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Mesothelioma compensation could cost £100,000 a year, says ESS

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A COMPENSATION scheme for sufferers of an incurable disease caused by exposure to asbestos could cost about £100,000 a year, Employment & Social Services has estimated.

Employment & Social Security member Deputy Shane Langlois with the committee’s president Michelle Le Clerc. (Picture by Sophie Rabey, 27911646)

In November last year, deputies agreed that from 1 January 2021 there shall be a statutory scheme of compensation for Bailiwick residents who have been diagnosed with diffuse mesothelioma following exposure to asbestos in the Bailiwick.

The campaign for the scheme was led by Deputy Matt Fallaize, who said the island had a strong case for such an arrangement.

Employment & Social Security was directed to develop legislation and policies necessary to establish such a system, which will be along the lines of the compensation scheme recently introduced in Jersey.

Deputies will now be asked to approve a policy letter which will be laid before the Assembly, outlining how a mesothelioma payment scheme could be implemented from January 2021.

The proposed scheme is a close copy of similar schemes now in place in Jersey and the UK and will enable lump sum compensation payments to be made to sufferers of mesothelioma, or to their surviving family.

Based on medical information, ESS estimated that about three payments will be made per year on average at a total cost of around £100,000 annually.

Compensation could be between £14,000 and £92,000.

Between 2005 and 2015, exposure to asbestos was the underlying cause of death in 19 cases and contributed to the death in a further four cases.

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In Guernsey, significant quantities of asbestos-containing materials were imported in the last century for use in the construction of buildings and other structures. Considerable amounts remain.

So long as the material is in good condition and is not disturbed, it does not present a significant risk to health.

If the material is damaged asbestos fibres can be released into the air, resulting in a risk to human health when people breathe them in.

If asbestos-containing materials are in poor condition, simply working near to them may result in them being disturbed.

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ESS has addressed the lack of support for individuals who have contracted asbestos-related diseases and, due to its rapid and fatal progression, there is particular concern for those who have developed diffuse mesothelioma.

The committee has proposed an introduction of a payment for individuals who have contracted the disease through exposure in Guernsey and Alderney.

The claim must be made within a year of diagnosis or one year from the death if claimed by a dependant.

Zoe Fitch

By Zoe Fitch
News reporter

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