Former Joiner Suffering From Mesothelioma Appeals For Information About Asbestos Exposure

Expert Lawyers Join 85-Year-Old In His Battle For Justice

04.07.2013

By Dave Grimshaw

An ex-joiner and carpenter coming to terms with the devastating news he is suffering from an incurable asbestos-related cancer, is appealing for his former colleagues to come forward with vital information about his exposure to the deadly dust to help in his battle for justice.

Andrew Scott, of North Northumberland, was diagnosed with mesothelioma in April 2013 after tests were carried out at North Tyneside General Hospital to find out why he was feeling constantly breathless.

The 85-year-old says he regularly came into contact with asbestos during his career as a carpenter and joiner in the 1940’s and 1950’s when he worked for carpenter and joinery firm J & A Gray in Coldstream, Berwickshire, and building companies Jeffcock and Havery which were based in the Newcastle area. 

He has now instructed specialist industrial disease lawyers at Irwin Mitchell and together they are appealing for his ex work mates to come forward with any further information about his working conditions, and whether anything more could have been done to protect him from the deadly dust, in the run-up to Action Mesothelioma Day on Friday, 5th July.

Andrew began his apprenticeship in joinery at J & A Gray in 1942 when he left school aged 14. He stayed at the firm for five years and his job entailed cutting and fitting corrugated roofing sheets onto the roofs of new buildings. He particularly remembers working on a new dairy in Coldstream, where he had to cut asbestos sheets to size.

Between 1947 and 1949 he worked for Newcastle building firm Jeffcock as a carpenter during a major local authority housing scheme, to build homes in Stobhill. He was responsible for fixing asbestos ‘soffits’ to roofs and would have to saw through large asbestos sheets covered in the deadly dust.

He also believes he was exposed to asbestos while employed by Havery as a joiner between 1953 and 1954 where he worked on new housing developments in Longframlington and Whittingham where he was also responsible for cutting asbestos sheets to size to fix to roof timbers.

Isobel Lovett, an expert industrial disease lawyer at Irwin Mitchell representing him, said: “Mesothelioma is an aggressive and incurable cancer which causes so much distress for victims like Andrew who worked in the building trade where we believe asbestos was regularly used.

“Sadly, many employers did not do enough to manage the risks of asbestos exposure despite knowing how dangerous it is.

“We hope that Andrew’s former colleagues will come forward to help us prove that more could have been done to protect employees like him from the deadly effects of asbestos so we can get him the justice he deserves.

“Action Mesothelioma Day is a time to reflect on those who have lost their lives or have being diagnosed with the dreadful disease. It is also a time to push for further help and support for victims and we will continue to campaign and fight for our clients access to justice.”

Andrew, who retired from the building trade in 1991, first started to show the symptoms of mesothelioma in August 2011 when he began to feel breathless.  He had fluid drained from his lungs in September 2011 and March 2013 with further tests and scans confirming he had mesothelioma in April 2013.

Andrew said: “I was shocked when I got the mesothelioma diagnosis because I had never realised that the asbestos I was working with was so dangerous.

“But I’ve worked with asbestos during my career at three different companies, whether it was cutting it to size or drilling holes in it for various building projects throughout the North East. My jobs were always so dirty and dusty and I couldn’t help but breathe the asbestos dust in.

“I was never warned how dangerous it could be for my health or given a mask or special clothing to protect me from the worst of it.

“It’s devastating to think I’m suffering from this terrible illness simply because I’ve worked hard all my life. My breathlessness has eased now the fluid has been drained from my lungs, but I still have a persistent cough which keeps me awake at night.

“I used to be a DIY fanatic and loved gardening and going out for walks, but I don’t have the energy I used to. I just hope my ex work mates will come forward with information to confirm how asbestos was used by the firms I worked at.”

Anyone with information about the working conditions at J & A Gray, Jeffcock and Havery should contact Isobel Lovett at Irwin Mitchell’s Newcastle office on 0191 279 0104 or email isobel.lovett@irwinmitchell.com.

Read more about Irwin Mitchell's expertise in mesothelioma claims.