Family Of Man Killed By Asbestos Exposure Seek Help From Former Round Oak Workers

Mesothelioma caused by asbestos exposure at work

02.02.2010

The widow of a man from Worcestershire is appealing for his former work colleagues to help in her legal battle for justice, after he died from being exposed to asbestos.

His devastated family are attempting to fulfil his dying wish of obtaining compensation, to ensure that they are provided for now that he is gone.

58 year old Roger Burgess from Kidderminster is thought to have been exposed to asbestos whilst working at the now closed Round Oak Steelworks for over 12 years.  He was diagnosed in September 2008 with mesothelioma, an aggressive and fatal form of cancer. He died on 22 January 2009. Mr Burgess leaves behind a wife, Jackie, and two children; including son, Liam who still lives at home.

His wife has launched a search for his former work colleagues, who she hopes will be able to shed more light on how Roger came into contact with asbestos dust.

An inquest into his death held on 27 August 2009 recorded a verdict of industrial disease.

During his time at Round Oak Steelworks, Mr Burgess was involved in a number of roles at Round Oak. The former steelworks site, is now the Merry Hill Shopping Centre. His first main job was in the role of clerk in the arc furnace section.  This position meant that Mr Burgess needed to work amongst two large electric arc furnaces, which, as he recalled, had asbestos components.

In a written statement made shortly before his death, Mr Burgess stated that ‘the steelworks was a dirty, dusty place to work in.’ It is believed that the dust Mr Burgess and his colleagues were exposed to daily, may have contained  asbestos.

Mr Burgess then moved to a different area within the site. During his time as a supervisor in the rail traffic department, he worked all over the site to oversee the work of the ‘shunters’. Again, he worked amongst the furnaces which are believed to have been lined with asbestos.

During his 12 years there, Mr Burgess was not given a mask or other breathing equipment, and wore his own clothes to work.  He stated, ‘I was never warned about the dangers of working with asbestos’.

Before his illness, Mr Burgess was in full time employment and enjoyed an active life.  His widow, Jackie Burgess explained: “He was always healthy and lived life to the full.  He went to the gym 2 or 3 times a week, played golf and swam regularly.  This all changed when he became unwell. That is why this illness came as such a shock to us.  He wasn’t himself, and it wasn’t his time to go.

He was diagnosed in September 2008, and got progressively worse.  He suffered for the next 4 months until he passed away in the New Year.  This has left such a huge hole in the family.”

Iain Shoolbred, from the Birmingham office of national law firm Irwin Mitchell, is representing the family in their claim for compensation.

Iain explained: “To find justice for Jackie and her family, it is vital that I have any information available regarding the work practices undertaken at Round Oak Steelworks from the late 1960s through to its closure in the 1980s. If anyone has any information, it is crucial that they come forward to help with these enquiries.

“Mesothelioma is a fatal illness that occurs years after exposure to asbestos has occurred. There is no safe level of exposure to asbestos.  Round Oaks employed thousands of men and women over the years and it would be helpful to speak to anyone who may have information.”

Anyone who worked with Roger Burgess and/or worked in the Round oaks Steelworks with information about the presence of asbestos should contact Iain Shoolbred at Irwin Mitchell solicitors via iain.shoolbred@irwinmitchell.com on 0370 1500 100.