At Asbestos Justice, we believe there is a common misconception that no asbestos compensation can be recovered for asbestos related pleural plaques.
Whilst it is correct to say that asbestos compensation for plaques which do not cause respiratory symptoms is not available to sufferers in England and Wales, providing it is shown that the plaques are significant enough to leave the sufferer with a restrictive defect on lung function, an asbestos claim can be brought.
We have recently settled such a claim for Mr T who was diagnosed with pleural plaques with a restrictive defect on his lung function which led to him experiencing breathing problems, especially whenever he exerted himself.
A detailed witness statement was obtained from Mr T in support of his asbestos claim which confirmed that he had worked on a full-time basis for a company called L N Whiteley & Sons Ltd who were based in the Hyde area of Cheshire at the time.
In his statement, he confirmed that he always worked in a team of two or three and worked in several different factories around the country where he did come into contact with asbestos dust on a regular basis.
When visiting the various factories he attended on behalf of the company, he regularly had cause to visit boiler houses where asbestos lagging had to be stripped from boilers and pipework leading from them.
The asbestos lagging was white in colour and usually surrounded the boilers and pipes which we knew as “Lancashire Boilers”. He remembers it taking a around couple of days to strip the average boiler which they would then have to re-lag. He and his colleagues used various tools as well as their bare hands to remove the thick asbestos lagging which measured approximately three inches in thickness around the boiler. As they chipped away at the asbestos using their tools and also pulled it away using their bare hands, much asbestos dust would be released into the atmosphere which he and his colleagues could not help but inhale throughout the course of the working day.
Clouds of asbestos dust were visible in the general atmosphere and the white asbestos dust would cover Mr T and his colleagues from head to toe. It would cover their skin and hair and also make them sneeze and cough on occasion. It was a particularly dusty, hot and uncomfortable working environment during the times Mr T worked in the boiler houses.
This was only part of his job when working for the company. Another main part of his job involved having to re-lag the boilers and pipework which had been stripped previously. He remembers using bags of raw asbestos powder which would be poured into large containers to be mixed with water in order to create a paste like mixture. He also remembers another form of powder which was of a brown/grey colour being mixed with the asbestos to form the paste like mixture. He estimates that they used three or four bags of the material per container of water and he and his colleagues would then mix this with a type of paddle which was made out of wood. They would then smother the lagging mixture across the boilers and pipework which would then be set into place, similar to a papier-mâché type material. This in itself was extremely dusty and horrible work as when they poured the asbestos powder into the containers, much asbestos dust would billow up into the atmosphere which all of them inhaled throughout the course of the working day. The asbestos dust also covered the floor below them and as they walked through the areas where they worked, further asbestos dust would rise up into the general atmosphere which they all inhaled throughout the course of the working day.
Further evidence of exposure to asbestos was obtained in support of Mr T’s asbestos claim which confirmed that laggers would lag the boilers by hand until the thickness was reached. They would ensure that the lagging was approximately three inches in thickness to be set into place. Each boiler could take a few weeks to finish and one of the main places he can remember working at for the company was the Rubber Regenerating Company Ltd based in Trafford Park, Manchester as well as the Irlam Soap Works in Manchester. He also recalled visiting cotton mills in Wales and Scotland for the company who were heavily involved in the business of de-lagging and lagging at customers’ premises.
Throughout the course of the time he worked for the company, Mr T was never provided with any form of respiratory protection or gloves nor was he ever warned of the dangers of being exposed to asbestos materials during the course of his period of employment. He was never provided with any form of protective clothing and laundry facilities were never offered to him. Such failures were relied upon as proof of negligence in support of his successful asbestos claim.
Liability for the asbestos claim was admitted in open correspondence through the Defendant’s insurers on 11th August 2015.
Medical evidence was obtained from a well respected respiratory physician. This confirmed that Mr T had developed a restrictive defect on his lung function caused by his asbestos related pleural disease.
The medical expert added that Mr T had a risk of developing asbestos related mesothelioma in the future in the order of 3%. He also stated that there was a 2% risk of him suffering with asbestosis on account of his previous asbestos exposure. He also suggested that there was around a 10% possibility of his current condition deteriorating to leave him with slightly increased breathlessness of 5% more during his lifetime.
We were able to settle Mr T’s asbestos claim on a provisional damages basis, meaning that if he ever had the misfortune of developing asbestosis or mesothelioma, he would be able to return to us to pursue a further asbestos compensation claim.
We recovered an immediate award of asbestos compensation on Mr T’s behalf in the amount of £12,500.00 and his successful claim was dealt with in just over 12 months of receiving contact.
This asbestos claim shows that cases involving pleural plaques can be won, providing it is shown with the aid of supportive medical evidence that the condition has caused actionable damage in the form of breathing problems.
If you require assistance in pursuing an asbestos claim please contact us today on our freephone number 0800 038 6767. Alternatively, head over to the ‘Contact Us’ page, complete the form and we will be in touch.