Grandfather And Legal Team Call For More To Be Done To Protect School Staff And Pupils
A retired caretaker is calling for more to be done to protect school staff and pupils from asbestos after lawyers secured him a settlement in connection with his exposure to the hazardous material.
Father-of-two and grandfather-of-four Roger Chandler-Jones worked at two schools in Bristol for more than 40 years.
Asbestos-related disease lawyers secure settlement for Bristol school worker
After he was diagnosed with asbestosis – a life-changing illness characterised by scarring of the lungs following asbestos exposure – Roger instructed expert lawyers at Irwin Mitchell to investigate.
Now, after his legal team secured a settlement from Bristol City Council in connection with his illness, Roger, 79, of Henleaze, Bristol, has called on local authorities to do everything they can to ensure asbestos is always properly managed. The local authority’s insurers admitted liability for Roger’s asbestos exposure.
His calls come after The Government’s Work and Pensions select committee agreed to launch its own investigation into asbestos in schools following evidence from campaigners that conditions caused by asbestos are the biggest health and safety risk in the UK.
200 teachers died as result of asbestos exposure
In December 2019 a report by think tank ResPublica, found more than 200 teachers have died in the last 10 years as a result of asbestos exposure. It added that for each teacher affected, nine ex-pupils can be expected to fall victim.
Expert Opinion“While many people often associate asbestos with heavy industry its use was widespread in public buildings such as schools, hospitals and offices.
“As Roger’s case highlights, asbestos in schools is hugely concerning issue. We’ve seen incidents when support staff, teachers and even former pupils have been affected, not just by asbestosis but other diseases including mesothelioma, an incurable form of cancer linked to asbestos.
“Worryingly given the long latency period of asbestos-related diseases it may be many more years before we know just how lethal this secondary exposure may prove to be in terms of human suffering.
“We have long campaigned for the Government to introduce a full risk register to document the presence of asbestos in public buildings including schools, and for that the register to be maintained through a programme of regular and robust inspections.
“We support Roger in campaigning for more to be done to protect school workers and pupils. While nothing can make up for what he’s been through we also hope that Roger’s settlement will provide him with some reassurance that his future care needs because of his illness will be met.” Virginia Chalmers - Partner
Asbestosis: Roger Chandler Jones' story
Roger had several different jobs before he became a caretaker at Westbury Park Junior School in 1965.
Roger, who is married to Jill, 76, said: “My father had been a caretaker, so I was following in his footsteps in a way. I had all manner of duties, from security and heating to managing the cleaners on the site.
“I worked daily in the boiler room and the pipework was all covered in asbestos lagging. I had a range of tasks and sometimes there was simply no way to stop the lagging from being disturbed and knocked. I also remember a period when the boiler was replaced and that may have released fibres too.”
In 1971, Roger started work at Henleaze Infant and Junior School and remained there until his retirement in 2006. Again, he recalled pipes and boilers lagged with asbestos, as well as underground ducts and hot water tanks that featured the material. There were also prefabricated classrooms that had asbestos roofing.
School caretaker diagnosed with asbestosis
He started having breathing problems shortly after returning from a holiday in 2016. After several years of tests and investigations, he was diagnosed with asbestosis in February 2019.
Roger added: “Throughout my working life I was never warned about the dangers of asbestos, so it is devastating that I have developed this condition.
“I feel like my breathlessness has only worsened in recent years and while I try to stay active, I only feel comfortable if Jill is with me. I used to go swimming but have had to give that up and would always be ready to carry out jobs round the house and DIY tasks.
“However, now even walking to the local shop for a paper is a struggle and Jill has commented that I have less of a get up and go attitude than I had before.
Bristol school worker's asbestos warning
“The settlement is very welcome, but I hope that lessons can be learned from a case like mine. The issue of asbestos in schools is incredibly serious and the safety of everyone on such sites should always be the top priority. No one else should suffer like I have.”
Find out more about our expertise in supporting people with asbestosis at our dedicated asbestos-related disease section. Alternatively to speak to an expert contact us or call 0370 1500 100.