66-year-old Mr A worked for a chemicals company in Alfreton, Derbyshire from 1971 to 2005. The company made various products for use in the mining and civil engineering industries, including cement, grout materials, and car body filler materials. During his time there, Mr A worked in various positions at the company, including general operative, charge hand and line manager, and in various sections of the plant.
Exposure to asbestos at work
During the period 1971 – 1974, Mr A was exposed to large amounts of asbestos dust whilst working with a material called ‘belt seal’: a product used in the mining industry. This product had asbestos fibre mixed into it. Mr A scooped around five kg of the asbestos fibre into kegs from hessian sacks and stirred the mixture using a mixing blade. Clouds of asbestos dust were given off during this process. He also carried the 20 kg sacks of asbestos fibre from the store and then opened them with a knife, all the time being exposed to the dust from the asbestos in the sacks.
The asbestos covered Mr A’s overalls, hands and face. He brushed his overalls down with his hands during the day. At the end of the day, Mr A would sweep around the area where the asbestos had been used, clean the mixing machine and dispose of the hessian sacks.
No warnings about exposure to asbestos
Whilst the company at which Mr A worked provided overalls (three pairs per person), and had a system for washing them, it did not provide a mask and did not give any warnings about the dangers of exposure to asbestos. No dust extraction was provided.
Mr A started to experience breathing difficulties in 2011. He tried to soothe the symptoms using inhalers, which did not work, and he was referred to Chesterfield Royal Hospital, where he was diagnosed with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease(COPD). He was also suffering from heart problems in relation to atrial fibrillation.
Mr A continued with his treatment and in 2015 had an aortic valve replacement at Sheffield’s Northern General Hospital. He had to give up the job he was then doing at a company that made UPVC windows. In 2016, Mr A’s GP told him that he had pleural thickening. This was the first time he had understood that he was suffering from an asbestos-related condition.
Mr A’s symptoms continue, and he continues to receive treatment for his condition. He is short of breath, needs help with personal care and cannot walk far. He has had to stop doing the things he enjoyed, such as decorating, DIY gardening and playing crown green bowls. He contacted Graysons to see if he could claim compensation from his former employer for exposure to asbestos.
Graysons pursued employer for compensation
Belinda took up the case and contacted the employer, but liability was not immediately admitted, and Belinda had to issue court proceedings. After these proceedings were issued, the employer admitted liability and Belinda was able to negotiate a settlement, which was complicated. The employer instructed its own expert who disagreed with Mr A’s expert and said that not all of Mr A’s disability was due to the asbestos exposure. Mr A’s expert had said that a heart condition that he had suffered had resolved, but the employer’s expert insisted that he undertake a further echocardiogram before it was willing to have a joint meeting with Mr A’s expert.
Belinda was then able to negotiate a settlement of £180,000.
If you or a family member suffer due to exposure to asbestos, and you would like to know if you are able to claim compensation from your employers – even if that employer has now been taken over by another company, or has dissolved, please contact our experts who will be able to discuss the matter with you and let you know if you are able to claim.
You can also find out more making a claim for an asbestos-related disease on our web pages.