£449,180 awarded for beryllium poisoning

Compensation for a hazardous substances poisoning claim of £449,180 was awarded in 1998 to a 38 year-old man for berylliosis from exposure to beryllium dust during his employment as a machinist.

Injury details

A man aged 21 whilst working as a machinist was exposed to berillyium dust and subsequently developed berylliosis with symptoms of permanent breathlessness and fatigue and ultimately resulting in a collapsed lung

The exposure happened between April 1981 to December 1982. Subsequently he was self employed running a newspaper distribution business.

Following diagnosis in 1982 the condition worsened resulting in oral steroid therapy being prescribed. The claimant found himself unable to work and as a result had to sell his business.

In December 1996 he was admitted to hospital as an emergency with A pneumothorax resulted in an admission to hospital his lung having collapsed by 50% and his deteriorating condition putting him at risk of further similar incidents. By 1989 the claimant need oxygen 18 hours per day and his life expectancy had fallen to four years. The need for care would increase over time and the end when it came was expected to be difficult.


It was alleged that the defendant was negligent insofar as they failed to provide a safe working environment for the claimant resulting in poisoning caused by inhaling beryllium dust.

The claimant was able to perform only the most basis of tasks and his social life which had previously revolved around sport was gone. The claimant became irritable and snappy in a way which was totally out of character

Settlement and conclusion

The matter progressed to a Court hearing. The Judge in considering the severity of the claimants condition decided to award damages above the normal guidelines

General damages of £65,000 was awarded by the court. With additional damages of the remainder of the compensation was made up of past and future loss of earnings and the cost of past and future care.