Get involved! Send photos, video, news & views. Text SWINDON NEWS to 80360 or email us
Rail company pays woman £70,000 in asbestos case
BRITISH Rail has paid £70,000 in compensation to the widow of a former Swindon railway worker who died three years ago from undetected asbestos related cancer.
Samuel Dean, who lived in Queensfield with wife Mavis, worked for British Rail for 33 years as a general crane worker and for much of that period was continuously exposed to asbestos.
The cranes at British Rail contained boilers which were lagged with white asbestos and which were stripped for repair. Mr Dean also worked in outstations, often sleeping in the guards’ van for weeks at a time. Mr Dean slept only feet away from the stove in the van which was covered with asbestos and crumbling from age and heat.
His solicitor, Brigitte Chandler, a leading industrial disease lawyer and partner with Swindon law firm, Charles Lucas & Marshall, who has represented many hundreds of railway workers over the last 30 years, said Mr Dean suffered from breathing problems for the last 15 years of his life before he died at the age of 81 in March, 2009.
“He was never given any diagnosis,” she said.
“Finally, in 2009 he became much worse and collapsed and died. The post mortem revealed he died from asbestosis.
“There are still many people in Swindon who worked in the railway industry who are being affected by asbestos exposure.
“On a more positive note, British Rail is now well aware of the problem and providing someone can show they worked there and were exposed to asbestos, many claims are now generally settled out of court, as was the case here.”
Brigitte said that it often happens that asbestosis is not diagnosed until a post-mortem. Railway workers and anyone exposed to asbestos need to be constantly vigilant – particularly if they start suffering from chest problems.
“Unfortunately, the area where Mr Dean worked was notorious for using large quantities of asbestos and there have been other deaths from employees working in the same area.
“Claims against British Rail for asbestos exposure have been running for over 30 years. Even though the works were closed 25 years ago, cases are still arising because it can take up to 60 years for the illness to develop after exposure.
“Many people who worked there are still suffering from the legacy of exposure to asbestos on locomotive trains.”
The Swindon and South West Asbestos Group is a regional charity which provides support groups and a free advice service to people suffering from asbestos disease, and to their families.
They now offer home visits to sufferers in the Swindon area to advise on benefits available.