Cambridge University Pay Compensation For Asbestos-Related Claim
A Carpenter that was contracted to do work at Cambridge University and is now suffering from asbestos-related cancer, has been paid compensation. Cambridge University stated that this was not an admission of negligence on their part.
As an employee of the estates department from 1989 until 2006, Mr Bob Murphy claimed that he was not given the necessary safeguards, when dealing with materials containing asbestos.
Mr Murphy is terminally ill with mesothelioma, a cancer that affects the lining of the walls of the lung, which inhaling asbestos dust causes. In order to control the pain he has to consume 30 drugs daily.
“I was just a worker. At the end of the day you’re given a job and you just get on with it and now in hindsight I would have touched nothing. I am suffering because of my ignorance.
“All we was given was a paper mask – and also a special hoover which we thought was an asbestos one,” Said Mr Murphy.
It has been discovered that the university contravened other rules in regard to work with white asbestos. Cambridge University is carrying out an asbestos eradication programme, so its buildings fall in line with safety recommendations.
Back in 2008 when Cambridge was building the Kavli Institute for Cosmology, the construction workers were secretly filmed by a university member of staff. “We couldn’t believe that the university was not protecting us as employees and it was even broken up outside the door where we walked into.” When the demolition of a concrete barn containing asbestos was undertaken, the correct precautions were not adhered to. Contractors were caught on film using scaffolding poles to demolish the building including the roof sheeting.
Cambridge University released a statement saying that: “The construction company contracted to dismantle the barn in question in 2008 were negligent.
“That company is no longer on the university’s supplier list.
“Since this incident asbestos management procedures have been revised and all contractors are audited on a regular basis.”
An investigation was launched by the Health and Safety Executive with regard to the barn removal, it agreed that there were problems in the way the demolition had been managed, but they did not bring a prosecution.
It was informed that the “HSE inspectors accepted that the university and others involved took this matter very seriously and have acted robustly to prevent repetition.
“Given that the risks were so low, it was not considered necessary or appropriate for HSE to take further action.”
A £16,000 fine was enforced and paid by King’s College in a different incident, which exposed its staff to asbestos contamination.
Further to the statement from Cambridge University, “A pay out to a mesothelioma victim is an insurance matter in recognition of the illness which may have been contracted in the workplace, not an admission of any negligence on the part of the employer.”
Even though Mr Murphy had stopped working at the university before the barn removal incident, he claims that he came into contact with white asbestos on numerous occasions, whilst working at the site. “I’ve got a terminal illness. So how can it not be dangerous when you’re told you’ve got eight to 18 months? I was looking forward to a long and happy retirement,” Mr Murphy said.