A Hampshire man has received £110,000 in compensation after developing lung cancer, caused by decades of exposure to asbestos.
The 77-year-old Unite member worked as a mechanical fitter at a power station in 1962, repairing and replacing damaged pipework that was covered in asbestos. As a result of poorly ventilated areas, he would breathe in the asbestos dust and it would settle on his hair and clothes.
During this employment he was never provided with any protective equipment, such as a mask.
He was also exposed to asbestos at another power station between 1977 and 1990. During this time, the dangers of asbestos were known and his employer provided protective equipment for its workers. He also took a role as a supervisor to encourage colleagues to follow the company’s strict asbestos handling guidelines.
After suffering with a persistent chest infection in 2015, medical investigations revealed he had a partially collapsed lung caused by asbestos-related lung cancer.
He contacted Unite Legal to investigate a compensation claim on his behalf.
He said: “Before I became ill I was a keen cyclist, but my health has deteriorated to the point where I can’t do general housework, let alone physical activities.
“Looking back on my career, I would often work long shifts in dirty conditions. I can remember taking off my overalls and shaking off the asbestos dust before putting them into my locker, ready to wear again the next day.
“I am still coming to terms with my illness but the help I have received from Unite Legal Services has been invaluable – I can’t thank them enough. Although I’ve known about the very real dangers of working with asbestos for years, it still didn’t prepare me for the shock of being diagnosed with lung cancer.”
Michelle King, Unite South East regional officer for the Energy and Utilities sector, said: “By the time our member was educated about the risks of working with asbestos, he had already been exposed for more than 10 years.
“It is unacceptable that he was expected to work in poorly ventilated and dusty areas for so long, with no protection to prevent him from being exposed to the deadly substance in the first place.
“Through his membership of Unite, we were able to provide expert legal advice, securing medical reports that proved his cancer was a result of working with asbestos and a six-figure compensation settlement.”