I was instructed by James in 2015 following his diagnosis of early fibrosis and asbestos-related pleural plaques. The doctors questioned James about any previous asbestos exposure and James confirmed that he started work aged 15 in 1955 as an apprentice in the generating industry for the Central Electricity Generating Board (CEGB). He initially began working in Ince power station near Chester in 1956, before moving to Bradwell nuclear power station in 1964. He subsequently moved to Barking power station, East London, for five years from 1965 to 1970 before finally relocating to East London at Brunswick Wharf power station where he remained until 1982.
He was in an environment where he was exposed daily to asbestos until 1982. He began work as an apprentice and then as a fitter before being promoted to an engineer. He was involved with maintenance on the plant, working with turbines and in the boiler house.
Throughout the power stations there were networks of pipes. These were normally steam pipes which carried steam and pressure of 900lbs at 900° F in heat. The diameter of the pipes ranged from 1/2 inch to 1 inch and from 6 inches up to 18-20 inches. The pipework ran through the power stations from all sorts of machines, not just the boilers and turbines, but also ancillary and auxiliary equipment. In addition to the main machinery there were extensive back-up systems to ensure that the supply of electricity was as constant as possible so that the power station worked at maximum efficiency.
Asbestos was used all over the stations and there was asbestos lagging around various pipes that was held on by chicken wire. Laggers applied the asbestos to the pipes.
James came into direct contact with asbestos as he needed to remove asbestos lagging in order to get to the pipework to complete his work. The laggers would come along with him, removing the lagging for him and either cutting through the asbestos lagging with a knife or hacksaw and then ripping it away by hand. The asbestos lagging was left on the floor which James then walked through.
The laggers then relagged the pipes with asbestos, mixing powdered asbestos in a bucket with water using a spatula. They then applied the resultant paste to the pipes.
I obtained a supportive medical report that confirmed that James was suffering from pleural plaques and asbestosis, and that he was suffering from a 5% respiratory disability. As he was exposed to asbestos, there are risks that he might develop diffuse pleural thickening, that his asbestosis might worsen or that he might develop a malignant condition such as mesothelioma or asbestos-related lung cancer.
James therefore preferred a provisional award. Whilst a full and final award compensates a claimant for the condition he has now, it also compensates the claimant for the risk of contracting future conditions. If James had opted for a full and final award, if he was unlucky enough to develop another condition (or his current condition was to worsen significantly), he would not be entitled to come back to court to claim further compensation.
James therefore opted for a provisional award which means that if he does develop mesothelioma, asbestos-related lung cancer, pleural thickening or if his asbestosis worsens significantly, he can come back to claim further damages.
James’s case settled for £25,000 gross on a provisional damages basis and he is delighted that he has some financial recompense now but also very reassured that has something similar to an insurance policy in that if he does develop a malignant condition in particular, he can come back for further damages.