Relatives of a railway worker who died as a result of asbestos exposure have been financially compensated.
Douglas Wattam had worked for British Rail since 1966 and was exposed to asbestos on a day-to-day basis at a carriage shop in Doncaster. British Rail did not start providing employees with protective gear until the 1980s, while asbestos was not removed from train carriages until around the same time.
Mr Wattam went on to develop chronic breathlessness and suffered with it for more than a decade until his death two years ago. It was at this point it was found that he had actually been suffering from asbestosis, brought on by his working environment during his time with British Rail.
His family took legal action against the Department for Transport, which handles cases involving British Rail, and secured £70,000 asbestos compensation in an out of Court settlement.
According to figures from the Health and Safety Executive, deaths from asbestosis are increasing across the UK. The HSE said there were 109 asbestosis-related fatalities in 1978, but that the number had risen to 429 by 2011.
Tradesmen are particularly susceptible to health issues linked to asbestos, since it was widely used as a building material up until the 1980s and is therefore still present in many older buildings.
Figures from the HSE state that an average of 20 tradesmen die from exposure to asbestos every week. Asbestos can also be a contributing factor to lung cancer, as well as non malignant pleural disease and Mesothelioma.
This comes after HSE inspector James Lucas warned that relatives of workers who have been exposed to asbestos could also be vulnerable to health problems. He said this is because members of the family might have been in close proximity to them when they were wearing contaminated clothing.
"Asbestos is the single greatest cause of work deaths in the UK," Mr Lucas added.
Slater and Gordon Lawyers offer a free consultation for people exposed to asbestos, and can provide immediate legal representation and rehabilitation support anywhere in the UK.
Call freephone 0800 916 9046 or contact us online and we'll be happy to help.