A former dockyard worker, who contracted a disabling lung disease after being exposed to asbestos, has secured compensation from the Ministry of Defence (MoD).

Plymouth resident, Alan Jones, was employed as a health physics monitor at Chatham Royal Dockyard in Kent between 1969 and 1979, where he was responsible for monitoring radiation levels on board nuclear submarines.

Pipes on submarines were covered with asbestos lagging. When the lagging was removed and renewed asbestos dust was released in reactor compartments and corridors where Alan frequently worked.

No protection or warnings

Despite the dangers of asbestos being well known at the time the MoD failed to provide any form of protection to prevent workers from inhaling asbestos dust.

As a result of being exposed to asbestos, Alan developed diffuse pleural thickening, a condition that causes breathlessness and carries with it an increased risk of developing fatal asbestos disease.

After his diagnosis he contacted Unite Legal Services who instructed industrial disease specialists, Thompsons Solicitors, to investigate a claim of compensation.

Following Thompsons’ extensive investigations, they secured a five-figure compensation payment for Alan, with the provision he can reopen the claim at any time in the future to obtain further compensation should his condition worsen due to asbestos-related disease.

Protection wasn’t too much to ask

Mr Jones said: “I become breathless very quickly, which limits the things I can do. While I can still walk and go out, I have to go at my own pace and take regular breaks just to catch my breath. What is really worrying is not knowing if my condition will get worse.

“The most frustrating thing is that I wouldn’t be suffering like this if the MoD had given me protection or some sort of warning about the dangers of asbestos. I don’t think that’s much to expect from any employer, let alone one the size of the MoD. I am very grateful to Unite for supporting my claim and to Thompsons Solicitors for their expertise and doing their utmost for me.”

Rob Miguel, regional officer from Unite’s Plymouth office, said: “Unfortunately, Mr Jones is yet another of our members who suffers from asbestos-disease due to the negligence of their employers. On this occasion, it was the government of the time that should have done better for workers like Mr Jones, and ensured there was sufficient protection in place against the well-known dangers of asbestos. We see far too many similar cases from other MoD dockyards, including Devonport in Plymouth.

“As the devastating legacy of asbestos disease is yet to peak Unite are working with Thompsons to continue holding negligent employers and their insurers to account.”