Unite member compensated after asbestosis diagnosis

A Hull man has secured a five-figure settlement after asbestos exposure has caused him to develop asbestosis. 

Unite the union member Charles Johnson was exposed to asbestos throughout his career while working as a maintenance fitter, first at a timber firm in the 1960s and 1970s, and later at a Hull-based manufacturer from 1975 and 1997. 

He would have to remove asbestos insulation to access pipework, causing him to breathe in dangerous fibres, as he was never given adequate breathing equipment. 

The 80-year-old said: “In my first job I was never once warned about asbestos. In my last few years of working before retirement my bosses started to acknowledge that asbestos could be dangerous, but their advice was very vague and didn’t lead to any changes in procedure.” 

Charles visited his GP when he began suffering breathlessness and a persistent cough. After a hospital referral and CT scan, it was found he had developed the lung conditions asbestosis and pleural plaques. 

He turned to Unite Legal Services for support with a compensation claim, who helped him secure £46,750. 

Charles added: “I’ve had to accept my diagnosis but I still find it distressing when I hear about asbestos, especially when it’s in newspapers and on TV. My whole body aches and even walking around my house causes me a lot of pain. 

“There’s been a lot of uncertainty for me and my family in recent years, but thankfully the experts at Unite Legal Services were there for me from start to finish. They have put me in touch with support groups and ensured my family has financial security in the future.” 

Karen Reay, North East, Yorkshire and Humberside regional secretary at Unite the Union, said: “Our member has had his life turned upside down because of his asbestos disease. He was put at risk by his employers for decades and he is now suffering as a result. 

“We are pleased that we were able to support Charles and ensure he secured the maximum compensation possible. Because he pursued his claim through his union membership, he was able to keep 100 per cent of his compensation.”