Canning Town docker’s family urges others to seek legal advice

George Tilley

George Tilley - Credit: Archant

The family of a dock worker who died from an asbestos related condition are urging others to seek legal advice after receiving compensation for their relative’s death.

George during his heyday as a dock worker

George during his heyday as a dock worker - Credit: Archant

George Tilley, who used to reside in Durham Road, Canning Town, passed away at the age of 86 in 2012 from a lung disease known as pleural thickening - which caused him pain in the last years of his life.

George worked at the Royal Docks as a stevedore and docker for 37 years between 1950 and 1987 and often handled incoming shipments of building materials - including asbestos.

The stevedore was, according to his son Christopher, a well respected worker who was employed by a number of different companies operating in the Royal Docks.

However his son explained that the incoming pallets and crates would sometimes split open from the hooks used to transport them - pouring their contents onto the workers.


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“The bags or sacks of goods were sometimes pierced or torn by the hooks and the contents would spill out over my dad and his colleagues,” said Christopher.

“I remember that he would return from work covered in dust and when I asked what it was he explained that it was asbestos dust.”

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Since his death, George’s family, represented by national law firm Hugh James, have been awarded compensation for alleged breaches to asbestos industry regulations.

After an appeal by the law firm, five witnesses came forward to confirm that during this period, dockyard workers were exposed to high levels of asbestos and no protective gear was provided.

“There were no showers at the docks for the workers to wash themselves at the end of their shifts. They weren’t provided with overalls either, but would wear their own clothes,” said Christopher.

“I would urge former dock workers or their families to come forward and seek legal advice if they or a loved one has been affected by asbestos-related illnesses.

“The industry knew that the material was hazardous and should have taken the necessary steps to protect their employees.”

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