Leading trades union law firm Thompsons Solicitors welcomes the campaign launched today by Unite the Union to raise awareness about the dangers of asbestos exposure.

As part of its campaign, Unite has pledged to continue highlighting the hazardous effects of asbestos and will issue new guidance to safety reps on how to avoid exposure to asbestos at work, as well as providing support to members and families diagnosed with asbestos disease.

Asbestos use was finally banned from the UK in 1999, but remains present in the buildings of many private and public sector workplaces. Employers have a duty to protect workers from the well-known risk of fatal disease caused by inhaling asbestos fibres.

More than 2,500 people are diagnosed with mesothelioma, a fatal asbestos-induced cancer, in the UK every year, bringing the total estimated annual asbestos related deaths to over 5,000, including lung cancer.

Head of asbestos litigation at Thompsons Solicitors, Ian McFall, said: “In the UK alone we have already witnessed the tragedy of 60,000 deaths from mesothelioma and a further 90,000 people are expected to die from the effects of past asbestos exposure.

“The UK has one of the highest rates of mesothelioma in the world; a damning legacy of employer negligence.

“Thompsons is proud to work closely with Unite Legal Services to support members and their families who have suffered the devastating effects of asbestos disease. Unite's campaign is vital to continue raising awareness about the dangers of asbestos, to protect workers from the risk of exposure and drive up workplace safety standards.”