Judges have ruled that a lorry driver who died of mesothelioma was entitled to compensation, even though he did not work directly with the asbestos that caused his illness.

Percy McDonald collected waste products from Battersea Power Station between 1954 and 1958. Although he was not working directly with asbestos, he was exposed to the hazardous substance when he went into certain parts of the plant, and he later developed mesothelioma.

At the original trial, judges dismissed Mr McDonald’s claim, after finding that his exposure had been of a “modest level” and unlikely to pose any risk. He appealed, arguing that working with asbestos was always risky, even if only occasional or for limited periods – and the Court of Appeal judges agreed with him.

The defendant, National Grid Electricity, appealed this decision to the Supreme Court. Sadly, just before the appeal was heard, Mr McDonald died of his illness. By a majority of three judges to two, the National Grid’s appeal was dismissed and it was ruled that Mr McDonald should receive his compensation.

Importantly, the ruling also means that under the Factories Act 1961, the occupier of a premises is responsible for all people on the site, not just their employees. Protection under the act is also extended to those working in all factories, not just those producing asbestos.

Beecham Peacock can advise on all industrial disease claims. For more information, call 0191 2323048 or email enquire@beechampeacock.co.uk

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