Thousands awarded to asbestos victims in the east

MORE than a quarter-of-a-million pounds has been awarded to members of a union who have suffered from deadly asbestos-related diseases in the east.

UNISON says the amount of compensation awarded highlights the risks that many workers face doing their day-to-day jobs.

It says many generations of workers have been exposed to asbestos in oil refineries, hospitals, chemical plants, schools, building sites, shipyards and factories.

In total, �255,961.82 has been paid out in compensation to UNISON members in the east of England who have suffered from asbestos-related diseases - such as mesothelioma, asbestosis and pleural thickening.

General Secretary of UNISON, Dave Prentis, said: “It is shocking that so many workers have died, or being seriously injured, because employers have failed to take the necessary steps to protect them.

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“Too many employers put short-cuts before the safety of their staff and many workers still suffer in silence, losing their physical and mental health before management are forced to take action.”

Last year, teaching union NASUWT called for all asbestos to be removed from Suffolk’s schools- warning that it could put staff and children in danger.

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The union said that between 1991 and 2000, 145 teachers died nationwide from asbestos-related diseases.

Keith Anderson, the union’s national executive member for Suffolk, said: “One of our big concerns is asbestos in schools. It seems to have been a major building material for schools in Suffolk built in the 1970s and 1980s so obviously that is an issue.

“What we want to see is for all asbestos to be removed from schools because it is a hidden danger.

“The trouble is that it is something that is not going to come to fruition until 10, 20, or 30 years later and there is research which shows that children are more susceptible to asbestos than adults, which is worrying for future generations.”

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