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Asbestos rule brings sunburn claims fear

NEWS - Lords decision on suing several employers prompts warning to provide lotion

CONTRACTORS could face massive compensation claims from burnt builders unless they warn construction workers to slap on the suntan lotion.

Insurance giant Aon is advising firms that employers' liability claims from workers suffering from skin cancer could be the 'new asbestos' in terms of payouts.

A spokesman for the insurer's specialist arm Aon Construction Direct said: 'As employers are legally responsible for the health and safety of their employees at work, sunburn is the next long-term threat to the industry whereby an employee could potentially claim negligence against their current or former employer years after the contract or employment has finished.'

The insurance experts believe a landmark asbestos ruling last month could put hundreds more contractors at risk of asbestos claims.

The spokesman said: 'The House of Lords ruled that where a worker was exposed to asbestos dust by several employers, he would have to seek a proportionate share of compensation from each.

'Previously, victims had been able to claim full recompense from one of several employers without having to prove which had caused the fatal exposure. This could have a knock-on effect for how sunburn claims are dealt with, leaving even more building companies at risk.'

Aon is urging contractors to take three important steps to protect themselves:

Remind employees of health and safety guidelines: sun protection must be at the top of the agenda alongside wearing hard hats, protective shoes and safe working at height etc

Provide suntan lotion on site every morning n Advise workers to wear protective clothing.

Nigel Geary, team leader for Aon Construction Direct, said: 'As temperatures soar this summer, builders need to think realistically about protecting their employees from the potential cancerous effects of working out in the sun all day. By including sun protection in your health and safety policy, you will be able to more effectively defend a claim if a former employee tries to prove negligence on your part for their illness.

'Larger building companies are more likely to have strict health and safety guidelines but it's the medium-sized and smaller businesses who are most at risk of facing big claims as they don't realise the need to impose these guidelines.

'It's easy to take the 'it'll never happen to me' approach but builders must tackle this long-term issue for the wellbeing of both their employees and their business.'