Asbestos warning for Ministry of Defence helicopter staff

Posted: 30th Aug 18 5:00 PM

Ministry of Defence staff who worked on Sea King helicopters are being warned they may have been exposed to asbestos, reports The Mail on Sunday.

The Ministry of Defence (MoD) is hurriedly removing parts suspected of containing the toxic material from many of its Sea King aircraft, which have been in use since 1969.

The Mail on Sunday reports thousands of engineers are thought to have been exposed to the potentially fatal asbestos dust while working on the Sea King helicopters.

An MoD spokesperson said the safety of personnel was their “highest priority”.

Pilots who have flown Sea Kings, including members of the royal family, are not thought to be at risk.

Past exposure to asbestos

The MoD now face the task of contacting personnel who would have worked on and maintained the Sea Kings since it came into service nearly 50 years ago.

“Any remaining items in service Sea Kings suspected to contain asbestos are being removed urgently and we are contacting those who may have been exposed in the past, detailing the actions they should take,” the MoD spokesperson said.

The ministry have also contacted foreign governments that bought the helicopters, as well as civilian organisations flying ex-military Sea Kings.

More than 5,000 people a year in the UK die from asbestos-related diseases, such as asbestosis, mesothelioma and asbestos-related lung cancers.

Mesothelioma is an incurable cancer, which develops predominantly in the lining of the lungs and the abdomen. Mesothelioma is caused in the vast majority of cases by exposure to asbestos dust and fibres.

The cancer is becoming increasingly more common. Figures from the Health & Safety Executive show that more than 2,700 people are diagnosed with pleural mesothelioma every year, and according to the Department for Work and Pensions 53,000 people will have died from pleural mesothelioma between 2013 and 2037.

Compensation and claiming benefits

If you are diagnosed with an asbestos-related disease, it may be possible to take legal action to claim compensation, as well as receive government benefits.

These claims aren’t about blame or a claims culture, but about what is right. You have worked hard all of your life and you are owed financial peace of mind so you can meet your own needs and prepare for your family’s future.

At the National Asbestos Helpline, we can investigate your eligibility to apply for compensation and benefits available for people diagnosed with an asbestos-related disease.

If you or a loved one is ever diagnosed with mesothelioma or another asbestos-related disease, don’t hesitate to get in touch with the National Asbestos Helpline. We’re here to help you with advice about your condition and how to cope with it, and can also advise on any benefits and/ or compensation you might be entitled to. Call us on Freephone 0800 043 6635, or email to get in touch.

Further reading

What is mesothelioma?

What is the mesothelioma compensation claims process?

Peace of mind with our expert asbestos solicitors

Emotional needs of people exposed to asbestos revealed by study