A FORMER stonemason from Batley has secured compensation after developing lung disease following years of work in dusty conditions.
David Wood was diagnosed with silicosis in 2014 – a long-term condition caused by inhaling large amounts of crystalline silica dust, usually over many years.
After enlisting the help of workplace illness lawyers Irwin Mitchell, 64-year-old David discovered that his exposure to the silica dust most likely took place during his time working as a stonemason, starting in 1971 at the age of 16.
He began his career helping to cut stone slabs into long strips of stone and recalled how there was a “constant sparkling haze of dust” in the shed that he worked in.
Later he became a stonemason using chisels and, then, air-chisels and grinders.
Over the years he worked for various companies cutting up stone which “created an extraordinary amount of dust”.
In Christmas 2013 David developed a chest infection which wouldn’t clear up and the following May he was diagnosed with silicosis.
David’s legal team have now secured a six-figure settlement which includes an agreement that should he be diagnosed with cancer or more severe symptoms, the matter can be returned to court.
And he is now calling for tighter safety standards when working with silica to prevent others from suffering in the way he has.
David, who has two children and five grandchildren, said: “It has had such a huge impact on my life.
“I can’t do a lot of the things I used to enjoy, like fishing, playing snooker and walking in the fells, as they are just too much for me.
“I am short of breath a lot of the time; even just walking a short distance is a struggle. I can’t manage much around the home any more either, so (partner) Margaret is run off her feet looking after us both.
“She devotes all of her time to me and will only leave the house to go to the shops or supermarket.
“I have found it incredibly hard coming to terms with the fact that I can no longer work as I used to really enjoy it ... all I can hope for now is that stricter safety measures are put in place for people working with silica, as I wouldn’t want anyone else to suffer the way I have.”
Ian Toft, the partner and workplace illness expert at Irwin Mitchell’s Leeds office who represents David, said: “This settlement for David is hugely important in ensuring that he will receive the treatment required to manage his illness.
“In addition, the fact that the case can be revisited at court if David develops illness in the future will undoubtedly provide him with some peace of mind.
“Through our work we see many people who go on to suffer illness years after undertaking industrial work, and we are happy to have been able to help David get the support he needs at this difficult time.
“However, there still remains a need for tighter safety standards regarding silica and we are calling for these to be implemented sooner rather than later.”