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Damages payout for engineer who developed mesothelioma
A former engineer who developed mesothelioma more than fifty years after he was first exposed to asbestos, has received £113,000 compensation in an out of court settlement.
Industrial disease specialist Lesley Mynett said the pensioner, who began working in a local forge when he was just 15, developed the painful cancer because of exposure to high levels of asbestos during the course of his work.
"He was first employed in the forge for just over 10 years, initially as a furnace man before he moved into the maintenance department," said Miss Mynett, an associate with Fentons Solicitors LLP. "The furnaces were large - about 3ft wide, 6ft high and 4-5ft deep," she said. "Each furnace was surrounded by a guard, made with an outer shell of asbestos which had been compressed between two perforated sheets."
Miss Mynett explained how a sliding door - made from the same asbestos material - would be regularly opened and closed as the men operated the furnace. "The heat and flames from the furnace would dry out the asbestos in the sliding door and make it brittle," she said. "As my client and his colleagues slid the door across the furnace, it was so dry that bits of asbestos would often break away."
She said the sliding doors needed to be replaced when they became too brittle and broken to perform the task they were designed for. "The door would be replaced by a piece of asbestos, newly cut by the maintenance department," she said. "No masks were provided to the workers and so any dust and fibres breaking from the sliding door would be in the air, and inhaled by the furnace men working in close proximity.
"There was also a fan above each furnace, which would blow air downwards in order to blow the oil into the middle of the furnace flame," she said. "This made the atmosphere very, very dusty and this fan would just keep blowing the dust around and around."
Miss Mynett said her client continued to be exposed to asbestos following a move to the maintenance department. "In his new role, my client was now responsible for actually cutting the new asbestos covers for the sliding doors of the furnace," she said. "Another job he would undertake involved patching up the existing asbestos guards around the furnaces. Asbestos was everywhere."
Miss Mynett, who for many years has worked with sufferers of industrial diseases, said the case acted as a stark reminder of the legacy of asbestos. "It is widely documented that even the smallest level of exposure can lead to mesothelioma, but for the work someone did more than five decades ago to lead to the cancer in this way is desperately sad," she said. "All this man did was go to work."
Miss Mynett said she was particularly pleased with the speed the claim had been settled. "I was only instructed in this case in October 2009, but was subsequently able to agree damages without the need for a trial," she said.
Miss Mynett negotiated a settlement of £113,000 in April 2010.
How can Fentons Solicitors help?
Fentons has a specialist department experienced in handling claims for victims of industrial diseases including asbestos-related lung cancer and mesothelioma.
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.
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