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Cape Asbestos Company's Factory (Asbestosis)

Volume 344: debated on Wednesday 1 March 1939

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asked the Home Secretary how many people have died since 1931 who had worked at the Cape Asbestos Company's works at Barking, Essex, through inhaling asbestos dust; whether his attention has been drawn to an inquest, on Tuesday,21st February, on a woman who had died through inhaling the dust, who had not worked at the works since 1929; and what are the Home Office regulations in connection with this class of work?

Since 1931 there have been 39 deaths from asbestosis brought to the notice of the Factory Department where the worker had been employed at this factory. Great improvements have been made during recent years in the working conditions and, with one exception, all the cases were due, so far as can be ascertained, to exposure under the old conditions. The case referred to by the hon. Member was one of these. Special regulations, a copy of which I am sending to the hon. Member, were made for this industry at the end of 1931.

Is there any possibility of this class of work being scheduled? Is the Minister aware that there is no possibility of a man or woman who gets this disease recovering?

Does that mean that the regulations have practically eliminated this disease?

I would not like to commit myself to such a sweeping statement as that, but undoubtedly a very great improvement has occurred.

As I pointed out, they are thought to be almost all due to the conditions which existed before the regulations came into force, this being one of the diseases, like silicosis, which develops gradually.