This case study demonstrates expertise of our chemical poisoning and asbestos team which recently negotiated a significant amount of compensation for the wife of a former electrician who was exposed to asbestos while working at the British Uralite factory in Higham, Kent.
British Uralite was an asbestos product manufacturer with premises near Higham, east of Gravesend. Mr R worked British Uralite on two occasions; from 1977-78 to 1979-80 as an electrician and from 1983-84 to 1987-88 as a production worker. Mr R worked shifts from 6.00 am to 2.00 pm and from 2.00 pm to 10.00 pm during the week. While working an electrician, Mr R worked in all their departments. When working in production, he worked in both the mill and in the beaters departments. The asbestos arrived in paper bags. Mr R was responsible for taking the asbestos bags up in a lift from the storage area to the beaters to pour into the machine. He delivered about 4 or 5 bags on a sack barrow at least 10 times per shift. The bags were always very dusty and he breathed in the dust. On occasions, the bags split and the asbestos would be released into the air as it poured out of the torn bag. Mr R had to brush up the spilt asbestos which also generated a dust cloud. Mr R was present while operators poured asbestos into the beater machine. Lots of asbestos dust became airborne during this process and Mr R breathed it in. He occasionally wore a basic paper mask if he had to brush up any asbestos. Every day he disturbed asbestos and breathed in asbestos dust. Mr R described the levels of asbestos on the factory floor as similar to being covered in snow.
There was no ventilation at the premises and Mr R was given no warning, instruction, training or advice about the hazards of asbestos
At the age of 86, Mr R was diagnosed with mesothelioma. On behalf of Mr R we argued that a number of breaches of the employer’s duties to protect employees had been breached under the Factories Act 1961 and/or the Asbestos Regulations 1969.
Despite the insurers of British Uralite admitting liability at an early stage, Mr R died before we could recover any compensation for him. However, we went on to act for the Executor of Mr R’s Estate and recovered full compensation for his surviving wife as beneficiary under his Will.