Settlement over death of UK teacher highlights risk of mesothelioma

Settlement over death of UK teacher highlights risk of mesothelioma

The family of a teacher in the United Kingdom who died from mesothelioma has won a settlement over the asbestos exposure she experienced at the school she taught at. The decision has also prompted warnings over the risk to the health and safety of staff and pupils at older schools.

Ms Healey worked at St Gabriel’s school between 1971 and 1980, and was diagnosed with mesothelioma in 2020, sadly passing away two and a half years later. The local council, Rochdale, failed to investigate whether the school contained asbestos during a national government audit of asbestos-containing sites because it had determined that no schools in its borough posed a risk.

As a result, the council initially denied liability for the exposure until lawyers for Ms Healey found documents proving the school contained asbestos, which forced them to settle.

It was presented in court that in September of 1974, Ms Healey had prepared a new classroom during the summer, and she believed that the tradesmen working at the time had disturbed asbestos from the ceiling.

Legal council for Ms Healey from Leigh Day sent freedom of information requests to the borough council regarding the work, and while many of the records had been destroyed, the remaining information suggested that extensive asbestos removal programs had been undertaken since she left the school.

Legal partner for Ms Healey, Steven Dickens explained that the “issue of asbestos in schools has repeatedly been ignored and kicked into the long grass by successive governments. Cases such as this highlight the human cost of the mistakes made decades ago.

“Until the government fully audits the stock of school buildings nationwide, and takes proactive steps to prevent exposure to asbestos still present in those buildings, cases like this cannot be prevented.”

He explained that cases such as that of Ms Healey had become more frequent. He noted that for the safety of employees, students and the general public, it was essential that councils improved record-keeping to ensure there was no confusion over the presence of asbestos.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

div#stuning-header .dfd-stuning-header-bg-container {background-image: url(;background-color: #000000;background-size: cover;background-position: top center;background-attachment: initial;background-repeat: no-repeat;}#stuning-header {min-height: 650px;}