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Remember the Dead, Fight for the Living – International Workers’ Memorial Day 2024

International Workers’ Memorial Day (IWMD), also known as International Commemoration Day (ICD) in some countries, is a day dedicated to remembering those who have lost their lives or suffered injuries due to their work. The day is remembered on 28th April every year.

At Hodge Jones & Allen we believe that every worker deserves a safe workplace -it’s not a privilege but a basic human right. Sadly, despite progress in health and safety regulations, too many workers still face preventable accidents and even fatalities on the job.

Silent Killer: Asbestos

Asbestos fibres present a significant danger, quietly claiming thousands of lives annually through diseases including mesothelioma, asbestos related lung cancer and asbestosis. Despite being banned in the UK since 1999, its harmful impact persists, underlining the necessity for strict regulations and improved management to shield people from inhaling asbestos dust.

For those who develop an asbestos related condition, it is often decades after their exposure to asbestos dust took place. Our clients today were often exposed to asbestos materials between the 1950s and 1980s. That previous exposure cannot be changed but current and future exposure to asbestos dust is wholly preventable.

Recent investigations into asbestos materials in public buildings have uncovered its extensive presence in our daily environments including in hospitals, surgeries and office blocks. This threat isn’t confined to traditional industrial sectors but affects a variety of professions, including teachers, nurses, and office workers. Those in these roles may unknowingly work in close proximity to potentially cancerous materials that can cause incurable illnesses.

The Trades Union Congress (TUC) has stated that, alarmingly, 80% of NHS Trusts operate hospitals where asbestos is present, emphasising the urgent need to address this concealed hazard to stop current workers dying in the future from asbestos diseases.

Nellie Kershaw’s Journey: Catalyst for Workplace Reform

Nellie KershawIn remembrance of International Workers’ Memorial Day, we reflect on the legacy of Nellie Kershaw, whose tragic story epitomises the hazards faced by workers in the past century. Employed at Turner Brothers Asbestos, Nellie fell victim to asbestos exposure, leading to her diagnosis of asbestosis and subsequent passing in 1924. Denied both medical aid and compensation, her story highlights the struggles endured by many workers during that era. However, her untimely death spurred enquiries and paved the way for legislative action, ultimately resulting in the Asbestos Industry Regulations of 1931. Despite progress, it wasn’t until 1999 that asbestos was finally banned in the UK, emphasising the prolonged battle for workplace safety. Nellie’s story urges us to keep pushing for safer workplaces, no matter how long it takes, for the sake of workers today and in the future.

Continuing the Fight

We would like to honour all of those who have died due to work-related asbestos disease and remember there is still a long way to go to ensure our terrible asbestos legacy doesn’t continue into the future. At Hodge Jones & Allen we fight for justice every day and will continue to do so. International Workers’ Memorial Day is a dedicated day to “remember the dead and fight for the living” but we never forget that people are receiving a diagnosis of asbestos-related diseases every day.

Our Asbestos & Industrial Disease Team provides invaluable legal advice to victims and their families, ensuring that they receive the justice and compensation they deserve. By seeking legal assistance, victims can hold accountable those responsible for their suffering and pave the way for safer workplaces for future generations. We will explore every single possible avenue with you and we act on a “no win, no fee” basis with no hidden charges.

For more information, contact our legal experts on 0330 822 3451 or request a callback.

The author of this article is Khushi Rao, Legal Clerk in the Asbestos Team.

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