KW started work straight from school for Tate & Lyle Limited at their Thames Refinery Plant in August 1955. He was not old enough to start an apprenticeship then, but started an apprenticeship as a mechanical engineer in August 1957. He continued working for them until he was made redundant in 1988.
During his apprenticeship he often had to remove asbestos lagging from parts of tanks or pipes so that repairs could be carried out. The sugar refinery processes required the use of heat which was produced from steam and this in turn was generated from massive boilers. There were also various tanks and vessels which were used in processes requiring high temperature. This meant that there were miles of pipes and other equipment covered with asbestos insulation at the refinery. Cutting into and removing parts of the asbestos lagging created substantial amounts of asbestos dust which he could not avoid breathing in. He was also present in boiler rooms when laggers were mixing up asbestos powder with water and clouds of asbestos dust were formed when this was done.
For a few months in 1961, he also worked as an engineer on one of Tate & Lyle's sugar carriers. He was exposed to asbestos from the insulation on pipes and areas within the engine room of the ship.
After leaving the MV Sugar Carrier he went to the Plaistow Wharf Sugar Refinery where he continued to be exposed to asbestos from lagging that was removed in order to carry out repairs on pipes.
As he became more senior within the Tate & Lyle company, he carried out less work himself that involved removing asbestos lagging, but was frequently present when supervising or inspecting work carried out by others, including at a refinery owned by the company in Montreal, Canada.
In March 2012 he began feeling noticeably breathless and was referred to hospital for tests. In August 2012 he was told of the diagnosis of mesothelioma. His condition deteriorated quite rapidly and sadly he died from this condition in October 2012. He was in considerable pain and lost a lot of weight. He required care from his wife, particularly at night because his pain was never completely under control. Medical staff from the local hospice also attended him at home because he did not wish to go into the hospice.
The cost to the Ellenor Lions Hospice of providing care to him at home was recovered as part of the claim.
Caroline Pinfold was instructed by KW during his lifetime and subsequently by his widow. The case was successfully concluded in November 2014, with a separate amount being paid to the hospice in respect of their care costs. KW's widow said that she was grateful for all the help and support given to her family during a difficult time.
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