Asbestos News Roundup – May

Here in the UK asbestos seems to hit the headline news on a regular basis, so once a month, one of our blog posts deals with recent news stories about asbestos.  This is our news roundup for the month of May and, again, it would be interesting to know what you, the readers, think of the stories that feature here.  Please join in by adding your comments below the regular news roundup postings.

Two brothers who died from shotgun wounds in a supposed suicide pact asked neighbours to witness their wills in the days preceding them taking their own lives.  Jack and Bob McIlwain (71 and 73 years old respectively) of Edinburgh were said to have suffered severely from pulmonary fibrosis after being exposed to asbestos.  The brothers had no other family and Bob had been finding it more and more difficult to care for Jack.  Police sped to their Edinburgh home after a phone call from one of the brothers who threatened to kill himself and found the men’s bodies in their cottage home.

Meanwhile a Paisley-based asbestos removal company was fined more than £100,000 for exposing workers to dangerous asbestos fibres while demolishing a former school building.  The Angus Group was found guilty at Lincoln Magistrates’ Court of eight breaches of the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2006, having ignored recommendations that the spray coating of asbestos in the school’s main hall should be removed by a licensed contractor under safe, controlled conditions. The widow of an illustrator who died from asbestos related cancer is appealing to his former colleagues for information about his working conditions.

Terry McCarthy died at the age of 69 from mesothelioma following a ten month battle with gradually worsening symptoms.  Terry’s job as a technical artist for a technology company involved taking home appliances to his office to draw illustrations of the parts.  The technology company’s factory was based in a former hangar at old Croydon Airport and was supposedly notorious for asbestos dust.  Legal firm Irwin Mitchell is looking for information about the presence of asbestos within the factory and thee working conditions faced by employees there.

A Battersea building company was fined after failing to highlight the known presence of asbestos insulating board (AIB) at a Berkshire warehouse.  A foreman and other employees were exposed to potentially lethal fibres when the AIB was ripped out during refurbishment work.  Despite being in possession of a detailed asbestos survey that identified the location of the asbestos panels, Redwood Contractors Ltd did not share the survey with the team on the ground.  Reading Magistrates’ Court fined the company £10,000 with £2,857 costs after the firm pleaded guilty to two separate breaches of the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2006.

Teachers in the UK have been told to stop using Second World War gas masks and helmets from the First World War because they could contain asbestos.  The artefacts are used as a teaching aid for pupils learning about the Home Front in history classes.  A letter sent out to schools in the UK from the Health and Safety Executive has said that the artefacts should be double bagged in plastic and taped shut before being labelled and stored securely while arrangements are made for disposal through a licensed disposal site or by a licensed contractor.