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Settlement secured for former laboratory assistant following asbestos exposure

A former Merseyside laboratory assistant has received a five-figure settlement from his previous employer after being diagnosed with a respiratory disability caused by exposure to asbestos.

Posted on 14 June 2019

Leonard Smith, aged 79, worked for Gandy Belting Limited, based in Seacombe, on the Wirral in Merseyside between 1961 and 1971, firstly as a laboratory assistant and then as a manager in the belting division. The company made brake linings for cars, trains and lorries, amongst other vehicles. 

In 2017, Leonard was diagnosed with a respiratory disability caused by asbestosis, a chronic lung condition resulting from prolonged exposure to asbestos. Leonard has been told that there is a possibility that he could develop a malignant asbestos-related illness in the future.

As a laboratory assistant at Gandy Belting Limited, Leonard believes he was exposed to asbestos when he had to test, develop and research brake lining formulations. Leonard had to determine what mixture of raw asbestos, asbestos powder and mineral components would provide the most effective brake lining. The asbestos would arrive in large bags which, Leonard alleged, produced a lot of dust when opened. Leonard then had to scoop out asbestos fibre to add to the brake lining formulations.

During this time, Leonard would also go into the factory to oversee the manufacturing process of the brake linings. Linings were shaped by a mechanical grinding process which he further alleged produced a lot of dust.  

In approximately 1965 or 1966, Leonard moved permanently into the belting section of the factory where he worked as a manager. Leonard believes that this area of the factory was where asbestos yarn was woven into asbestos belting which was then fitted with a resin before being ground and shaped into a brake lining. 

Leonard also believes that the only protection that he was provided with by his former employer was a white coat and that he was exposed to asbestos in all three areas of the factory during his employment for Gandy Belting Limited between 1961 and 1971.

Gandy Belting Limited admitted liability and Leonard received a five-figure settlement in damages for the asbestos exposure on a provisional damage basis.

Steven Dickens, asbestos claims solicitor, said:

“Asbestos was regularly used in the production process of brake linings and was not banned in the UK until 1999.

“Leonard believes that he came into regular contact with asbestos while working at Gandy Belting Limited between 1961 and 1971 and that he was not provided with the sufficient protection.

“We are pleased that Leonard has received compensation for his exposure to asbestos at Gandy Belting Limited. The settlement will help support himself and his wife, who he is a carer for.”