Blacksmith Receives GMB Enhanced Asthma Payout

21 Sep 2012

A council blacksmith who developed asthma when he was exposed to dangerous fumes in the workplace has been awarded a payout six times the original offer from his employer, thanks to help from his union. Simon Litherland, 47, was initially offered £16,000 in compensation by Sheffield County Council despite his condition meaning he could no longer work in his trade. The GMB member was eventually awarded £104,000 in damages when the union-backed case went to court.

He was diagnosed with occupational asthma after he was exposed to fumes from metalworking fluids. The trained blacksmith, who had been employed by Sheffield County Council all his working life, began to suffer from breathlessness in 2005. The council introduced the metalworking fluids in 2000 but from 2004 his job required him to use the fluids more often. In July 2007 he was diagnosed with occupational asthma caused by the metalworking fluids. He is now working in a temporary clerical role for the council but medical experts have said if he lost his job he would never be able to work again.

Tim Roache from the GMB commented: ‘Sheffield County Council could easily have had measures in place to make sure that Mr Litherland was protected against these noxious fumes. They failed to do that and then thought they could buy off his claim for £16,000 when the health, livelihood and future employability of a relatively young man has been severely restricted.’