National Asbestos Helpline Supports International Workers’ Memorial Day

Posted: 28th Apr 11 12:58 PM

Giving a Voice to Pleural Plaque Sufferers

Today is International Workers’ Memorial Day ‘Remembering the Dead – Fighting for the Living’ and the National Asbestos Helpline is adding its support to the campaign, fighting for the often forgotten victims of occupational illness, the sufferers of Pleural Plaques.

With the number of asbestos-related deaths since 1977 at more than 35,000(1) the National Asbestos Helpline (NAH) is urging sufferers of Pleural Plaques, which is an indicator of exposure to asbestos, to come forward and become a member of the Pleural Plaques National Register, which aims to give a collective voice to those suffering from the condition as a result of workplace exposure.

The call to action for Pleural Plaque sufferers coincides with the International Workers’ Memorial Day, which remembers those who have died as a result of workplace ‘accidents.’ As the ‘lag time’ between exposure and the development of asbestos-related disease averages between 30 and 40 years, and its difficult diagnosis, the workplace link is often missed – a ‘causal’ gap the Pleural Plaques National Register aims to bridge.

Richard Clarke general manager NAH commented: “Pleural Plaques, although benign in itself, does indicate exposure to asbestos and sufferers live in the shadow of fear. They are victims of unnecessary workplace exposure and have no voice, often suffering in silence, worried that they may go on to develop more serious illness such as terminal Mesothelioma. The Pleural Plaques National Register gives a large collective voice to these victims, connecting them with support through our network of charitable partners as well providing them with information to manage their health, directing them to their GP if their condition changes or they experience symptoms indicative of a different condition.”

“As the blue-collar workforce of plumbers, heating and ventilation engineers, painters and decorators and electricians ages the numbers of deaths due to asbestos-related Mesothelioma is increasing and we are yet to see the peak(2). Consequently, we are extending our campaign to all areas of the healthcare sector to recognise exposure to asbestos as a route to diagnosis – Doctors must start asking if a patient, who has a blue collar demographic, has been exposed to asbestos, and act accordingly. Only then will we get a true figure of the impact of this hidden killer and victims can get the support, care and in some cases benefits and civil compensation they rightly deserve.”

Those diagnosed with Pleural Plaques can join the Pleural Plaques National Register at

(1)  Health & Safety Executive Statistics 09/10

(2)  Deaths due to the asbestos-related cancer Mesothelioma continue to increase annually – a legacy of heavy asbestos use in the past.  2249 people died from Mesothelioma in 2008 and asbestosis was the underlying cause of 117 deaths. Of those 2249 Mesothelioma deaths in 2008 – 1865 were among men and that figure is predicted to increase to a peak of over 2000 men around the year 2016. Health & Safety Executive Statistics 09/10