Member compensated after terminal asbestos disease diagnosis

Unite Legal Services has helped John to secure a six-figure settlement after asbestos exposure during his career led to him to developing mesothelioma in later life.

The 88-year-old was exposed to asbestos from 1945 to 1950, and between 1952 and 1981, while working for the same chemical manufacturer in Cheshire.

John would work near boilers insulated with asbestos lagging, and would also handle asbestos on valves and pipes. Despite the risk to his health, he wasn’t given breathing equipment and the area was not ventilated, meaning he would breathe in the dust.

After suffering breathing difficulties many years later, John went to his doctor. X-rays and other tests found he has developed mesothelioma, an asbestos disease. Through his Unite membership, he was able to access legal guidance from Unite Legal Services and secure compensation.

His son, Mark, said: “Even into his 80s, my dad was fit and healthy, enjoying holidays abroad and getting out and about regularly. Within a few months, he deteriorated drastically. Now he cannot leave the house or walk unassisted. I’ve moved in to take care of him and my mum. It’s been a terrible ordeal for all of us.

“By the time my dad knew how bad asbestos was for his health, it was far too late. He was exposed to the deadly substance for years on end by an employer that should have known better, routinely failed to protect him. You begin to wonder just how many others who worked there are suffering in the same way.

“We are fortunate Dad is a Unite member, as without their guidance a legal claim would have been just too daunting for us at such a traumatic time.”

Ritchie James, North West regional secretary at Unite the Union, said: “John’s case is a tragic example of the serious implications poor health and safety procedures can have on a worker and their family. Sadly, his case is hardly rare in the UK. We have seen many members develop asbestos diseases after years, even decades, of exposure in the workplace.

“Being able to access free, specialist legal advice has meant that John has been able to secure the maximum compensation possible, without any deduction for legal fees. This took away all the worry of bringing a claim, and the compensation gives John and his family financial security in the future, whatever happens.”