Mum-Of-Two In Plea For Former Workmates At Houghton-le-Spring Factory To Come Forward
A former factory worker from Chester-Le-Street diagnosed with occupational asthma is making an appeal for witnesses, as her legal team commence High Court proceedings on her behalf.
Janet Scott, 54, a mother of two from Pelton, started to become short of breath and developed a cough in the spring of 2018. Following consulting her GP and medical investigations at North Durham Hospital, Janet was diagnosed with occupational asthma in April 2018.
Following her diagnosis, Janet instructed specialist lawyers at Irwin Mitchell to investigate how she came to develop the condition and if it was linked to her working with solvents and fumes.
As her legal team commence High Court proceedings, Janet is keen to trace former workmates from Connor Solutions who may know more about the working conditions she encountered to in 29 years of service.
Janet’s appeal comes ahead of World Asthma Day on Wednesday 5 May.
Janet worked at Connor Solutions Limited - formerly known as Lucas, ACT Europe and SIEBE - as a solderer, from 1987 until 1999. Located on Dugmire Industrial Estate, Fence Houses, Houghton Le Spring, the firm moved to new premises on Gladwell Road, Rainton Bridge, when Connor Solutions took over the business in 1999.
Forced to leave work to care for her youngest son who was ill, Janet returned to work for the company in 2003 until her she stopped working as a result of her own illness in July 2020.
Janet is spurred on thinking of her former colleagues who still work at the plant, including her own younger sister, June McKitten, 49.
Expert Opinion“Janet’s story will be all too familiar with many clients we have supported who went on to develop occupational asthma as a result of their working life.
"We remain determined to provide answers for Janet and her family regarding how she went on to develop the condition and have commenced High Court proceedings on her behalf.
“To build up as full a picture as possible about Janet’s diagnosis we would like to hear from her former colleagues regarding the working conditions she may have faced at Connor Solutions.
“It is not too late for any former colleagues who worked at the company at the same time as Janet to come forward. Any detail even at this stage could prove vital as Janet moves into the final stages of her case and the search for the answers she deserves.” Roger Maddocks - Partner
Janet has lived in County Durham all her life and has two sons, Kevin Scott, 28, and Michael Scott, 25.
Janet’s mother got her a job at Lucas in October 1987, shortly before her 21st birthday. Subsequently, the company changed its name to ACT Europe; then SIEBE and finally Connor Solutions Limited in about 1999.
Components were made for companies manufacturing white goods. Janet would solder small circuit boards for vacuum cleaners and washing machines. After a year or so there was a change to the firm creating larger circuit boards for everything from trains, sound systems and medical equipment, to boards for the aircraft industry.
Janet told her legal team that she believed the exposure to the fumes from solder was considerable and was all lead-based until her return to work in 2003, when a non-lead solder was introduced.
Commenting on her experience, Janet said: “The last few years since my diagnosis have been a real challenge for me and the whole family. It’s been a long process, but while it feels like we are nearing the finish line, it would be a huge help if others could come forward.
“It was a busy area, but I worked there for many years and I hope that even if people don’t remember me, they would remember the conditions we all worked in together.
“The fumes from the solder were considerable, so strong that you could smell and taste them. Fumes also came from flux cleaner and solvents, used for cleaning and dispensed from aerosols. This, plus the varnish fumes made for a potent mix and while I and others made complaints, I believe nothing was done. There was no health screening or respiratory equipment and I don’t think I was ever warned of the risk of the fumes.
“If anyone does see this and could help, it would mean a lot to me to hear from them and might inspire others to come forward too.”
Anyone with information is asked to contact Chloe McLaren on 0191 434 0704 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
World Asthma Day on 5 May is an important time to reflect on the issues of occupational asthma and to improve asthma awareness.