Mr O was diagnosed in February 2016 at age 72. Mesothelioma is an aggressive type of cancer that is almost entirely caused by exposure to asbestos fibre and develops in the lining of the lungs. It can take decades for health problems to develop after the original contact with asbestos.
Mr O was employed by Wiggins Teape at the Buckland Paper Mill between 1959 and 1966. He worked initially as a general labourer, doing sweeping work at the mill, then as an assistant machinist on the cutting machines, before finally working as an assistant machinist on the pulping vats.
He recalls there being asbestos lagging around the pipes that took steam to the paper vats and around the vats themselves. He described that in places the lagging was in a poor state of repair and claimed that dust and debris would come from the lagging onto the floor of the mill which he would then have to sweep up, or would be swept up around him, with a lot of dust left in the air.
Following his diagnosis Mr O instructed Leigh Day who conducted research into the paper mill including interviewing co-workers and obtaining an asbestos site survey undertaken in 2002 which confirmed the past presence of asbestos at the paper mill.
Mr O claimed he was not provided with protective equipment from the asbestos lagging dust and that the mill was poorly ventilated with no mechanical ventilation appliances to remove the dust in the air.
In the summer of 2015 Mr O began to lose his appetite, and by the end of 2015 he had lost over a stone in weight. In December 2015 he noticed that he was becoming breathless when walking his dog and went to see his GP.
He was sent for a chest x-ray and following this was immediately admitted to hospital where he had fluid drained from his lung. He was diagnosed with mesothelioma in February 2016.
His diagnosis came as a huge shock as he had always been fit and heathy and enjoyed walking his dog every day and doing decorating and gardening around his house.
A letter of claim was sent to Arjo Wiggins Limited, who were formerly known as Wiggins Teape, in August 2016 and proceedings were served in November. Following this a six-figure settlement was agreed with the company, who did not admit liability, on 12 January 2017.
Ewan Tant from the industrial diseases team at Leigh Day said: “We are pleased that Mr O has achieved this settlement to ensure that he has the care that he needs and that he knows his family have the security for the future.”