Asbestos Justice are pleased to confirm that we have recently recovered mesothelioma compensation for a client who has been diagnosed with a rare form of the incurable asbestos related condition after suffering so called, “secondary asbestos exposure”.
The Claimant advised us that he started to lose weight over 2015 and experienced tiredness symptoms. He also started to suffer with flank and back pain from that point onwards. He went to see my GP who arranged blood tests initially and after this he underwent a CT scan at hospital. A few days later he was told that he had a tumour in the lining of his stomach and was referred to the Birmingham City Hospital for further tests including a biopsy procedure.
After the biopsy was taken in January of 2016, he was told for the first time that he was suffering with a rare asbestos related cancer known as peritoneal mesothelioma. More recently he underwent a further biopsy procedure during March of 2016 where a greater sample was taken which once again confirmed his diagnosis. Mesothelioma can often be difficult to diagnose but the histology in this mesothelioma claim did support his case.
The Claimant’s diagnosis came as a great shock to him and he continued to lose weight. He was previously a big man weighing over 30 stone but his weight decreased over time. He started to suffer with a lot of pain and his stomach bloated up significantly. .
Before being diagnosed with his condition, the Claimant was able to work as a bus driver but due to his serious symptoms he had to stop working in this role during January of 2016.
Thankfully, the Claimant has found his chemotherapy treatment of benefit in alleviating some of his terrible symptoms.
Asbestos exposure within the Claimant’s father’s fabrication shop
A statement was taken from the Claimant in support of his mesothelioma claim which showed that he had not knowingly suffered any direct exposure to asbestos when working in various roles in the past.
The mesothelioma claim could however be pursued against his late father’s former employer, John Thompson Limited/Rolls Royce PLC as a result of the Claimant suffering exposure to asbestos dust which was brought home by his father when returning home from work between 1965/66 and 1972 approximately.
We have been able located multiple witnesses who worked alongside the Claimant’s father for John Thompson (Pipework) Limited (part of the John Thompson Group of companies) at their Spring Road site in Ettingshall, Wolverhampton. Statements were obtained from the witnesses in further support of this most tragic of mesothelioma claims.
The witness explains that he worked with the Claimant’s father from around 1962/63 up until around 1972 approximately. They both worked in the same fabrication shop as fully qualified welders for John Thompson’s pipework division. The name of the shop they worked at was called the Lamont fabrication shop. They were involved in the manufacturing process on Lamont boilers and in particular Antler Pipes which formed part of the boilers themselves. Working on these pipes took up the majority of their time in the shop.
They worked full-time from around 8am until 5:30pm Monday to Friday and they also worked Saturdays in those days.
The fabrication shop they worked at was pretty large and measured over 100 yards in length by around 40 feet in width with a ceiling height of around 30 feet. There were windows within the fabrication shop but they were only really opened in the summer months according to the witness’s’ recollection. There was no forced ventilation system in place within the shop were they worked nor were there any vents in the apex of the roof.
John Thompson’s was a huge employer in the local area at the time and the business had many different divisions which all formed part of the same John Thompson’s group of companies. The witness believes that at one point the group of companies employed around 12,000 people at the Ettingshall site.
In their role as fully qualified welders, both the Claimant’s father and the traced witness would need to weld the pipes together and they would mainly work on creep resisting steel, suitable for high temperature applications inside the water tube boilers. To do this work they both made use of a number of tools such as welding torches, pre-heating torches and asbestos insulation blankets to slow down the cooling rate of the job after welding. They also used chipping hammers and grinders in their work together.
There were around 10 welders in total working in their section at any one time on average and they all completed similar tasks to one another throughout the course of the working day.
The asbestos blankets they used each day measured approximately 6 to 7 feet in width with a thickness of around one quarter of an inch and these were used to slow down the cooling rate of the job after welding. They would be kept in the corner of the fabrication shop and were not housed in any cupboard or storeroom. There were usually 3 or 4 blankets to be used on any one day and there were a greater number of blankets left in the corner of the shop for welders like them to use as and when required.
When working on the antler pipes they would need to use three blankets to cover parts of the weld for this purpose. When working on one pipe at a time, each pipe would need to be covered in one blanket and working on these pipes in particular was very dusty work.
The asbestos insulation blankets became damaged over time, leaving them in a brittle state and were very fibrous. They were white in colour. As part of the process of regulating the cooling process of the weld, both the Claimant’s father and the witness had regular cause to throw the asbestos blankets over the pipes. Some of the pipes including the antler pipes were very thick measuring around 3 feet in diameter and others were only about 3 inches in diameter. The antler pipes essentially had a number of pipes leading from them, similar to the branches of a large tree.
