Posted on 16 Mar 2018
As Formula 1 cars get ready to fly around Albert Park next week, Slater and Gordon lawyers are warning rev heads and car enthusiasts to be wary when working on their cars at home – following a worrying new trend.
The firm’s asbestos lawyers are witnessing a rise in enquiries from former mechanics who were exposed to asbestos several decades ago after working with and replacing various car and motor parts containing the dangerous substance.
Senior Asbestos Lawyer Tracy Madden said that over the past two years she has seen a 200 per cent increase in the number of former mechanics who had sought legal support after being exposed to asbestos.
She said as a result of this recent increase it was also important for those working on cars in their own garages to be aware of this serious risk.
Asbestos-related diseases, such as mesothelioma, pleural disease, asbestosis and lung cancer, can develop up to four decades after the initial exposure.
Typically mechanics were exposed to asbestos when replacing brake pads and clutches and using compressed air to remove dust that had accumulated.
Ms Madden said that surprisingly asbestos was still being used in auto parts such as brake pads as recently as the early 2000s.
She speculated that a reason for the recent rise in enquiries was that around 40 years ago, society moved from one-car families to two-car families with many adding “that other run-around” vehicle.
“Because asbestos-related illnesses tend not to show for decades, we are only now starting to see and understand the real impact” Ms Madden said.
“As a result there is also a danger for people who work in their cars at home who are pulling these parts out of the car.
“It really doesn’t take a lot of exposure to asbestos for someone to potentially develop a life-threatening disease.”
Asbestos becomes a potential risk to health if fibres become airborne and are breathed into the lungs, potentially leading to a number of extremely serious conditions.
Anyone who believes they have been exposed can register their details on the firm’s National Asbestos Registers. The register allows people to document their exposure should it become necessary to refer to in the future.