Secondary asbestos exposure and the fight for justice

Careers 1

The use of asbestos was so widespread between the 1930s and the 1980s that workers in many industries were at risk of suffering severe ill health. Secondary asbestos exposure was also a significant threat for their wives and families.

With little in the way of protective equipment or clothing, asbestos fibres and dust were carried home on overalls and work wear only to settle in the home environment where they could be inhaled by the worker’s family.

Secondary asbestos exposure a deadly threat

Secondary exposure to asbestos was a common occurrence if a worker’s wife or other family member cleaned asbestos-contaminated overalls, shaking them to remove the dust prior to washing, possibly several times a week.

As a result, the whole family was at huge risk of developing asbestos-related diseases in later life. There was also a general tendency for employers to cover up or ignore these dangers, and with no asbestos awareness training available at the time, health and safety were severely jeopardised.

Family awarded compensation in secondary asbestos exposure case

Hailed as a landmark ruling for an asbestos case, the family of Adrienne Sweeney has recently been awarded £250,000 in compensation following the death of their mother from mesothelioma.

Mrs Sweeney had been indirectly exposed to asbestos when she shook dust from her husband’s work overalls during the 1960s. He had worked as a boilermaker, and although the level of his own exposure was unclear, the court determined his employers were either aware or should have been aware that his contaminated work clothes would be cleaned at home.

Children also at risk of secondary exposure to asbestos

Family members in general were in danger of breathing in microscopic asbestos fibres which could easily settle unnoticed on floors and work surfaces around the home. In fact, one such tragic case involved the death of a 22-year-old man from mesothelioma in 2011.

The young man’s father had worked in construction and carried asbestos home on his work wear following refurbishment of an estate of council houses. Being unaware of the dangers of asbestos, he cradled his young son whilst still wearing his work clothes.

This happened regularly over a two-year period and resulted in his son being diagnosed with mesothelioma, an aggressive form of lung cancer attributed to asbestos.

Compensation for indirect asbestos victims

An increasing number of cases are coming to light where secondary asbestos exposure has taken place, with families seeking justice through the courts. Employers did have a duty of care to their employees and it has been argued that this duty should also extend to their family given the ease with which second-hand transfer of asbestos takes place.

If you would like more information on asbestos, and how to deal with it, please contact one of our expert consultants. Acorn Analytical Services offers a range of asbestos services including management surveys and demolition surveys, and can provide the professional asbestos guidance you need.

Neil Munro

I work in a dual role at Acorn Analytical Services focused primarily on growing and leading the business from our Northampton office base. My focus is on overseeing all sales, marketing and financial activities from Northampton. I assist clients with high-level asbestos management strategies and training. Together with Ian Stone I host our weekly podcast – Asbestos Knowledge Empire and I'm Co-author of Asbestos The Dark Arts and Fear and Loathing of Health and Safety.

Need Help? Request a Call Back

Request a call back from one of our expert Asbestos Consultants who will help you identify what you need

More Asbestos Articles

The new senior leadership team at asbestos management consultancy Acorn Analytical Services. From left to right, Steve McGlone, Andy Jackson and Simon Rodham.

Award-winning asbestos management consultancy starts 2024 with a new senior team

AWARD-WINNING asbestos management consultancy Acorn Analytical Services has announced a new senior leadership team to take the company into 2024 and beyond. After a record-breaking year which saw the company recognised for High Growth at the National SME Awards while taking on new clients and winning new business across the UK, Acorn Analytical Services, which … Read more

Ian Stone, director of asbestos management consultancy, Acorn Analytical Services

Let’s start 2024 in the right way – by getting rid of the dangers of asbestos for good

According to the latest data from the Health and Safety Executive 2,268 people died from asbestos-related mesothelioma in 2021 alone. It’s a shocking statistic, particularly when you consider that the use of asbestos in new buildings was banned in the UK in 1999 – more than 20 years ago. With Cancer Research UK confirming that … Read more

This Men's Health Month is time to talk about absestos

Men’s Health Month – it’s time to talk openly about asbestos

NOVEMBER marks Men’s Health Month – a time for shining the spotlight on the conditions and issues which affect men from all walks of life. While the focus quite rightly turns to serious health issues including Prostate Cancer, Testicular Cancer and mental health, at Acorn Analytical Services we want people to start talking about asbestos. … Read more

Asbestos consultancy Acorn Analytical Services will soon be moving into new offices

Have you heard the news? Asbestos consultancy Acorn Analytical Services Northampton is on the move

IF you haven’t heard the news already, we are delighted to announce that asbestos connsultancy Acorn Analytical Services Northampton will be starting a brand-new chapter very soon. In the coming days, our team will be moving to new – much larger – offices on Northampton’s Moulton Park, the place which has been our home for … Read more

asbestos in talcum powder

Unveiling the Hidden Danger: The Menace of Asbestos in Talcum Powder and the UK’s Stance

Explore the veiled danger of asbestos in talcum powder, the UK’s vigilant regulations, and the unfolding narrative of consumer safety. Dive into the rigorous testing methodologies, industry responses, and the promising horizon of international cooperation aiming to foster a safer landscape in the realm of personal care products.

RAAC and asbestos could be a problem in some buildings

Raac and ruin? How concrete crisis also raises the question of asbestos

A LOT has been said recently about Reinforced Autoclaved Aerated Concrete (RAAC) and asbestos. While fears about the safety of RAAC continue to dominate the headlines both nationally and locally, it is the additional threat from asbestos which we believe should be discussed now as a matter of urgency. Just as RAAC is crumbling in … Read more

Asbestos consultancy, Acorn Analytical Services, will be raising money for Mesothelioma UK

Asbestos consultancy gears up for 24-hour fundraising challenge

FOR many years the team at Acorn Analytical Services has been an avid supporter of Mesothelioma UK, the only charity in the UK dedicated to supporting people affected by this deadly disease. Mesothelioma is a cancer caused by exposure to asbestos fibres and shockingly still kills around 5,000 people each year in the UK – … Read more

RAAC and asbestos could be a problem in some buildings

The Ultimate Guide to Asbestos Surveyors: Why Your Safety Depends on It

Asbestos, once a ‘miracle material’, now poses severe health risks. Uncover the significance of asbestos surveys in the UK and why your safety depends on it.

Asbestos: Having the right consultancy in your corner has never been more important

‘Having the right consultancy to help you manage asbestos has never been more important’

A REPORT written by asbestos expert and director of Acorn Analytical Services, Ian Stone, has highlighted the worrying state of asbestos in the UK. The Annual Asbestos Industry Review provides a unique insight into the industry and a snapshot of the work being done by Acorn Analytical Services – one of the largest independent consultancies … Read more

Management of asbestos in schools

Management of Asbestos in Schools: A Comprehensive Analysis

In this blog post, we delve into the critical issue of asbestos management in UK schools, the recent HSE report, and the role of Acorn Analytical Services in ensuring safe learning environments.