The blanket would essentially be hung like a saddle over the weld. As they completed the motion of throwing the blanket over the pipe, this resulted in much white asbestos dust being released into the atmosphere which they both inhaled. This dust covered their work clothes, hair and skin. It was visible in the atmosphere throughout the course of the working day. Puffs of the white asbestos dust would billow up into the atmosphere as they did this.
When the process of regulating the cooling down of the weld had started, more asbestos dust would rise up from the blanket, as the base was being exposed to high levels of heat. The top of the blanket would not be in contact with the hot weld and the white dust from the blankets rose up once more into the atmosphere covering their work clothes, hair and skin. They would need to repeat this process a few times per day on average. This varied depending on the type of pipes they were working on but for the vast majority of their time in the shop they would be working on the larger antler pipes.
If they were not working on the process of regulating the cooling down of the welds with the asbestos blankets, other welders within the vicinity would be and they would have cause to throw on the asbestos blankets over the various welds which resulted in further asbestos dust being released into the general working environment which covered their overalls, hair and skin. As a result of the other welders making use of the insulation blankets being exposed to high levels of heat, asbestos dust from the top section of the blankets would rise up into the atmosphere, before settling on all employees’ overalls, hair and skin.
The witness can clearly recall the asbestos fibres from the blankets both he and the Claimant’s father used, floating around in the general working environment. The air would be thick with the stuff. Sometimes it looked like it was snowing lightly. In the fabrication shops they always wore blue overalls and by the end of the working day these would be cover in various forms of dust and dirt including the asbestos dust from the asbestos insulation blanket work they completed. It was impossible to avoid being exposed to the asbestos dust which covered them from head to toe.
The witness advises that on average, an asbestos insulation blanket would be used for around 2 months in total before being replaced with a new one. If the asbestos layers became worn down, the blanket was useless for the purposes of regulating the cooling down of the weld. The asbestos insulation blankets were regularly being replaced with new ones to ensure that they were fit for purpose. The new blankets would have thicker layers of asbestos compared to ones that had worn down and when they first used the new blankets a great deal of white asbestos dust would be released as a result of completing the hanging and cooling regulation processes.
The conditions within the Lamont fabrication shop were always dusty and some of this dust was asbestos dust from the asbestos blankets they used day in day out.
The witness advises that around 5 to 10 per cent of their work in the shop involved working on welding smaller pipes which measured around 3 inches in diameter. The rest of their time was spent working on the larger antler pipes. When working on these smaller pipes they would not use the asbestos blankets but made use of asbestos tape. This measured around 3 inches in width and was on a roll. This had a thin layer of asbestos across the top and they would wrap this around the weld for the same purpose of regulating the cooling process of the weld as we would do on the antler pipes. When this was exposed to the high levels of heat, further asbestos dust would rise up into the atmosphere but obviously, not as much airborne asbestos dust was created as the tape was much smaller in size compared to the large asbestos insulation blankets.
It was common, especially at break times for the Claimant’s father and the witness to go through to the next fabrication shop to chat to the Claimant’s uncle and as they entered his shop, the Claimant’s father and the witness suffered further exposure to asbestos which was floating around the atmosphere in his brother’s shop. The dusty conditions within his shop were comparable to the dusty conditions in the fabrication shop where they worked.
The witness evidence also confirmed that as a welder, both he and the Claimant’s father would have to wear asbestos gloves when working at high temperatures. The gloves were fibrous and would become damaged and worn over time and further asbestos dust would be released into our general working environment when wearing them. When their gloves brushed past pipes, welds and their work stations in the form of trestles, further asbestos dust would rise up into the atmosphere which covered their hair, skin and overalls. It was impossible to escape being covered in the asbestos dust within the shop where they worked. They were engaged in working on various processes when the dust from the asbestos gloves rose up into the atmosphere. The irony is that the gloves were being worn for health and safety reasons as the asbestos was such an affective fire retardant material.
The asbestos dust covered the shop floor and the Claimant’s father and the witness regularly walked through the dust throughout the course of the working day. As they did so, the asbestos dust would be disturbed once more, resulting in further asbestos dust rising up into the atmosphere which workers like the Claimant’s father and the witness could not help but inhale. The asbestos dust would once again settle on their hair, skin and overalls.
