British Rail has paid compensation to a former employee with terminal cancer mesothelioma caused by failing to protect him from asbestos exposure.

Harold Shaw, from Crewe, began working for British Rail at Crewe Railway Works in 1958 as a labourer in the Tender Shop. The Tenders were used to carry coal and water for the steam locomotive trains.

25 years cleaning asbestos lined-pits without protection

Harold was employed to clean out the fitting pits at the works which were lined with asbestos. He was exposed to clouds of asbestos dust as he swept it up and tipped it out from a wheelbarrow. He worked in the role for 25 years without any protection.

In 1980, Harold moved to a new role in the Asbestos House where he removed asbestos-lagged exhaust pipes until 1988 when he retired.

In May 2013, after his breathing deteriorated rapidly, Harold was admitted to hospital where he discovered, following tests, that he had mesothelioma - a fatal cancer caused by asbestos.

After being discharged from hospital, Harold contacted Thompsons Solicitors, specialists in asbestos related illness compensation.

Thompsons built case against British Rail

Thompsons collated all of the information from Harold’s employment history to create a comprehensive case against British Rail. The strength of the case assembled by Thompsons forced the employer to accept full responsibility and settle the claim out of court. Harold received substantial compensation providing much needed reassurance for him and his family.

Morphine and oxygen required continuously

Speaking of his diagnosis, Harold commented: “I was absolutely devastated when I found out I had mesothelioma and since my admission to hospital, my quality of life has been greatly affected. I used to be very active but now I’m on oxygen and morphine continuously and need help from my daughter to do the simplest of tasks such as driving to the supermarket to get my shopping.

Others exposed to asbestos at Crewe Railways Works urged to come forward

“Thompsons Solicitors have been fantastic. I’d definitely recommend anyone else who was exposed to asbestos at Crewe Railway Works to get in touch with them if they think they could be entitled to compensation. There must be many more like me in the area that are suffering now due to exposure to asbestos.”

Joanne Keen, from Thompsons Solicitors, said: “British Rail failed to protect its workers at Crewe Railway Works from the dangers of asbestos and now employees like Harold are suffering the consequences. Although the exposure to asbestos occurred over 50 years ago, it’s still very important that employers are held to account as the dangers were well known at the time.

“In this case, our specialist knowledge of asbestos claims and quick action assisted Howard to bring the claim to a successful conclusion quickly so that he and his family benefit from much needed reassurance of financial security.”