I was instructed by Mr Reginald Fewster following his diagnosis of asbestosis. I visited Mr Fewster at his home to discuss with him his work history and his exposure to asbestos dust.
Mr Fewster was able to describe asbestos exposure whilst he was employed by Appleby Frodingham Steel Company, which became Redpath Dorman Long before finally becoming British Steel, now a part of Tata Steel UK Limited.
Exposure to Asbestos Dust
Mr Fewster described how he worked in a variety of locations across the Scunthorpe Steelworks including in the BOS Plant, Concast Plant and Redbourn Plant.
Mr Fewster worked as a semi-rigger. He was therefore involved in the repair and replacement of pipework and assisted with the re-lining of the blast furnaces. Mr Fewster alleged that the work he was undertaking meant that he was frequently in the vicinity of those who were stripping and removing asbestos lagging from pipes and blast furnaces.
Mr Fewster described the removing and replacement of the asbestos lagging as an incredibly dusty and dirty job. He gave vivid descriptions of his alleged exposure to asbestos dust, including that when the laggers would remove or mix and re-apply asbestos on the gantries above him, the asbestos would fall down like snow in the atmosphere. Mr Fewster therefore alleged substantial quantities of exposure to asbestos dust and fibres whilst working in the vicinity of laggers and when removing asbestos lagging from pipes to enable repairs to be undertaken.
Mr Fewster came to me following his diagnosis of asbestosis. He described symptoms of coughing and shortness of breath as a result of his asbestosis. He also required care and assistance around the home.
I instructed a medical expert in asbestosis claims to prepare a report on Mr Fewster’s condition. The expert considered that Mr Fewster had a diagnosis of asbestosis and asbestos related pleural plaques and that his asbestosis was contributing 40% to his overall respiratory disability.
Sadly, Mr Fewster died in August 2015 as a result of a ruptured abdominal aortic aneurysm. The cause of his death was due to natural causes.
Where a death occurs and a diagnosis of asbestosis has been made then it is important that the local coroner is notified of the death and that a post mortem takes place. The lung tissue samples can be analysed for asbestos bodies which can, together with exposure history, prove an asbestosis claim.
In Mr Fewster’s case, we notified the coroner and a post mortem was undertaken. At post mortem, there was no finding of asbestosis and no analysis was undertaken for asbestos bodies and no lung tissue samples were retained.
Our medical expert was then consulted and he considered that a diagnosis of asbestosis could still be shown, as the pathologist at post mortem had looked at Mr Fewster’s lung tissue with the naked eye and would not therefore have seen evidence of the asbestosis. Our medical expert identified asbestosis on Mr Fewster’s scans and x-rays and therefore continued to support Mr Fewster’s family’s claim. As a result, court proceedings were issued.
Following the issue and service of court proceedings, I negotiated a settlement on behalf of Mr Fewster’s family for £20,000 as a result of Mr Fewster’s diagnosis of asbestosis.
Mr Fewster’s was a complex and difficult claim as asbestosis was not confirmed at post mortem. I was very pleased to reach a settlement in Mr Fewster’s claim and his family were grateful to receive compensation for his asbestosis diagnosis.