Asbestos exposure not only affects those who worked with the material day-to-day but can lead to family members of workers developing asbestos related conditions as a result of so called, “secondary or bystander exposure” to asbestos.
We were recently instructed to pursue such a mesothelioma claim for Mr P, who sadly lost his mother to the incurable asbestos related cancer, mesothelioma.
The Claimant’s late father, was employed on a full-time basis by Tate & Lyle Plc based in Silvertown, initially as a boiler man’s mate and then later as a boiler mechanic. He sadly passed away in 2010 due to health problems, unrelated to his own asbestos exposure.
We obtained witness evidence from the Claimant in support of the mesothelioma claim which showed that his father’s main role involved maintaining the boilers at the Tate & Lyle site and his work also encompassed cleaning parts of the boilers which were covered in limescale. He was also engaged in pressure testing and carried out much of his work during shutdown periods where there was a hive of activity within the works.
Helpfully, the Claimant has been employed by the Defendant as an electrician ever since August 1981 and so had knowledge of the areas where his father explained to him that he had suffered exposure to airbourne asbestos dust.
The Claimant recalled his father explaining to him that he spent a lot of his time in the boiler house at the Defendant’s works. Asbestos lagging was in place around the boilers at the time of his father’s employment.
His evidence in support of the mesothelioma compensation claim confirmed that his father had explained to him that he would need to remove parts of the asbestos lagging periodically throughout the course of his period of employment. In particular, he would need to carry out this type of work when attempting to fix steam leaks in the pipe and he would be working right next to the asbestos lagging when removing this. He would use his bare hands or tools such as chisels and hammers to knock away at the asbestos lagging which had been set into place which resulted in much asbestos dust being released into the atmosphere which he inhaled throughout the course of the working day. This resulted in his father being covered from head to toe in asbestos dust. It covered his hair, clothes and skin and he was never provided with any form of respiratory protection by the Defendant nor was he ever warned of the dangers of being exposed to asbestos dust when attending to this type of work.
His father also explained to him that during shutdown periods offsite contractors would attend to remove large sections of the asbestos lagging in the boiler house where he worked. He explained that the laggers would be involved in removing large sections of the asbestos lagging which resulted in much asbestos dust being released into the atmosphere. He would be working a matter of feet away from the laggers as they attended to this work and he breathed in the harmful fibres throughout the course of the working day. Shutdown periods would last for weeks at a time and therefore his father’s exposure to asbestos dust continued throughout the course of the shutdown period.
The laggers not only attended to removing the lagging but they also had cause to replace this. His father explained that he was near to laggers when they were in the process of mixing raw asbestos powder with water to form a paste like mixture which was then applied to pipework and boilers within the boiler house. As they poured the raw asbestos powder into buckets to be mixed with the water, much asbestos dust would be released into the general atmosphere which he and his colleagues could not help but inhale throughout the course of the working day. He explained to his son that the working conditions within the boiler house were always extremely dusty, hot and uncomfortable, especially during the extensive work periods undertaken during shutdowns.
The asbestos dust from the old and new lagging would cover the boiler house floor and as the Claimant’s father walked through this, further asbestos dust would rise up into the atmosphere which he could not help but inhale.
The Claimant’s father also worked in close proximity to fitters who also had cause to remove asbestos lagging throughout the course of the shutdown periods in particular and as they hacked away at the asbestos lagging using chisels and other tools such as hammers, further asbestos dust would be released into the atmosphere which he could not help but inhale.
The asbestos dust covered his father’s work clothes which he always returned back home to be washed by my mother. He would not be wearing his asbestos covered work clothes when returning home at the end of each shift. Rather, he carried the clothing in a bag which he passed to his wife to wash once a week.
The Claimant had a clear recollection of seeing his mother emptying his father’s work bag and she would then shake his dusty clothing outside to get rid of most of the dust before washing this. This recollection was relied upon as proof of negligence in support of the mesothelioma claim. His mother usually shook the clothing outside, resulting in some asbestos dust being released into the atmosphere which she could not help but inhale.
The Claimant could also remember his mother greeting his father at the door of their home after he finished each shift. She would always greet him with a kiss and a hug. At that time, some of the dust his father had been exposed to which included asbestos dust remained in his hair and covered his skin and therefore his mother breathed in the harmful fibres each and every time his father finished a working shift when greeting him in this way. His father would wash or have a bath after entering the house after each shift. His mother was exposed to the asbestos dust from his work clothes once a week before washing them.
The Claimant does remember his father telling him that it was around the 1980s when the use of asbestos stopped being used by the laggers and workers at the Tate & Lyle plant. He believed that this was replaced with an asbestos replacement material known as Rockwool and therefore it is not thought that the deceased suffered any exposure to asbestos from the early 1980s onwards to the best of the Claimant’s knowledge.
Prior to this, he had been exposed to asbestos dust on a regular basis, which tragically resulted in his wife also experiencing harmful exposure to asbestos.
The evidence showed that here was nowhere else the Claimant’s mother could have been exposed to airborne asbestos dust in her own work and therefore the mesothelioma claim was pursued against Tate & Lyle who if found negligent, would be responsible for paying 100% of the mesothelioma compensation awarded to the Claimant as personal representative to his late mother’s estate.
Medical evidence was obtained in support of the mesothelioma claim which showed that the asbestos exposure suffered by Mrs P within the family home, materially increased the risk of her developing the incurable asbestos related cancer. Such evidence was relied upon in support of causation in the successful claim for mesothelioma compensation.
The case was run to a successful conclusion in just over 6 months with tends of thousands of mesothelioma compensation being recovered following the Claimant’s mother’s tragic passing.
If you require assistance in pursuing a mesothelioma claim or believe you may have a valid asbestos claim relating to any other asbestos related illness 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.