Mr W worked as an apprentice coach builder for British Rail at their depot in Stratford, east London from 1954 to 1963, with a break of two years for his National Service. He worked on the construction of new coaches and the refurbishment of both old timber and metal coaches. He particularly carried out refurbishment of coaches on the old "green and yellow" line that ran to Shenfield in Essex.
Old timber coaches contained pipes for heating under their seats that were covered with asbestos insulation material. These pipes also ran underneath the floors of the carriages. Mr W would have to break into the insulation of these pipes to remove them. Once the pipes were removed, they and the lagging surrounding them were simply thrown to one side to be disposed of.
Metal coaches also contained asbestos insulation boards between the metal panels of the coaches for installation purposes. The metal panels had to be removed in order to gain access to the area surrounding and behind them. A metal hand grinder would be used to cut out some of the panels, but others were attached with rivets and these were drilled off. Once the panels had been removed, Mr W would lift out the asbestos boards behind them. The boards were removed easily but were so soft that they would break easily. The boards were generally tossed to one side to be cleared away at the end of each day.
All of this work created substantial amounts of asbestos dust and his employers took no precautions to protect him from this. They did not advise him that asbestos could be a risk to his health or advise him about precautions that could be taken to prevent him breathing in the asbestos dust and fibres.
Mr W became increasingly breathless from February 2014 and when this became severe he was sent for an x-ray in June 2014. He had further x-rays and fluid was drained from his lung the following month. He then had a video-assisted thoracoscopy in September and pleural biopsies were obtained . These were sent to the Royal Brompton Hospital for a specialist opinion. The specialist concluded that the features were atypical but suspicious of mesothelioma.
He continued to suffer from increasing pain and further fluid was drained from his chest. In December 2014 he was admitted for a CT guided pleural biopsy and the report from that concluded that the appearances were compatible with spindle cell mesothelioma. He was in a great deal of pain by this time and was referred for radiotherapy and chemotherapy.
Mr W retired in 2003 but remained active and was employed part time in a family business until September 2014 when he had to stop because of attending various hospital appointments and his severe breathlessness.
He instructed Caroline Pinfold who saw him at his home in January 2015 and successfully settled his claim, including a claim for loss of his earnings, in June 2015 during his lifetime.
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