At the end of each day the witness can remember older workers, going around sweeping up the mess that had been left behind as a result of people doing their individual jobs. This cleaning process involved sweeping up the asbestos dust which had come from the asbestos blankets and tape which the welders used as part of the cooling regulation process. As the workers used hard brushes to sweep up the mess, further dust including white asbestos dust would rise up into the atmosphere which the Claimant’s father and the witness inhaled. Further dust from the sweeping including asbestos dust would cover their work clothes, hair and skin. The cleaning process would be carried out at various times throughout the course of each shift and therefore their exposure continued from this source throughout the course of the working day.
There were no showering facilities on site and the witness recalls most workers all leaving work at the end of each working day in a dusty state. There were facilities on site for hand washing but nothing else. Some of the dust and grime which covered their overalls, hair and skin was inevitably the white asbestos dust. Both the Claimant’s father and the witness always took their asbestos covered, dirty overalls home to wash.
Neither the witness or the Claimant’s father were provided with any form of mask to wear by the Defendant during the course of his employment at the Spring Road site nor were he and the witness ever warned of the dangers of working in an asbestos filled environment. Such failure were relied upon as proof of negligence and breach of statutory duty in the successful mesothelioma claim.
Asbestos exposure within the family home
Further witness evidence in support of this secondary mesothelioma claim was obtained from the Claimant’s older sister.
She confirmed that their father worked for John Thompson (Pipework) Limited of Spring Road, Ettingshall, Wolverhampton, throughout the early part of her childhood. This was part of the John Thompson Group of companies. She thinks he actually started working for the company around 1953 and continued working for them until the 1973/74 tax year. This was a large employer in the local area at that time.
One of her earliest childhood memories is remembering feeling excited when her father returned home from work at the end of each working day. When their father first started work at the Lamont fabrication shop, the Claimant would have been nearly 3 years of age and by the time he finished his work at that location, he will have been 9 or 10.
Her statement confirmed that their father would drive to and from work in those days and always returned home in his work overalls. She would describe them as a type of boiler suit. His overalls would always be covered in various forms of dust and grime including a white coloured dust, which she believed to be asbestos dust.
She had clear memories of seeing her father arrive at the family home upon completing his day’s work. He would look dirty after a day’s work and the dust and grime not only covered his overalls but was also present on his skin and hair. The white dust was visible all over his hair. He also smelt differently due to his overalls being covered in the dust, dirt and grime.
She can remember her father greeting their mother at the door. He would usually then go straight to the Claimant to pick him up as he had missed him at work. Naturally, the Claimant would be so excited to see their father, he would run towards Being the youngest, their father always picked him up upon returning home.
The evidence obtained in support of the mesothelioma claim showed that this was how the Claimant had suffered his exposure to airborne asbestos dust, which he could not help but breathe in from his father’s skin, hair and dust covered overalls.
After greeting the family, their father would take his overalls off shortly after arriving. When he took them off, some of the dust which covered his overalls, inevitably, floated around the family home. The Claimant would often be nearby when his father changed as they would be talking to him about what they had done over the day.
Their father would then wash in the sink every night. He didn’t have a bath but did wash down his hands, neck, face and hair which were covered in the dust and grime including the white dust the Claimant’s sister remembers seeing. She could remember his overalls usually being left in the kitchen each evening to be worn the next day. Their father would change into his overalls ready for work before each shift before driving to the site.
Once every week their mother would wash their father’s overalls in a twin tub. They did not have a washing machine in those days. Their mother would move his work clothes to the washing area to clean them.
As a result of the overalls being taken off in the house, the white dust would float around in the general environment at their house which the Claimant inhaled throughout this period.
Gathering the witness evidence together in this successful mesothelioma claim was time consuming as there was a great deal of information to cover. Thankfully, we were able to track down witnesses who added valuable details to the allegations made against the Defendant in support of the claim for mesothelioma compensation.
A detailed medical report was obtained from a well respected respiratory physician who confirmed that the asbestos exposure the Claimant suffered in the family home, materially contributed to the risk of him developing asbestos related mesothelioma. This is known as the “causation test” in a mesothelioma claim. The test was satisfied in this complex, tragic claim.
We were able to secure a sizeable sum of mesothelioma compensation for the Claimant in just over 4 months after receiving contact from him to deal with the mesothelioma claim.
Whilst the claim was complex, we used our expertise to gather as much evidence as possible in support of the mesothelioma claim and achieved a positive result for the Claimant in a short period of time. It is always vital to move quickly with mesothelioma claims to ensure that clients have the benefit of their mesothelioma compensation to assist throughout the course of their period of suffering.
If you require assistance in pursuing a mesothelioma claim or believe you have a valid asbestos claim for any other condition 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.