The widow of a Unite member who died after developing an asbestos disease has received £145,000 in compensation with the support of Unite Legal Services.
The member, who worked as an inspector at a site in Cheshire that manufactured aeroplanes and parts from 1956 to 1991, was exposed to asbestos dust when working near aeroplanes that had sections insulated with the material. As he would check the aeroplane parts, asbestos would be inadvertently disturbed, causing him to breathe in the dust.
He was never provided with protection from the dust and was not warned about the dangers of working with asbestos.
After developing neck pain he visited his GP, but the pain quickly worsened and spread to his chest. Weeks later, this pain was found to have been caused by the asbestos-related lung disease, mesothelioma. Tragically, he died the day after diagnosis.
The member’s wife contacted Unite Legal Services on behalf of her husband to make a compensation claim.
She said: “One minute my husband was happy and healthy, the next we were having to cope with his loss. I couldn’t believe how quickly the disease took hold. It was horrible.
“He devoted 35 years of his life to the company, yet not once did it think to warn him – or his colleagues – about the damage asbestos can cause if you work with it unprotected. I feel like my husband was completed failed by those who should have looked after him.
“I feel fortunate that he was a member of Unite. They offered me support, putting me in contact with Unite Legal Services, so that we could make a compensation claim and understand how he came about to develop this horrible disease.”
Mick Whitley, North West regional secretary at Unite the Union, said: “Asbestos exposure has affected the lives of countless people across the UK, and the number dying because of it is not set to improve until at least 2020. Even then, it will be decades until we see the end of asbestos-related diseases.
“While our member has sadly passed away, his wife was able to contact the specialists at Unite Legal Services to make a compensation claim and we ensured she found the closure she was seeking following her loss.”