Welsh Employers Not Liable for NHS Asbestos Costs

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A Bill that was passed by the National Assembly of Wales in November 2013 has been overruled by the Supreme Court. The Recovery of Medical Costs for Asbestos Diseases (Wales) Bill was intended to recover from employers and insurers, the cost of treating asbestos-related diseases. It was hoped that the measure would raise around £1 million for the NHS in Wales.

The Association of British Insurers (ABI) questioned the powers of the Welsh Assembly to pass such a Bill, however, and stated their concerns about the implications for the insurance industry.

As a result, the Supreme Court has agreed that this new law was outside the remit of the Welsh Assembly, and has overruled it.

A spokesperson from the ABI further explained their concerns:

“The Welsh Bill would have seen increased insurance premiums for Welsh businesses but no extra compensation for Mesothelioma sufferers.”

Asbestos awareness and training

According to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), deaths from exposure to asbestos number around 5,000 each year. Although many are the result of historic contact with asbestos between the 1950s and 1980s, the substance may still be present in buildings constructed before 2000, and therefore represents a danger to everyone should it be disturbed.

Asbestos awareness training is now a legal requirement for anyone who might come across the substance during their normal course of work. At the height of its use, few warnings were provided or protective measures put in place for workers, with some families also suffering secondary exposure to asbestos.

Proposer of the Bill, Mick Antoniw, has not given up completely, however, and was quoted as saying:

“We will now have to study the judgement carefully and look at ways that it might be brought back to the Assembly in another form.”