A British electrical engineer, who worked at the Houses of Parliament and recently died of mesothelioma, kept a work diary for 20 years outlining his safety concerns about asbestos and other hazards and his worries that these dangers would someday result in his demise.
Lawyers for Frederick Hodge told The Telegraph that he supervised the maintenance of pipes and boilers at the Palace of Westminster throughout the 1970s and 1980s and that they are using the diaries, where he penned numerous entries about asbestos-related safety concerns, to build his case for compensation due to failure in taking adequate steps to protect him and others who performed such duties.
The suit will be brought against the Department of Environment, Food, and Rural Affairs, a division of the British government that succeeded Hodge’s original employer, the Ministry of Public Building and Works.
The article notes that Hodge and other behind-the-scenes employees may not have been the only ones affected by asbestos in the Houses of Parliament.
There’s a real possibility that official members of Parliament (MPs), peers, and civil servants may have been exposed as well, the author writes.
Hodge died this past August at the age of 80, just a few months after he was diagnosed with mesothelioma cancer. His diary entries show that he was working in an unprotected environment without benefit of any protective clothing that may have prevented his inhaling asbestos dust.
He noted that the boiler insulation and pipe lagging he worked with regularly were made of asbestos and he expressed constant concern about air quality.
One of his entries said: “Not happy with method taking bulk samples. Speak to Safety Office.” This was in regards to air testing in parts of the building that he believed may have been contaminated by asbestos.
While this particular scenario occurred across the ocean, it isn’t unusual for similar scenarios to unfold here in the United States.
Like Hodge, many engineers, boilermakers, pipe fitters, plumbers, and others who worked with and around boilers and pipes, were similarly exposed to asbestos during work that occurred from the early days of the 20th century until the late 1970s.
As a result, there are many of these individuals who are just now being diagnosed with mesothelioma and other asbestos-related diseases.
Sadly, as in England, no one took the opportunity to warn these tradesmen of the risks of asbestos exposure even though, in many cases, executives and officials were well aware of the problem.
This put these trades on the list of high-risk occupations in regards to the development of asbestos diseases. Even today, individuals performing similar duties may encounter old asbestos lagging or other similar materials, so they should always be prepared by wearing masks or respirators and other protective gear.