Damages for worker exposed to asbestos during 1950s apprenticeship

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Damages for worker exposed to asbestos during 1950s apprenticeship

27th October 2013

An Essex man who developed asbestosis after he was exposed to asbestos whilst working as an apprentice in the 1950s, has received more than £47,000 in an out of court settlement.

Edmund Young, a specialist industrial disease lawyer at Fentons Solicitors LLP (left), said the retired father-of-one, who is in his 70s, began noticing he was having chest pains and problems with his breathing three years ago.

“After undergoing a chest x-ray in March 2011, my client’s GP asked him if he had ever worked with asbestos,” said Edmund, a partner at the firm. “When he explained that he had been exposed to asbestos more than 60 years ago he was referred for a series of tests which confirmed he was suffering with asbestosis, a chronic lung condition, as well as pleural plaques - which are areas of scar tissue on the membranes surrounding the lungs.

“After leaving school at the age of 15 in the mid 1950s, my client started a six-year apprenticeship for a Liverpool-based building firm as a painter and decorator,” he added. “His job involved working on a number of industrial sites and gas works, painting pipes and gas tanks.

“He worked alongside teams of pipe laggers whose job it was to strip away and replace asbestos lagging from all the pipework,” said Edmund. “This was extremely dusty work as the lagging had to be removed by hand using chisels and knives and because the environment was so cramped, there was no escape from the dust which would settle everywhere including in his hair and on his clothes and shoes.”

Edmund said his client worked within a few feet of the laggers in the same dusty and unventilated conditions for up to eight hours a day, four days a week. “At no point during his entire six year apprenticeship was he ever provided with a face mask or breathing equipment, and neither was he ever warned of the risks involved with working with asbestos,” he said. “It’s like his employers were either totally indifferent or just simply didn’t care about protecting the health of their workforce.

“He first noticed his health was failing when he began getting breathless whilst playing with his grandchildren,” he added. “At first he dismissed it and thought it was simply his lack of fitness. But when he started struggling to sleep and waking up out of breath he knew something was wrong. By the time he was diagnosed, he couldn’t walk up a flight of stairs without feeling breathless and any exertion left him exhausted.”

Edmund said that along with asbestosis and pleural plaques, his client was also suffering with emphysema and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. “Notwithstanding his other conditions, asbestosis is a gradually progressive illness for which there is unfortunately no cure.

“My client is a widow and has had to rely increasingly on his son to help with all his daily care,” said Edmund. “At present, he cannot even walk more than 100 yards and as his health continues to deteriorate, it is hoped the settlement he has now received will help provide him with all the care he will need in the months ahead.”

After liability was admitted, Edmund settled the case on behalf of his client for £47,144 in June 2013, including more than £21,000 in interim payments.

How can Fentons Solicitors help?
Fentons has a specialist department experienced in handling claims for victims of industrial diseases including asbestos-related illnesses.

If you think that you have a case or require further information contact Fentons on 0800 0191 297 or fill in the online claims questionnaire.