30 March 2015

Families ’infected’ by asbestos

Several women from Northern Jutland, who had a husbond, father or son working with asbestos, have been diagnosed with mesothelioma caused by the men’s work. The Minister for Employment, Henrik Dam Kristensen, rejects the possibility that the women can receive worker’s compensation.


Several women from Northern Jutland, who had a husbond, father or son working with asbestos, have been diagnosed with mesothelioma caused by the men’s work. The Minister for Employment, Henrik Dam Kristensen, rejects the possibility that the women can receive worker’s compensation. That is indecent towards the victims, says The Danish Cancer Society, who disagree with the Minister’s interpretation of the law.
 
An investigation lead by Aalborg University Hospital has shown that 11 women from Northern Jutland, who were diagnosed with mesothelioma, had a husband, father or son who worked with asbestos at the now closed site of Dansk Eternit Fabrik, or at the shipyard in the city of Aalborg. According to the investigation, the cause of the women’s cancer is the men’s work with asbestos which has been brought home to the families e.g. on the mens’s clothes.
 
Men who develop mesothelioma caused by their work with asbestos are eligible to worker’s compensation, if the disease is found to be due to a work-related injury. The Danish Cancer Society find, that the spouses or cohabiting partners of men working with asbestos should also be covered by the law defining worker’s compensation. But this has been rejected by the Minister for Employment, Henrik Dam Kristensen, in a letter adressed to The Danish Cancer Society.
 
The Minister for Employment argues, that it is ’a basic principle’ in the worker’s compensation law that it is ’limited to compensating people, who are injured at work or who fall ill as a direct consequense of their work’
 
New knowledge should be cause for change of law
The Minister for Employment calls it an ’invariable principle’ but this is disputed by Natasja Espeløv Balslev, lawyer and special adviser at The Danish Cancer Society. 
 
– The principle has all ready been dispensed with on two occasions, so that both children and assisting spouses are now included by the worker’s compensation act. The law has been altered as new knowledge has been gained, and it is possible to do this again, says Natasja Espeløv Balslev.
 
CEO of The Danish Cancer Society, Leif Vestergaard Pedersen, calls the rejection unfair and calls for The Minister for Employment to reevaluate the law. 
 
– The new knowledge about the families of the men working with asbestos, reveals a hole in the law and this should be corrected as soon as possible. We are dealing with a group of women who are innocently harmed by the work of their husband or son. It is unfair if they are not eligible for compensation, says Leif Vestergaard Pedersen.
 


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