South Yorkshire Coke Oven Worker Died From Industrial Disease

Over 90 South Yorkshire Coking Plant Workers Suffering Illness Problems Now Taking Legal Action


Dave Grimshaw, Press Officer | 0114 274 4397

The widow of a man who died of an industrial disease caused by working on the coke ovens from the 1970s through to the late 1980s says she wants to raise awareness of the support that victims and their families can receive as she takes legal action against his former employers.

An inquest in April this year ruled that South Yorkshire man Terry Jones died of lung cancer in October 2013 aged 54 after working for 12 years on the oven tops first at Brookhouse and then at Orgreave coking plant.

More than 150 former coke oven workers and their families from across the country have instructed specialist law firm Irwin Mitchell to take legal action against British Steel and British Coal , as they believe that the cancers and respiratory diseases they are now suffering from were caused by exposure to harmful dust and fumes.

The group action legal case follows a High Court Judgment against a phurnacite plant in South Wales in 2012, which ruled the Coal Board had not done enough to protect workers from fumes.

David Johnston-Keay, a specialist solicitor at Irwin Mitchell’s Sheffield office representing Mr Jones’ widow, said:

Expert Opinion
Terry had worked for 12 years on the oven tops breathing in the potent fumes. Many workers were put at risk of serious and terminal illness by working for long periods of their careers on the coke ovens, and in particular the oven tops where the fumes were at their worst.

“The Industrial Injuries Advisory Council believes that the risk of illness is doubled when an oven top worker had spent five years or more on top of the ovens. The inquest has examined Terry’s career and has now confirmed that his work contributed to his illness.

“Hundreds of former workers are now suffering from terrible conditions simply because of the work they carried out on a day-to-day basis from the 1950s right through to the 1980s and 90s. Employees have a basic right to be able to go to work and return home safely at the end of the day. We continue to represent many people in a battle for justice and to provide for their families in future as they are now suffering from diseases after working on the coke ovens.”
David Johnston-Keay, Associate

As Irwin Mitchell gathers evidence in the legal cases Terry’s widow Marie, says she wants to raise awareness of the help and support that former coke oven workers can receive.

Marie Jones from Killamarsh, said: “Before his death Terry had described his working conditions as horrendous as it was so dusty and dirty and the fumes were overwhelming, but they were only given small dust masks which did very little to protect us.

“We were devastated when we found out about the terminal cancer and it was a massive shock to us both. It’s been a very difficult past few years as we have tried to come to terms with it.

“Finding out that his cancer was caused by simply going to work every day is so difficult to take and I can’t believe he wasn’t better protected. Hopefully now the legal action will provide all the victims and their families the justice we deserve and I hope all those affected by similar circumstances to Terry will seek out the advice of specialists as there is help and support out there for them.”

If you have any information on the working conditions at the Brookhouse and Orgreave coking plants please call David Johnston-Keay at Irwin Mitchell on 0114 274 4211 or email as you may be able to help with the investigations to help victims.

If you worked extensively on or around coke ovens and have since become ill, our industrial disease & illness claims solicitors could help you claim compensation. See our Coke Oven Workers Compensation page for more information.