Deaths from mesothelioma
Statistics released by the HSE on 7 March 2013 indicate that deaths from mesothelioma continue to increase in Great Britain. The latest information shows that the number of mesothelioma deaths has increased from 153 in 1968 to 2,347 in 2010. Over 80 per cent of deaths were among men, mainly due to asbestos exposure in the workplace. The HSE has published a fact sheet providing mortality statistics by last recorded occupation of the deceased from 2002 to 2010.
The Ministry of Justice has indicated that the consultation will be published in July 2013. The Government’s intention to consult was announced in December 2012. Proposals will include introducing fixed legal fees for mesothelioma claims, a dedicated pre-action protocol and an electronic portal on which the claims will be registered. The aim will be to ensure that these claims are processed and settled as quickly as possible given the nature of the disease.
Pneumoconiosis and mesothelioma: updated lump sum payments
Updating Regulations came into force on 1 April 2013, increasing the lump sums payable under the Pneumoconiosis etc. (Workers’ Compensation) (Payment of Claims) Regulations 1988 and the Mesothelioma Lump Sum Payments (Conditions and Amounts) Regulations 2008. Amounts payable have been increased by 2.2 per cent. When the Regulations were being considered in the House of Commons on 7 March 2013, the Government confirmed that it is working with the ABI and other stakeholders to develop a scheme for mesothelioma sufferers who cannot trace an employer or insurer against whom they could make a claim for damages.
Reporting occupational diseases
The HSE has not pursued plans to significantly change reporting requirements for disease claims under RIDDOR 1995. An HSE consultation last year proposed that employers should not have to report most cases of occupational disease. The consultation ended on 28 October 2012. However, it has been reported that the HSE has decided to retain the need to report occupational cancers, diseases attributable to biological agents and six short latency diseases. Further details are awaited from the HSE.
Welsh Asbestos Bill
The Recovery of Medical Costs for Asbestos Diseases (Wales) Bill would create a new liability on defendants making a compensation payment to victims of asbestos-related disease. They would be required to pay for any NHS services provided in Wales as a result of the disease. The costs of these services are estimated at £2 million a year. The Bill is currently progressing through the National Assembly for Wales. Following completion of Stage 2 proceedings, Stage 3 (plenary consideration of amendments) commenced on 25 April 2013.