MP Alice Mahon, who represented Halifax in West Yorkshire for 18 years, died from malignant mesothelioma in December 2022 as a result of asbestos exposure. Her son, Kris Mahon, is now calling for action and is campaigning to the government for the removal of the material from all UK buildings.
During her time as an MP, Mrs Mahon campaigned for asbestos victims and supported demands for public inquiries into the diseases that surfaced, mainly relating to former power industry workers.
In January, an inquest was told that Mrs Mahon was exposed to asbestos when she worked as an auxiliary nurse in a West Yorkshire hospital in the 1960s and 70s.
Mrs Mahon also had reason to believe that she was exposed during her 18 years in parliament since asbestos was identified in 680 rooms across the parliamentary estate, identified in surveys carried out between 2019 and 2022. Mrs Mahon’s son Kris says, “Every workplace, including such grand places as the Palace of Westminster, should be a safe place.
“The risks of asbestos are so well known now, and have been for decades, that steps to identify and remove asbestos from all workplaces should have been completed by now.
“At the very least, there should be a detailed audit to determine the risks, which can no doubt be done alongside other refurbishments.”
Asbestos is carcinogenic, meaning inhaling its fibres can lead to cancer, such as mesothelioma and other hazardous lung conditions. Before its prohibition in 1999, asbestos was extensively employed as a construction material for roofs, insulation, walls and floors.
According to the Health and Safety Executive, provided that asbestos is in good condition and is not disturbed, there is negligible risk. However, if asbestos is disturbed, it can become a danger to health if fibres are released into the air and breathed in.
Ever since the real risks of exposure surfaced, there have been consistent calls for nationwide asbestos removal from the families of many victims of asbestos-related diseases. In addition, many charitable organisations have also campaigned extensively, and Trade Unions claim that the government is putting lives at risk by not removing the substance.
Mrs Mahon and many other MPs have been campaigning for more action to eliminate asbestos for years; however, removing all traces would be highly costly. The government rejected proposals outlined in a 2022 campaign to remove all asbestos from non-domestic buildings (around 300,000 UK buildings) within the next 40 years since they argued that the substance is safe if undisturbed.
In April 2023, there was a parliamentary debate about asbestos being present in the workplace. Sky News contacted the Department for Work and Pensions and later spoke to the Health and Safety Executive. “Most people with asbestos-related illnesses will have been exposed before stringent regulations were introduced in 1999.
“The risk of asbestos exposure is low, as long as it remains undisturbed in a good condition and the regulations are followed.
“A rush to remove all asbestos from buildings would pose more risk than managing it safely or removing it during planned construction work. The current approach works towards removal from all buildings in a safe, staged way.” Read the full BBC article here.
Solicitor for Asbestos Disease
Asbestos-related diseases, including asbestos-related lung cancer and mesothelioma, often do not present until decades after exposure. If you have been diagnosed with an asbestos-related disease, seeking the appropriate advice and guidance is essential.
At Bridge McFarland LLP, we will do all that we can to ensure you obtain the support and compensation you deserve. To speak to one of our specialist solicitors about your claim today, please call 0800 987 8800 or email email@example.com.
For further information, you can visit our dedicated Asbestos Awareness website for detailed information about asbestos-related disease and helpful advice.