Many people in the UK continue to be at risk of asbestos exposure as asbestos remains in buildings throughout the UK, including schools.

The keynote speaker at the conference was Sarah Lyons, a senior officer with National Union of Teachers (NUT) and a member of The Joint Union Asbestos Committee (JUAC).

JUAC are actively campaigning to raise awareness of the levels of asbestos in schools, improve the management of asbestos in the education sector and ultimately remove asbestos from schools and colleges, safely.

Ms Lyons revealed at the conference that “44 per cent don’t know if their school contains asbestos”, an alarming figure that shows the potential scale of the problem of asbestos in school buildings and estates.

Other speakers at the conference included Nina Maxwell and Fraser Simpson from Digby Brown who discussed the new challenges surrounding pursuing civil claims on behalf of victims of asbestos related conditions.

Mr Simpson, partner at Digby Brown and head of the firm’s industrial disease department, said: “The work of the Joint Union Asbestos Committee shows how relevant this issue is today.

“From employers to the insurance industry and local authorities, there has to be recognition of the risks that asbestos poses, not just to those employed previously in heavy industry and construction, but also to those exposed to asbestos in our schools, hospitals and elsewhere, and a commitment to doing everything possible to eliminate those risks.”

Shortly after the conference, Digby Brown presented a cheque for more than £27,300 to Asbestos Action, money raised by the fundraising efforts of Digby Brown staff throughout Scotland, which will help them continue their work.