Step-Son Seeks Answers And Justice Ahead Of Workers’ Memorial Day For ‘One In A Million’ Stepdad
The stepson of a former melting shop worker from Sheffield is appealing to his dad’s old workmates for help in discovering how he encountered the asbestos that claimed his life.
Michael Hallam, 76, from Malin Bridge in Sheffield died after being diagnosed with mesothelioma, a terminal cancer of the lining of the lungs associated with exposure to asbestos, often decades previously.
Following Michael’s death, his stepson, Wayne Smith, 54, from Deepcar, Sheffield, instructed asbestos-related disease specialists at Irwin Mitchell to investigate where Michael could have encountered the substance that claimed his life.
Wayne has now joined the legal team ahead of this year’s Workers’ Memorial Day on 28 April in asking any former colleagues of Michael who have details of his working conditions to come forward and aid the investigation.
They are particularly keen to trace anyone who worked with Michael in the melting shop at Firth Brown on Savile Street, Sheffield, from 1960 until 1982.
Held every year, Workers’ Memorial Day brings together workers and their families from all over the world to remember the dead and fight for the living. The theme for 2022 is to make safe and healthy work a fundamental right.
Expert Opinion“Michael’s death vividly highlights the terrible legacy asbestos has created.
“Wayne and Michael were very close, so his stepdad’s death, coming so soon after that of Michael’s wife and Wayne’s mum Irene has made this a very challenging time for the whole family.
“Michael was so focused and dedicated to caring for Irene that he kept his own mesothelioma diagnosis to himself until the end.
“Nothing can bring Michael back but we are determined to help Wayne establish the answers he’s looking for.
“Any detail former work colleagues can provide could prove vital to the investigation and would mean so much to Wayne as he struggles to come to terms with Michael’s death.” Nick Woods - Associate Paralegal
Firth Brown was a well-known landmark from Sheffield’s steel history and ultimately became part of Sheffield Forgemasters. A forging hammer from the firm can still be seen on the roadside in Brightside.
As a ladle man, Michael’s job involved filling the ladles with molten metal from the furnaces and transporting them to the casting pits. His job called for him to strip down the ladle brickwork on a regular basis, which exposed him to asbestos, as the firebricks used contained asbestos.
Michael would use a jackhammer to strip down the brickwork, which resulted in the release of asbestos dust.
Michael’s health began to deteriorate in 2020 and in January 2021, he was told it was likely that he had mesothelioma and that a biopsy would be needed to confirm the diagnosis. Sadly he was admitted to hospital before this could happen and was never well enough for the procedure.
Michael died on 2 February, 2021, less than a week after Irene’s funeral and his mesothelioma diagnosis was confirmed following his death.
Speaking about the appeal and his stepfather, Wayne Smith said: “Michael raised me as his son for 42 years and he and I were really close. His death coming so soon after my Mum has been a real blow.
“They were devoted to one another. It was not a surprise to learn that Michael missed some of his own hospital appointments for his mesothelioma so he could continue to care for Mum and stay with her in the hospice.
“Dad was a strong and brave man, and too proud to ask for help. While it’s a shock that he kept his diagnosis to himself, it’s typical that he would put Irene first and not wish to worry me or the rest of the family. He was one in a million and it’s awful that he had to live with this alone while caring for Mum to the last.
“I know Dad was determined to fight his illness but was robbed of the chance and never had the opportunity to give his own account of his asbestos exposure or pursue his case. If anyone out there has information that could help us, it would be much appreciated.”
This year’s Workers’ Memorial Day is aiming to make safe and healthy work a fundamental right, ensuring that every working person knows they have a right to expect that everything is done to keep them safe at work.
Anyone with information that could help Michael and the family is asked to contact Nick Woods at Irwin Mitchell on 0114 274 4292 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Find out more about Irwin Mitchell's expertise in handling asbestos-related disease cases