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Council’s first cancer claim

A FORMER plumber in Bognor Regis has become the first person to claim against a council for allegedly contracting a cancer at work.


The man used to work for Arun District Council and says the duties involved being exposed to asbestos which had caused him to contract mesothelioma. Nigel Lynn, the district council’s chief executive, said: “I can confirm that Arun District Council has received a claim from a former employee for the contraction of mesothelioma.


“The claimant worked as a maintenance plumber between or around 1970/71 and 1980.


“And the allegation is that of exposure to various asbestos-related materials in the course of his duties.


“It is too early in the claim process to be able to make any estimate of likelihood of success or financial liability.”


News of the claim was briefly reported to councillors last week. The claimant was based at the Ockley Road depot of the council during the period stated in his claim.


Mesothelioma is a type of cancer that develops in the lining that covers the outer surface of some of the body’s organs. It is usually linked to asbestos exposure. Asbestos is a group of minerals made of microscopic fibres that was widely used in construction. Information on the NHS Choices website states: “These tiny fibres can easily get into the lungs, where they get stuck, damaging the lungs over time.


“It usually takes a while for this to cause any obvious problems, with mesothelioma typically developing more than 20 years after exposure to asbestos.


“The use of asbestos was completely banned in 1999, so the risk of exposure is much lower nowadays. However, materials containing asbestos are still found in many older buildings.


“Unfortunately, the outlook for mesothelioma tends to be poor.


“This is because it doesn’t usually cause any obvious symptoms until late on and it can progress quite quickly once it reaches this stage.”


The Health and Safety Executive reports annual deaths from the cancer have increased steeply in the past 50 years because of the widespread industrial use of asbestos from 1950-80.


It caused about 2,500 deaths yearly between 2012-14. This level is expected to continue until the end of this decade. The website of Macmillan Cancer Services says people most likely to have been exposed to asbestos at work include plumbers, electricians and boilermakers. “As these jobs were mostly done by men, mesothelioma is five times more common in men than women,” it says.

Posted in Council, News.