A tariff scheme to compensate future mesothelioma victims where the liable employer or employers' liability insurer cannot be traced is being cautiously welcomed by the British Safety Council (BSC).
Under the new scheme, announced by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) and the Association of British Insurers (ABI), anyone diagnosed with mesothelioma from 25 July 2012 will be eligible to make a claim.
This will allow around 3,000 mesothelioma victims across the UK to receive approximately £300m in payments in the first 10 years.
Otto Thoresen, the ABI’s director general, said: "Mesothelioma is a particularly aggressive cancer and the insurance industry, working with government, is determined to do all it can to ensure that sufferers get the support they need as soon as possible. This package of measures will deliver help to claimants much faster, including to those who would otherwise go un-compensated.”
Exposure to asbestos can give rise to mesothelioma, lung, larynx and stomach cancer. Nearly 95% of all mesotheliomas occurring in Great Britain are attributable to occupational exposure to asbestos.
HSE estimated that 2,321 deaths attributable to mesothelioma occurred in 2009, the latest year for which statistics are available.
“It has been of serious concern to the British Safety Council and its members that an estimated 300 mesothelioma sufferers a year lose out on compensation because of the inability to trace the relevant insurer,” said Neal Stone, director of policy and communications for BSC.
“We, like many other organisations committed to preventing workplace injury and ill health, consider it imperative that government and all political parties find the time needed in a busy timetable to get the legislation enacted speedily. However, claimants suffering from asbestos-related lung cancer and asbestosis are excluded, and this continues to be a real worry.”
Tracey Crouch, Conservative MP for Chatham and Aylesford, said: "I am delighted that future sufferers of mesothelioma will be able to get the compensation they deserve and hopefully, as a result of these measures, in a time frame that will allow them to financially plan before they sadly pass away".
No payments will be made for an estimated two years while the necessary legislation is passed.