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UK unions call in cancer expert over fears of asbestos risk to female teachers

Still Waters

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Posted (IP: Staff) ·

The threat of asbestos-related cancer to female teachers is to be examined after possible signs of an elevated risk of fatal illness.

Trade unions are to work with one of the country’s leading cancer experts on a study of the exposure women in their late-40s to mid-60s may have had to the material inside school buildings. It comes after researchers detected a possible increase in mesothelioma deaths among the group that could be statistically significant.

Official data has already shown that female former teachers born from 1935 to 1954, working when asbestos was still being installed in schools, have a 40% increased rate of mesothelioma, a cancer related to asbestos exposure that affects the lining of lungs. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) reported more than 5,000 asbestos-related deaths in 2019 across the population as a whole, including from cancers like mesothelioma.


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Posted (IP: Staff) ·

Family wins settlement in claim over teacher’s asbestos cancer death

The family of a teacher who died of cancer due to asbestos exposure at her school has won a settlement, prompting warnings that staff and pupils remain at risk in older buildings.

Hazel Healey worked in St Gabriel’s school between 1971 and 1980, and died aged 73 in May 2022 after she was diagnosed with mesothelioma – which is nearly always caused by asbestos exposure – in October 2020.

Rochdale council failed to investigate whether St Gabriel’s school contained lethal asbestos during a government audit of the material because it determined no schools in the borough posed a risk.

The council initially denied liability, until lawyers instructed by Healey uncovered documents proving the school contained asbestos, forcing the council to settle in December.


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