Ford toolmaker awarded £33,000 compensation

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Ford logo - Credit: Archant

A former toolmaker has been awarded £33,000 in compensation after he was left “partially disabled” from working at a Ford plant in Dagenham.

Ronald Hymans, 60, developed occupational asthma while operating machines that cut cast iron and hard steel, after the plant failed to give him any protection against metalwork fluid mist in the air.

His intermittent chest complaints progressed over several years to the point where he could only breathe properly when he was sitting down.

Mr Hymans, who lives in Essex, said: “I have been left with life-long breathing difficulties and I am now classed as partially disabled. It is an extremely frustrating and limiting condition that has a very negative effect on my quality of life, I can’t even walk my dog without getting out of breath.”

Mr Hymans had three months off work due to a knee injury in 2007 during which his breathing improved by a third, leading his doctor to diagnose him with occupational asthma.

When he returned to work, he was moved from the plant floor to work in an office for seven months but was then told to return to his previous role which again exposed him to harmful fumes.

In 2011, his asthma worsened to the extent that he had to take seven months off work. When he returned to Ford he spent the rest of his career working in an office.

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Thompson Solicitors secured compensation for Mr Hymans after being instructed by Unite Legal Services.

Peter Kavanagh, Unite’s London and Eastern regional secretary, said: “Ford failed to provide Ronald with a safe working environment. The plant was not fitted with appropriate extraction units over the machines and employees were not given suitable protection. Not only did they breach well known health and safety regulations but, knowing what they did about his condition, they still put Ronald back into the same working conditions that brought on his health complaint in the first place.

“A lack of interest and care from Ford has left Ronald with a medical condition that will limit him for the rest of his life.”

A spokesman from Ford Dagenham said: “The health and safety of our employees is of the utmost importance and our health and safety practices are continuously updated to ensure they meet the highest standards. These standards meet or exceed those required by legislation and external monitoring bodies.”

He added that the company “does not comment on personal matters affecting individuals connected with Ford”.