Bristol Man Begins Battle For Asbestos Justice

Grandfather Appeals To Former Colleagues For Help After Being Diagnosed With Lung Disease

09.07.2012

A grandfather-of-10 who has been diagnosed with an asbestos related disease that causes the lining of the lungs to thicken leaving him short of breath and unable to enjoy a normal family life is asking his former colleagues for help as he launches a battle for justice.

Robert Overfield, from Bristol, worked as a labourer and a mechanic in the 1970s and 80s and remembers regularly inhaling deadly asbestos dust and fibres throughout his employment.

With the help of industrial illness experts at law firm Irwin Mitchell the 51-year-old is now appealing to his former colleagues to get in touch as they may hold vital evidence that will provide answers as to how he was exposed to asbestos and why he has been diagnosed with pleural thickening, which causes the lungs to stop working efficiently.

Robert worked in the Bendix factory in Kingswood (now known as Knorr Bremse) from 1982 to 1986 employed by John Young Contractors Ltd carrying out building and maintenance work.

The married father-of-four said: “I have always been active so I knew something was seriously wrong when I couldn’t even walk to the end of my street without getting out of breath.

“When I was diagnosed with pleural thickening my wife and I were heartbroken. We have a large family and love spending time with them and playing with the youngsters but I get tired very easily now which makes it very difficult.

“One of my jobs at the Bendix factory was to strip off asbestos corrugated roof sheets and replace them with new ones. I also had to strip off asbestos lagging from old pipes in the factory which caused large asbestos clouds that I couldn’t avoid inhaling.

“I wasn’t warned of the dangers of working with asbestos or provided with proper breathing equipment so I had no idea of the long term damage that was being caused to my lungs.

“I don’t know what my future holds - I am unable to work like I used to and I am worried about being able to provide for my family. I hope my former colleagues get in touch so I can see that justice is done and I will have peace of mind knowing my family is financially stable.”

Robert also did a four-year apprenticeship as a car mechanic at Dutton Forshaw in Bristol between 1976 and 1979 where he remembers being exposed to asbestos brake linings and clutch linings on motor vehicles. When the firm ceased trading he moved to Henley’s Cheltenham Road from 1979 to 1981 and former colleagues are asked to come forward for all of the places where Mr Overfield worked.

Helen Grady, a specialist asbestos lawyer at Irwin Mitchell’s Bristol office is representing Robert in his battle for justice. She said: “Pleural thickening is a debilitating lung condition caused by exposure to asbestos and we are sadly seeing more and more people diagnosed with the disease.

“In order to gain justice for Robert and his family we need information about the working practices of his employers John Young Contractors at the Bendix factory, Dutton Forshaw and Henley’s in the 1970s and 1980s.

“It was a legal requirement for employers to provide staff at risk from asbestos with breathing equipment by the 1980s so there is no excuse for Robert not to have been given any, or for him not to be warned about the dangers.

“We are hoping that Robert’s former work colleagues will be able to help us successfully settle the case and I appeal to them to get in touch with information, no matter how small, as it may help Robert gain the answers he desperately wants about why he is now suffering from lung disease.”

Anyone with information should call Helen Grady at Irwin Mitchell on 0370 1500 100 or email Helen.grady@irwinmitchell.com.