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HEALTH and safety legislation means firms are now under strict instructions to dispose of asbestos safely when buildings are being demolished. But the deadly material was widely used in construction until the 1970s and there is a ticking timebomb for some workers who start to suffer from the effects of mesothelioma 30 to 40 years after retirement.

It is worrying to hear that national charity Mesothelioma UK believes Oxfordshire is a hotspot for potential cases and that the number of deaths are expected to peak between 2015 and 2020. That will be a concern for those who have worked in the car industry, construction or at industrial locations like Didcot power station.

Thousands of pensioners across the UK are dying each year as a result of exposure to asbestos, so it is only right that specialist nurses are being deployed to help families cope with the effects of mesothelioma, the most common form of asbestos-related cancer.

As families in Oxfordshire seek legal advice on whether they are eligible for compensation, they will welcome the specialist nursing support being offered by the charity, although one nurse may not be enough in the long term to provide the specialist support that families need. But it is a good start and the Churchill Hospital is the appropriate location for such specialist care.

Ignorance in the past has meant that workers’ lives are now tragically being cut short and employers must take every possible precaution to ensure that the same mistakes are not repeated.