Six-figure compensation secured for family of forklift driver

The family of an Essex man who passed away after developing an asbestos-related disease has secured £147,000 in compensation.

The Unite member worked as a forklift driver at a refinery in London from 1957 to 1963, where he was exposed to asbestos when colleagues stripped lagging off pipework.

The member also worked for a car manufacturer in the 1960s and 1970s and was again exposed to asbestos when maintenance work was carried out onsite.

Neither of his employers provided him with personal protective equipment (PPE) or warned him about the dangers of asbestos exposure.

When the member started suffering from chest pains and a build-up of mucus, he visited his GP who referred him to hospital for tests. It was found that he had fluid on his right lung and he was then diagnosed with the fatal asbestos-related disease, mesothelioma.

Sadly, he died, aged 72.

After his diagnosis, he contacted Unite Legal Services to investigate a claim for compensation.

His wife said: “I’m not sure what we would have done without his union. Thanks to its support, we were put in touch with a legal team who quickly began looking at his work history to see when and where he was exposed to asbestos.

“It was heart breaking to see my husband’s health deteriorate. The support from Unite Legal Services has helped us feel acknowledged for what we’ve been through.”

Peter Kavanagh, regional secretary at Unite the Union, said: “Although asbestos was banned in 1999, this case is a tragic example of how the widespread use of it decades ago still affects so many people to this day. Our member never worked directly with asbestos, but was in close proximity to it and this exposure was enough for him to develop a fatal disease.

“Specialist legal support meant that his work history could be investigated to see when he was exposed to asbestos, and witnesses could be contacted to build up the case. In addition to compensation for the family, a sum was recovered for the hospice that he stayed in to recognise the costs that were incurred for care that was required as a result of his former employers’ negligence.

“I am delighted that some acknowledgement has been made of the family’s suffering and loss, and that Unite has been able to ensure that justice has been done.”