Loved Ones And Lawyers Call For Workplace Safety To Come First
The family of a former asbestos removal worker from Pontefract who died two years ago from mesothelioma have joined with lawyers to urge employers to mark Workers’ Memorial Day by renewing their commitment to health and safety.
Taking place on April 28th, Workers’ Memorial Day is a chance to ‘remember the dead and to fight for the living’ by paying respects to those who have died as a result of their employment and continuing to improve health and safety standards in the workplace.
Among those who will be marking the day is the family of Stuart Monkman, from Pontefract, who died aged 50 in August 2016 just months after medical experts confirmed he had developed mesothelioma – a cancer of the lining of the lung associated with asbestos exposure.
Prior to this death, Stuart revealed his exposure was likely linked to asbestos removal work he undertook in the 1980s for Hertel UK. He outlined how he was never given training or briefings before jobs and also on some occasions not even provided with protective equipment.
Specialist asbestos-related disease lawyers at Irwin Mitchell are currently working to secure justice for Stuart’s family related to the work.
Fay Marshall, an asbestos-related disease expert at Irwin Mitchell’s Leeds office who is representing the family, said:
Expert Opinion“While so much has been done to improve health and safety in the UK across recent years, it is an unfortunate truth that thousands of people still die each year as a result of working in unsafe conditions.
“As well as highlighting the devastating consequences that asbestos exposure can have, Stuart’s story is an important reminder of how the provision of the right training, equipment and support can make a huge difference to the safety of workers.
“It is vital that employers mark Workers’ Memorial Day by thinking again about their commitment to health and safety and also reaffirming their responsibility to keep their staff properly protected from all potential risks.” Fay Marshall - Solicitor
Before he passed away, Stuart told lawyers at Irwin Mitchell how his work involved removing asbestos from a range of sites including power stations such as Drakelow A and B in Derbyshire and Neepsend in South Yorkshire.
He recalled undertaking some tasks without any safety equipment or clothing, as well as instances when he had equipment but was not given proper advice on fitting it. Although he would work on jobs where a huge amount of dust was released, Stuart believed that the decontamination process was not done properly, with the tents used on the jobs not sealed properly, or taken down properly.
Stuart’s wife of 10 years, Kathleen, 52, said: “Stuart first started to develop breathlessness late in 2015 and his condition deteriorated rapidly from that point onwards. He lost a huge amount of weight and needed help with every day-to-day task you can imagine.
“It got to the point where he could barely speak due to his breathlessness and he also went on to develop other issues like bed sores. It was just devastating for me and the rest of the family to see him in this way and it is shocking to think this all happened as a result of this work.
“It is now nearly two years since we lost him and not a day goes by that we do not think about him. You simply cannot help but wonder what our lives would be like if he was still here and we miss him so much.
“Every event, like birthdays, Christmas and weddings, is a reminder that he should be here with us. He also never got the chance to meet his second grandson, who was born in November last year– and that it is particularly hard to take.
“We just hope that by raising awareness of our story, employers will treat the health and safety of workers as the important issue it is. Paying lip service to the matter is not enough and businesses have to ensure that proper training, equipment and safety advice is always offered.
“As Stuart’s death shows, the consequences of failing to do so can be massive.”
Read more about Irwin Mitchell's expertise in mesothelioma claims.