Asbestos death £70,000 payout for Doncaster rail worker

NEWS: News.
NEWS: News.

The family of a dad whose life was cut short by asbestos exposure have been awarded £70,000 in compensation.

Former rail worker Douglas Wattam’s family brought the case against British Rail after a post-mortem examination showed he died from asbestosis in January 2012.

Mr Wattam suffered with breathlessness for 13 years as a result of the asbestosis - something that was picked up only after his death.

The settlement with the Department of Transport, which is responsible for cases brought against British Rail, was settled out of court and the £70,000 awarded to Mr Wattam’s family was in respect of the pain and suffering he endured.

Mr Wattam had needed nursing care and incurred expenses as a result of his illness.

He began work with British Rail in 1966 as a coach builder in the carriage shop.

Asbestos was widely used in the Doncaster railway works, with blue asbestos sprayed on the inside of carriages and floating in the air with workers given no protective clothing or warnings.

Brigitte Chandler is a leading industrial disease lawyer who has represented hundreds of railway workers over the last 30 years, including the family of Mr Wattam.

Mrs Chandler, of Swindon law firm Charles Lucas and Marshall, said of the case: “A number of coach builders have died from asbestos exposure at the Doncaster railway works.

“British Rail is now well aware of the extent of this problem and the fact so many people who worked there have become ill.”

British Rail began removing asbestos from train coaches and issuing protective clothing to workers in the 1980s.

Mrs Chandler has been involved with numerous asbestos cases in the Supreme and High Courts, and recommends that anyone who has worked with asbestos in the railways, and who develops chest pain or breathlessness, should seek medical advice.