Mesothelioma and other asbestos illnesses may have been contracted in the 1960s and 70s. If you were employed in a factory during these decades, whether on the shop floor or in an office or other role, you need to be particularly aware of the potential risks that you may have been exposed to.
Tufnol Asbestos Products
One example of a product containing asbestos is a material called Tufnol.
Tufnol was widely used in the manufacturing process, often attached to tool parts such as industrial spindles and clutch plates for aircraft. Tufnol would have to be machined or cut, which often involved the material becoming very hot and occasionally being inadvertently burnt. This would send fragments of the material into the surrounding air.
Although the dangers of materials like Tufnol were well known long before asbestos was banned, workers handling the substance were often not provided with proper protective equipment such as specialist masks or extraction facilities. Warnings about the danger of these materials were also rare.
What if I was not working with asbestos?
The risk of asbestos-related illness is not confined to those working directly with the product. Some examples of second-hand exposure include:
- 'Dad's Overalls' cases, where workers would come home with asbestos fibres on their clothes. This would often affect workers' wives who washed their overalls.
- People, such as teachers and pupils or local authority employees, working in public buildings where asbestos was present.
- Workmen who may have disturbed asbestos in homes and other buildings, such as electricians, plumbers and heating engineers.
- Cross-contamination within factories where asbestos was used in certain processes
Factory conditions, particularly in the 1960s and 1970s, were often significant contributors to the risks of using asbestos. For example, in an engineering factory of up to a hundred people working with asbestos on lathes and other machinery, workers would be exposed by close proximity to each other. Employees from different parts of the production process would come into contact with each other, often with asbestos dust on their clothing.
Dust and fumes would often travel across the entire shop floor. Debris containing asbestos would be disposed of in skips positioned in communal areas or car parks.
Workers would also be exposed to asbestos when cleaning machinery, often when using an air-line or pump provided by the employer; lathes, milling machines and electric saws in particular would generate large amounts of asbestos dust. Similarly, workers who packaged products on completion would often be working in environments heavily contaminated with dust and fibres.
If you or a loved one have been diagnosed with an asbestos related illness, the law may be on your side for claiming compensation.