British Airways Pilot Died from Inhaling Contaminated Air in Cockpit
The brother of Richard Westgate, a British Airways pilot who claimed his fatal illness was caused by toxic fumes in the cockpit, said Westgate was let down by doctors who did not believe him. According to a news report in the Daily Mail, Westgate had a number of medical issues, but became extremely angry and disillusioned when British doctors were unable to cure him.
Exposure to Toxic Chemicals
Westgate suffered several years of ill health including mental confusion, severe headaches, sight problems and insomnia before he died in 2012 at age 43. His twin brother, Guy Westgate, also a BA pilot, told the Salisbury Coroner’s Court that his brother was working with researchers to see if his problems were related to being exposed to toxic chemicals on board the planes he flew.
Before he died, Richard Westgate instructed lawyers to sue the airline for health and safety violations as he was convinced the toxic air in the cabin, where he spent a lot of his time, caused his problems. The airline industry has denied this claim and stated that there is no threat to passengers or crew. The coroner has also said he will not look further into this issue. Guy Westgate said his brother also battled health anxiety, and struggled with complex thoughts while becoming clumsy and irritable. In the latter half of 2011, his problems went from bad to worse, his brother said.
Toxic Exposure on the Job
If you believe that you were or are being exposed to toxic substances at work, it is important that you talk to your doctor. Medical professionals can usually determine if you have any physical conditions resulting from potential chemical or toxin exposure. If your doctor doesn’t address your concerns, seek a second opinion. Once you know you have been sickened by toxic exposure, report it to your employer right away. Common workplace toxic exposures include benzene, asbestos, ammonia, zinc, lead, hydrogen peroxide, etc.
You may be able to file a workers’ compensation claim, which helps pay for your medical expenses and a portion of lost wages. In some cases, you may also be able to file a third-party claim, which is a lawsuit against a third party other than your employer whose negligence may have caused the toxic exposure. An experienced workplace injury lawyer will be able to better advise you regarding your legal rights and options.
If you believe you might have a workers’ compensation claim due to a toxic chemical exposure at work, first talk to your doctor. Your doctor will evaluate your condition and may refer you to a specialist trained in evaluating workplace toxic exposures.