Joe was exposed to asbestos for nearly four decades
RMT member Joe Brown worked at an engineering facility between 1947 and 1985, first as a crane driver at its iron works, then a millwright assistant and, later, a furnaceman in the steel foundry. Asbestos was prevalent across the facility as it was used to lag its pipework, boilers and furnaces. Joe would come into contact with it regularly, particularly in his role as furnaceman.
Throughout his career at the factory, which spanned nearly four decades, Joe was never given instruction on safe working practices with asbestos and was not provided with protective equipment to limit his exposure.
"Joe devoted the best part of his career to the engineering facility so it’s sad that, ultimately, it was a contributing factor to his tragic death."
In the summer of 2014, 29 years after retiring, Joe developed pneumonia and was taken to hospital. A scan revealed scarring of his lung tissue but the cause was unclear. Joe’s breathing began to deteriorate until, shortly before his death in March 2015, it was so poor he was unable to walk more than 30 feet.
It was discovered post-mortem that Joe had been suffering from asbestosis, a debilitating lung condition caused by inhaling asbestos dust.
His son, Robert, contacted the RMT on his father’s behalf and instructed asbestos disease specialists Thompsons Solicitors to make a compensation claim. The defendant admitted that Joe had been negligently exposed to asbestos.
Robert said: “For the last nine months of my dad’s life, he was in and out of hospital and we had no idea why. It was frustrating for our entire family because we could not comprehend why his health was deteriorating so rapidly. It took his death for us to understand that it was caused by asbestos, but that only raised more questions.
“I’ve come to realise just how widespread this issue is and that my dad is not the only person that has become severely ill because they were exposed to dangerous substances, like asbestos, at work. The RMT and Thompsons’ legal team helped make sense of all of this for me and my family, and did everything they could to hold my dad’s former employer accountable for what happened.”
Mick Cash, RMT general secretary, said: “Joe devoted the best part of his career to the engineering facility so it’s sad that, ultimately, it was a contributing factor to his tragic death. As he was a member of the RMT, his son was able to contact us free of charge and successfully make a claim for compensation with the support of Thompsons Solicitors. Joe’s RMT membership ensured his son received his damages in full, with no deductions.”
Alan Dolphin, of Thompsons Solicitors, added: “As we were instructed post-mortem, our legal experts were unable to gather a report from Joe about his direct exposure to asbestos. Luckily, we were able to speak with witnesses and build a claim using other evidence, highlighting the negligence of the employer. It ensured Robert and his family got the answers they were desperately seeking.”
Asbestos disease diagnosis? Talk to us for advice and support on how to secure compensation.
If you or a loved one have been diagnosed with an asbestos-related disease, we can support you with advice on how to make a claim.
The process will be explained in plain English and with no obligation – our priority is to provide you with the best, expert advice on whether you have a valid case for compensation, and to signpost you to further sources of support.
There are strict time limits applied to making a claim – usually three years from the date of diagnosis. It doesn’t matter if the exposure to asbestos took place – as it often does – decades ago, the three year time limit applies to the date of knowledge of diagnosis or date of death.
For further information, visit our How to Make A Compensation Claim page.