National Federation of Builders lobbies Department of Work and Pensions to ensure builders are not left open to liabilities

Source: Avlxyz

Construction employers are lobbying to be represented in a government asbestos compensation scheme that could award around £30m a year to mesothelioma victims.

Legislation drawing up the compensation scheme passed the House of Lords last month and will be considered in the House of Commons when parliament returns from recess.

The bill makes provision for a technical committee to be set up to arbitrate on the eligibility of mesothelioma cases, which is likely to include representation from the Association of British Insurers and victim groups.

The National Federation of Builders (NFB) is lobbying the Department of Work and Pensions, which will administer or delegate the running of the scheme, to ask that employers be represented, in order to ensure builders are not unfairly left open to liabilities which should be covered by the scheme.

The scheme will award compensation to mesothelioma victims who have contracted the disease from exposure to asbestos at work, but are unable to identify a liable insurer or employer due to the long period between the disease’s contraction and diagnosis.

The effects of mesothelioma, a type of cancer that develops in the lining of internal organs, peak 30 to 40 years after contraction, leading to late diagnosis of victims.

Mesothelioma victims are often unable to identify a liable employer or insurer as the organisations may no longer exist in the same form or at all, or full records may not have been kept.

Paul Bogle, policy manager of the NFB, said it was important mesothelioma victims were properly compensated, but said the proposals, if properly overseen, could also address current imbalances, such as “last man standing actions” where a victim takes action against just one of many companies because it is the only company left operating.

In a high-profile case, revealed by Building, two ex-bosses of architect RMJM are facing court action over their role in the asbestos poisoning of a former employee, which could cost £1.25m.

The legislation, the Mesothelioma Bill, is designed to help in cases such as these.