Former British and Glues Chemicals Employee Suffering From Leukaemia Seeks Justice After Exposure To Dangerous Chemicals

Wigan Man Appeals For Former Colleagues To Help With Investigation


A former fitter who has been diagnosed with a form of blood cancer is appealing for former colleagues to come forward to help with an investigation into whether his illness may have been caused by exposure to dangerous chemicals during his working life.

Michael Fernay, 65, from Shevington, Wigan was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukaemia (AML), a cancer of the blood cells, during March this year following a bone marrow biopsy. He now needs a blood transfusion around every two weeks.

Husband and father of four, Michael, has instructed industrial illness specialists at law firm Irwin Mitchell to seek justice as he believes the illness was caused by exposure to benzene, a known carcinogen, whilst working as a fitter.

Michael worked with British Glue & Chemicals at their Appley Bridge site in Wigan between 1964 to 1973. It is during this employment Michael believes he came into contact with benzene.  British Glues & Chemicals was acquired by Croda International in 1968.

Michael worked in the former benzene plant. He recalls being asked to remove pipe work on several occasions from the benzene plant for it to be used elsewhere in the factory.

Michael said: “I remember the pipework I worked on being covered in benzene residue.  Sometimes there was still benzene fluid in the pipes I was removing which spilt onto my overalls and hands. During my time working at the plant I don’t remember ever being supplied with protective clothing or given warnings about coming into contact with benzene.”

Michael lives with his wife Pauline, who has become his main carer, and says his life has been turned upside down. He is no longer able to work because of the high risk of contracting further illness and infection, placing a huge financial burden on the family. 

Katrina London, industrial illness specialist at Irwin Mitchell representing him, said: “Michael is extremely unwell and requires regular visits to hospital to undergo blood transfusions and needs an abundance of medication.

“Michael’s exposure to the chemical benzene could be the cause of his painful and life limiting disease.  Exposure to benzene was known to be dangerous when Michael was employed by British Glues & Chemicals and not providing Michael with the relevant protection is simply unacceptable.

“We would urge anyone who may have worked for British Glues & Chemicals during the mid 60s to the mid 70s at the Appleby site, to come forward with further information about the working conditions that Mr Fernay faced.”

Michael spoke of his ordeal: ““Having AML has completely changed not only my life but the lives of my family as they are constantly looking after me, instead of me taking care of them. Now knowing how much of a catastrophic effect that exposure to benzene seems to have had, I just want to obtain justice for myself and for my family.”

Anybody with relevant information should contact Katrina London at Irwin Mitchell on
0161 838 7262 or email