Workers who were employed at shipyards were at an extremely high risk of being exposed to asbestos between the 1940s and the 1970s. Hundreds of thousands of shipbuilders were tasked with using asbestos as insulation and fireproofing in more than 300 types of materials that were then used on ships. This level of exposure, combined with the severe lack in protection provided to workers, meant that many of these men and women developed serious or fatal asbestos-related diseases.
One such man worked in shipyards for nearly 30 years between the 1950s and 1980s. He started working in building ships as an apprentice before becoming a shipwright. Like other workers in shipyards, the man was not properly protected from exposure to asbestos, even though many people were aware that asbestos was a dangerous product.
Before the 1980s, many employers, manufacturers and business owners chose not to provide proper protection against asbestos exposure to the people working with the materials. Instead of worrying about the safety and health of these men and women, many people chose profits over people by taking shortcuts and ignoring safety protocols. Victims of this negligence are now suffering from serious illnesses decades later.
In the immediate case, the 75-year-old man was able to pursue compensation from two of his former employers in the form of a provisional settlement. This provisional settlement means that if the man’s health condition worsens, as it is expected to, the man can pursue additional compensation to help him cover the cost of medical bills, treatment and other damages. As it stands, he has been diagnosed with diffuse pleural thickening. He has trouble breathing, walking long distances and participating in many everyday activities he used to enjoy.
Source: Sunderland Echo, “Ex-Sunderland shipyard worker wins asbestos pay out,” Dec. 18, 2012