The out-of-court settlement could lead to claims from thousands of workers who are exposed to the powerful solvent methyl ethyl ketone (MEK), according to the Amalgamated Engineering and Electrical Union, which backed the case.
After exposure to five times the legal limit of the substance, Tony Bradshaw, a 57-year-old fitter, now suffers from cerebellar ataxia, which affects speech, co-ordination and mobility.
John Allen, an executive member of the AEEU, said the chemical was in everyday use throughout the country and should be banned.
Part of Mr Bradshaw's job at the Royal Naval Armaments Depot at Gosport, Hampshire, involved working on missile warheads. Mr Bradshaw, who worked at the site from 1972 to 1986, was required to use MEK as a stronger substitute for white spirit.
By the early 1980s Mr Bradshaw began to experience difficulties in holding a pen and writing. "My brain tells me to do something and my body simply won't respond. I feel as if a brick wall has come down on my life," he said.Reuse content