£177,900 is a significant amount of money to win in compensation even if it took 4 years to achieve. But death from mesothelioma is a terrible way to die. Mary Costello, whose husband, John, had spent five years removing asbestos from pipes and boilers at Buckingham Palace with no protective face mask, had waited since his death in 2001 for her victory in the High Court on 4 May 2005. The payout is believed to be the biggest asbestos related compensation to date in the UK and puts the Palace case at the head of the payout list based on value.
The case illustrates that, even if very slowly, the current legislation for control of asbestos at work is making an impact on some high profile organisations. It is a pity, that in the case of the Palace, we were only invited to submit a tender for our solution some 15 months after the death of John Costello. Although a case of shutting the door after the horse had bolted, it does illustrate the sensitivity of the issues even if, regrettably, it made no difference to the Costello family.
There is a lesson here for less high profile organisations and their 4 million duty holders throughout the UK's business world. It is that they need to embrace the legislation before the next asbestos related case becomes a reality for someone, somewhere in the workplace. You can be assured that the HSE, and in the case of the Palace at least, the TGWU will be amongst the first organisations to hear about it. Unsurprising, the HSE and the Unions both seem to have enormous tenacity and patience in dealing with the litigation as well.
According to the TUC's weekly updates issued 31 May 2005, Britain is one of the worst hit countries in the world for asbestos deaths, a global epidemic currently claiming at least one life every five minutes. Cases are so commonplace in the UK these days they only merit a few lines in local newspapers.
Inquest reports this week include a Stourbridge man who died from asbestos exposure after working as an electrician at a pig farm, where he drilled holes through the asbestos cement roof. Geoffrey Norris died aged 65 on 19 January; at Dudley Coroners Court, Black Country Coroner Robin Balmain recorded a verdict of death by industrial disease. Retired builder John Dickerson, 73, died from the asbestos cancer mesothelioma on 7 April, Derby Coroner's Court heard this week; deputy coroner Dr Turlough Farnan recorded a verdict that he died from the industrial disease of malignant mesothelioma caused by exposure to asbestos.
If you are not sure if you do or do not have the appropriate processes in place to deal with Health & Safety legislation, you may like to try our on-line questionnaire. Access to the questionnaire is free of charge and may help you identify a route to avoiding the litigious route that almost inevitably follows when things go wrong. You can find the questionnaire at www.aisolutions.co.uk/questionnaire.
The consultation stage of the review of the CDM regulations being orchestrated by the Health & Safety Executive is now past the half way stage. The HSE web site is running an interesting discussion forum on its web site at http://consultations.hse.gov.uk/.../messagelistthreads. Anyone who is a designer (that's just about everybody?) or is otherwise involved in the delivery of projects with a CDM input is sure to find the discussion interesting. But, please get moving as you have only until the end of July to make your views known.
Ai Solutions are taking steps to ensure that all their customers who have their ToolKit CS™ or the older ToolKit™ 2000 CDM Management products will continue to have them linked to the current legislation. This will be particularly important in 2006 as the revised CDM Regulations become Law. We have undertaken to provide our customers with software revisions that take account of the changes at least by the time the legislation takes effect. We have a good track-record in this regard. When the ACoP was revised in late 2001, we managed to provide our customers with the required updates several days before the HSE were able to deliver their new publication. We hope to do the same this time round as well!
If you are considering your options as far as CDM Management software is concerned, you need to ensure that your chosen supplier is both willing and able to support you in this way. Unless, that is, you want to be left with outdated processes and procedures in place. We are always willing to help customers to migrate from other solutions where this is appropriate.
Our next Major Accounts Review Meeting will be held at Transport for London on 16th June 2005. The meeting allows users and senior management to discuss how our products and services are being deployed and the plans to enhance them. Many organisations are critically aware that 'communication' is central to successful management information systems. The ongoing debate is about how the ToolKit™ Compliance Systems can be further enhanced to add even more benefits to the process. We are therefore very interested in getting users and prospective users into the same forum. If you are interested in attending this one, please contact us.
Our next Partners Meeting is due on 13th September 2005 at Leighton Buzzard. The meetings are currently aimed at customers offering an asbestos survey service, or management services for the CAWR 2002 - Duty to Manage Asbestos In the Workplace. Attendees are exploring better ways to gather asbestos data, input it into management systems and to deal with the onward management of the information for use by their own staff, their customers and their customer's suppliers. This is an ongoing and in many respects tantalising task. The route to goal is strewn with abandoned solutions including many handheld devices and so called software solutions.
The predominance of paper based solutions is a salutary reminder that IT has not yet found all the answers. At Ai Solutions, we like to think that we have done better than most and look forward to reporting our successes to you as the Partners Meetings progress.