Former Builder Diagnosed With Asbestosis Appeals For Ex-Colleagues To Help Investigation

Industrial Illness Specialists At Law Firm Irwin Mitchell Working With Ex Construction Worker in Battle for Justice


A former construction worker coming to terms with the devastating news he is suffering from asbestosis has appealed for his ex-work colleagues to help investigate how he was exposed to the deadly dust.

Ralph Kerr, of Kenton in Newcastle, was diagnosed with the asbestos-related condition in  June 2013 after experiencing shortness of breath and chest infections for a number of months.

Industrial illness experts at Irwin Mitchell representing the 65-year-old believe his illness was caused by exposure to asbestos during the 1960s and 1970s whilst working on various construction sites in the North East.

In particular, they believe Ralph may have come into contact with the deadly dust during his time working for TW Hadden between 1963 and 1964, Thomas Clemence & Sons between 1964 and 1969, Anderson between 1969 and 1970 and Mitchell Construction from 1972 to 1974.

The grandfather-of-three is now working with lawyers at Irwin Mitchell to appeal for information from his former colleagues who may be able to confirm the presence of asbestos in his working environment on the site.

Ralph said: “I’ve been working on construction sites in the North East since I was only a young lad and in the early part of my career I was never warned about the dangers of asbestos, nor was I given any protection equipment while working around it.

“I didn’t always work directly with the substance myself but the way construction sites worked in those days involved all sorts of different tradesman working on site at any one time. I believe that I inhaled the dust during a number of projects throughout the 1960s and 1970s and it has now had a devastating impact on my health in later life.

“It is heart-breaking to know that asbestos exposure can lead to such a chronic and incurable illness later in life and it has left me extremely concerned that I am at high risk of developing a malignant asbestos related cancer like mesothelioma. I feel it is important to find out exactly how I was exposed to the dust and why more wasn’t done to prevent it happening.”

Ralph began his career in the building trade after leaving school as 15-year-old in 1963 with TW Hadden in Newcastle and he recalls working as a labourer on projects at Close House, near Wylam and Netherton Farm. It is on these projects that Ralph first recalls encountering the deadly dust as part of work to remove old pipes that had been lagged with asbestos wraps.

After leaving TW Hadden, he joined Thomas Clarence and Sons in 1964 where he believes he again came into contact with asbestos during work to insulate fireplaces and while working in close proximity to joiners at the firm who were cutting asbestos sheets to use for fireproofing purposes on a number of building projects.

Ralph continued to work in close proximity to the substance in his time at Anderson from 1969 and 1970, and he again recalls the dusty environment created by joiners cutting asbestos as part of work to refurbish a cinema in Birtley and to build an extension on the caretaker’s home at Manor Park School in Heaton.

The 65-year-old’s last believed exposure to the asbestos dust came during his time with Mitchell Construction where he worked on the refurbishment of the main office block of the DWP offices in Benton.

The work involved stripping out ceiling tiles and pipework which Ralph believes were lagged with asbestos. The removal work caused the asbestos to break up leading to an abundance of the deadly dust in the building. 

Roger Maddocks, an expert asbestos lawyer at Irwin Mitchell’s Newcastle office leading the case, said: “Ralph’s asbestosis diagnosis was inevitably a devastating blow to his family and quite rightly he is looking for answers and for somebody to take responsibility for causing his illness.

“We’re keen to speak to anybody who worked with Ralph during his time with the companies listed above as we believe they may hold vital evidence about the presence of asbestos and the working conditions he faced.

“Companies have been well aware of the dangers of asbestos since as far back as the 1950s so there is no excuse for him not being protected from the material and nobody should suffer from such a serious illness as a result of their commitment to work and the grafting they put in for their employers.”

Anyone who thinks they can help is asked to contact Roger Maddocks at Irwin Mitchell on 0191 279 0095 or email

Our specialist asbestosis lawyers will provide you with free initial advice on your compensation claim if you or a loved on has been diagnosed with asbestosis caused by asbestos exposure. See our Asbestos-Related Disease Claims Guide for more information.