According to figures held at the Royal Courts of Justice, the number of asbestosis claim cases has more than doubled from 574 in 2007 to 1,164 in 2010, with a total of 381 cases processed just in the 6 month period January – June 2010, alone.

While doctors, medical researchers and epidemiologists (who study patterns of diseases or health risks) continue to see a rise in both asbestosis and mesothelioma claim numbers, it often seems that the fight to obtain justice for the victims of asbestos-related disease is impeded by either court rulings or subsequent government actions breaking their proposal promises.

The most recent example has been the government’s apparent quiet abandonment of a £400million “fund of last resort” to aid former employees and their asbestosis lawyers in the often difficult process of tracking down former company employers whose premises or working conditions regularly exposed their staff to the fatal asbestos fibres.

Despite the growing asbestos awareness to the grave health risks faced by many thousands of men and women exposed to the use of the mineral in many manufacturing, engineering and construction industries across the north of England, the Midlands and the shipbuilding yards of the south east, legislation was extremely slow in coming and factory employers often chose to take little notice or limit information available to their workforce.

As a result of an almost uninterrupted use of asbestos up until the late 1970s early 80s and a final ban on white asbestos(chrysotile) in 1999, there are still a significant number of men and women who today, still suffer from original exposure to asbestos at work or through ‘secondary exposure’ at home.

The exceptionally long period of between 15 to 50 years before the first asbestosis symptoms appear, almost inevitably means the disease has advanced to a late stage and survival rates can range from as little as 4 months to 2 years.

Despite the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) reporting that fatality figures for all asbestos-related deaths have not been sufficiently recorded, it has been recently estimated that between 1968 and 2010, the total number of deaths from all diseases caused by asbestos exposure, including mesothelioma, asbestosis and asbestos-related lung cancer, could be over 110,000.

Currently, there are over 2,000 diagnosed cases of mesothelioma alone recorded each year in the UK with the number of deaths risen from 153 in 1968 to 2,249 in 2008. It is forecast that the legacy of widespread asbestos use in the twentieth century is set to continue with a further 45,000 mesothelioma deaths expected by 2050.