Labour Research (September 2012)

Health & Safety Matters

Cancer compensation

The government has finally announced a compensation scheme for all newly diagnosed victims of mesothelioma — the asbestos induced cancer of the lining of the lungs and other organs — that kills over 2,300 people every year.

Over 10% of victims currently receive no civil compensation — due to difficulties tracing their employers’ insurers. Employer’s liability insurance has been a statutory requirement since 1972, but prior to 1999 there wasn’t a central database recording which insurance firm indemnified which employer.

The new scheme will mean sufferers who cannot trace the employer and/or insurer responsible for the consequences of their exposure to asbestos, stand to benefit.

Once the new Employers Liability Insurance Bureau (ELIB) is up and running, all employers’ liability insurers will be made liable for a portion of the compensation due — amounting to around £25 to £30 million a year in total. As a result, the ELIB will provide around 3,000 mesothelioma sufferers with access to compensation. Unfortunately, the amount of compensation due per person may be reduced when a new tariff system is introduced.

Regrettably, the new ELIB scheme does not cover victims of other asbestos-related conditions, such as asbestosis. TUC general secretary Brendan Barber, while welcoming the new scheme, said that it “will provide no help to workers who develop other cancers or life-threatening diseases, and who find themselves with no means of claiming compensation”.

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