The widow of a man who died as a result of being exposed to asbestos while working at an oil refinery many years earlier has been awarded more than £300,000 in compensation in the High Court.
Frances Streets’ husband began his career working for Esso Petroleum Ltd. as a pipe fitter at its refinery in Fawley, Hampshire. During the time he was employed there he was exposed to the potentially deadly substance. Before his death, Mr Streets explained that avoiding exposure was not possible because the atmosphere was frequently ‘thick’ with asbestos dust. Young workers who had no idea of the attendant risks sometimes engaged in fights with lumps of wet asbestos and their overalls would be covered in the fibres.
Mr Streets kept himself very fit and noticed the initial symptoms of mesothelioma, a type of cancer affecting the tissues covering the lungs, while he was out running. Mesothelioma can strike many years after the initial exposure to asbestos. There is no cure and the disease often progresses quickly. Mr Streets died 40 years after his exposure to the deadly substance.
Mrs Streets brought the case against her husband’s former employer. In court, the judge ordered the company to pay her £314,471 in damages. This included £65,000 for the pain, suffering and loss of amenity experienced by Mr Streets in the months before his death.
Unfortunately, we are seeing more and more mesothelioma cases as a result of employers having failed to protect their workers from asbestos in the past.