Former Crossley Carpets Employee Suffering From Asbestos Disease Battles For Justice

Expert Lawyers Appeal For Information To Help Boost Investigation

24.06.2013

By Suzanne Rutter

A former Crossley Carpets labourer, who is coming to terms with the devastating news he is suffering from an incurable asbestos-related cancer, is appealing for his ex-colleagues to help lawyers investigate whether more could have been done to protect him from the deadly dust.

Gerald Brier was diagnosed with the debilitating illness mesothelioma, a cancer of the lining of the lungs, in August 2012 after suffering from breathlessness and chest pains for six months.

The 80-year-old, who is known as Gerry to his family and friends, believes he was exposed to asbestos while working for Crossley Carpets, based at Dean Clough in Halifax, between 1954 and 1969.

The father-of-two has now instructed specialist industrial disease lawyers at Irwin Mitchell to appeal for his ex-colleagues from Crossley Carpets to get in touch with information about how the company, which was established by John Crossley in 1802, used asbestos.

Katrina London, an industrial disease expert at Irwin Mitchell, said: “Mesothelioma is an aggressive and incurable cancer which causes so much distress for victims like Gerry who worked in old factories and mills 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 Gerry’s former co-workers from Crossley Carpets will come forward with information about how asbestos was used at the town’s mills so we can help get him the justice he deserves.”

He initially worked as a labourer at the firm, one of the world’s largest carpet mills, and was responsible for loading bails of jute, a natural fibre, into compressor machines which prepared the material for the weaving process.

In 1956, he was promoted and became a ‘carding’ machine operator, where he was again responsible for managing machines which passed the bails of jute through fine needles to soften it before it was made into backing for carpets.

He was promoted again two years later to a foreman at the factory and his job entailed allocating jobs to a team of weavers and repairing the machinery if it broke down.

During his career he recalled working in close proximity to the factory’s maze of asbestos-lagged pipe work. He also recalls the factory’s makeshift canteen, which was made from asbestos insulation boards, being demolished in 1954/55. He says the workmen demolishing the temporary building used hammers and crow bars to break it into pieces, but employees were not warned about how dangerous the resulting asbestos dust could be. 

Gerry, who was membership secretary of the local Ramblers’ Association before he fell ill, first started to show the symptoms of mesothelioma in March 2012 when he felt breathless whilst out walking. After further tests and scans at the Liverpool Heart and Chest Hospital he was told the tragic news on the 30th of August that he was suffering from mesothelioma.

He said: “My wife Enid and I were completely devastated about the diagnosis, particularly as we both thought that I just had a bad chest infection.  We never really thought I’d be suffering from a terminal illness and it’s been hard coming to terms with the reality that I might not have long left.

“I used to be so fit and healthy and could easily walk 10 miles without feeling tired. I now just want to enjoy what time I’ve got left with Enid, our children and four grandchildren, but I also hope my ex-colleagues will come forward to confirm my recollections about how asbestos was used at Crossley’s so I can get the justice I deserve.”

Anyone with information about how asbestos was used at Crossley Carpets at Dean Clough should contact Katrina London at Irwin Mitchell on 0161 838 7262 or email Katrina.London@irwinmitchell.com

Read more about Irwin Mitchell’s expertise related to Mesothelioma Compensation Claims