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19 September 2023 | Comment | Article by Phoebe Osborne

Asbestos lawyers warn of RAAC dangers and call for urgent Government Action


Many of us will have seen in the news this week worries about the safety of “Reinforced Autoclaved Aerated Concrete” (RAAC) which is a lightweight construction material primarily used for flat roofing from the 1950s to the 1990s.

Like asbestos, RAAC was widely used as a relatively cheap building material without much thought to its longevity or safety. Similarly, like asbestos, the dangers about this product have now only become clear after buildings have collapsed, most recently at a school, endangering pupils and teachers leading the story to make the national headlines.

Phoebe Osborne, Senior Associate at Hugh James Cambridge comments:

“The issues with RAAC also affect other public buildings such as hospitals, offices, and domestic properties. In the East of England where she is based, many schools and hospitals including the James Paget, Queen Elizabeth Hospital King’s Lynn and West Suffolk Hospital, Bury St Edmunds all contain dangerous RAAC and asbestos in varying degrees of degrading condition, all potentially at risk of collapse”.

Asbestos lawyers and awareness campaigners across the UK who advocate on behalf of victims affected by asbestos-related illnesses are painfully aware of the dangers facing those working in buildings which are deemed structurally unsafe, furthermore there is now a real concern about the safe removal of RAAC.

Like the drive on asbestos removal in the 1980s, the removal of RAAC is highly likely to disturb asbestos which may have been installed at a similar time.

If comprehensive asbestos surveys and risk assessments are not prioritised, workers removing RAAC may be unaware of any pre-existing asbestos in the building. By removing one danger in RAAC, they may inadvertently be exposed to asbestos dust or expose others if poor RAAC removal methods are used.

Without proper investment, a kneejerk rush to remove RAAC could potentially lead to even more people needlessly suffering from asbestos-related diseases such as mesothelioma, terminal cancer caused by even low doses of asbestos exposure if potentially disturbed by untrained workers.

Sadly, the issue of ageing asbestos in buildings and now RAAC is not new. The problem is due to years of underinvestment. The UK government must now prioritise asbestos and RAAC removal from all public buildings as a matter of urgency to prevent future suffering, tackling those buildings worse affected, often in already deprived areas of the country.

The team of specialist lawyers at Hugh James are committed to Mesothelioma UK’s campaign “Don’t Let The Dust Settle” and it is anticipated this latest public health issue concerning RAAC and highlighting asbestos will remain at the forefront of Government Ministers attention as surveys to re-open those affected schools are prioritised.

Together we now strive to raise the profile of the national campaign to remove asbestos and other dangerous materials such as RAAC from all public buildings and collectively we view this latest revelation concerning building safety across the country as an urgent call to action.

If you’d like to speak to one of our specialist asbestos lawyers, please get in touch below.

Author bio

Phoebe joined Hugh James in March 2021 and is a Senior Associate in the specialist Asbestos team. Phoebe has acted solely for Claimants in asbestos disease litigation since qualifying as a solicitor in 2013. Since then, she has successfully obtained compensation for a significant number of patients following their diagnoses of mesothelioma, asbestosis, pleural thickening and lung cancer.

Disclaimer: The information on the Hugh James website is for general information only and reflects the position at the date of publication. It does not constitute legal advice and should not be treated as such. If you would like to ensure the commentary reflects current legislation, case law or best practice, please contact the blog author.

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