A former maintenance fitter from Hull who developed asbestosis because of asbestos exposure at work has been awarded £46,750 in compensation.

Charles Johnson, 80, was exposed to asbestos while working as a maintenance fitter for a timber firm from 1963 to 1965, and 1969 to 1970. His role involved repairing leaks in pipework, which would often be lagged with asbestos insulation. To access the pipework he would remove the insulation with a saw, causing it to crumble and create dust.

The Unite the union member was also exposed to asbestos while working for another manufacturer in Hull between 1975 and 1997, when he retired. In his last six years of employment at the firm, Charles worked in a boiler house, exposing him to additional asbestos dust.

At no point in either job was he given breathing equipment to stop him inhaling dangerous asbestos dust.

“In my first job I was never once warned about asbestos.” Charles said. “In my last few years of working before retirement my bosses started to acknowledge that asbestos could be dangerous, but their advice was very vague and didn’t lead to any changes in procedure.”

Charles Johnson, 80, who was exposed to asbestos while working for a timber firm.

When Charles started suffering from a persistent cough and breathlessness he visited his GP, who initially thought it was caused by a chest infection. When the issue persisted, his GP referred him to the hospital for a CT scan, which found he had developed pleural plaques and asbestosis - two lung conditions caused by asbestos exposure.

Charles turned to his union, Unite, and contacted the asbestos disease specialists at Thompsons Solicitors to make a compensation claim. The firm has decades of experience supporting people affected by asbestos, and is currently highlighting how past asbestos exposure continues to cause problems with its #PastButPresent campaign.

“Our member has had his life turned upside down because of his asbestos disease. Because he pursued his claim through his union membership, he was able to keep 100 per cent of his compensation.”

Karen Reay, North East, Yorkshire and Humberside regional secretary at Unite the Union

“I’ve had to accept my diagnosis but I still find it distressing when I hear about asbestos, especially when it’s in newspapers and on TV.” He said. “My whole body aches and even walking around my house causes me a lot of pain.

“There’s been a lot of uncertainty for me and my family in recent years, but thankfully the experts at Unite Legal Services and Thompsons Solicitors were there for me from start to finish. They have put me in touch with support groups and ensured my family has financial security in the future.”

Karen Reay, North East, Yorkshire and Humberside regional secretary at Unite the Union, said: “Our member has had his life turned upside down because of his asbestos disease. He was put at risk by his employers for decades and he is now suffering as a result.

“We are pleased that we were able to support Charles and ensure he secured the maximum compensation possible. Because he pursued his claim through his union membership, he was able to keep 100 per cent of his compensation.”