Caven blog

Legal professionals warn of industrial disease increase

Many workers exposed to dangerous substances at their workplace risk contracting industry-related diseases, which may go unnoticed for many years. Some legal professionals have recently seen a small but steady rise in the number of bladder cancer cases brought by former workers who were exposed to carcinogenic chemicals in the 1950s and 60s.

The discovery is making some legal professionals draw parallels to when many workers were discovered to be suffering from asbestosis. This led to a sharp increase in the number of negligence claims brought by employees, who had worked with substances containing asbestos such as isolation materials, against their employers and manufacturers.

Many industry-related diseases are difficult to discover as symptoms may not start developing until several years after the disease was actually contracted.

Pauline Chandler, solicitor at Pannone, has reported that the firm currently has 20 ongoing cases compared to none a few years ago. She said, “My fear is that workers in a number of industries, including the chemicals sector, paint production, rubber manufacture and pigments and dye stuffs production, will develop cancers and be unaware that they are related to their past employment.”

In the 1950s and 60s health and safety regulations were not as stringent as they are today. As such, industry workers were often exposed to dangerous fumes and seldom wore protective clothing.

Chandler highlighted that it was important for health professionals to act swiftly when they came across a patient with cancerous symptoms. “The medical profession have a major role to play here, in that they are the first point of contact with patients who develop symptoms and obviously the clinical aspects must take priority.”

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