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Pipe Fitter In Battle For Justice After Mother Killed By Second-Hand Asbestos Exposure

Retired Machinist Died After Washing Husband And Son’s Contaminated Overalls


The son of a woman who died from an asbestos-related cancer after washing the contaminated overalls he and his dad wore to work is calling for his father’s former work colleagues to help expert lawyers at Irwin Mitchell in his fight for justice.

Mabel Hughes passed away on 1 February 2012 aged 91 after a three-month battle with the debilitating disease mesothelioma – 11 years after her husband Frank died from the same illness caused by exposure to the deadly asbestos dust.

It is believed Mabel, of Red Hall Walk, Leeds, came into contact with asbestos while washing Frank and their son Howard’s work clothes which were often covered in the deadly dust. Both father and son worked at Rosser & Russell Ltd as pipe fitters and welders. 

Howard, 64, has instructed industrial illness experts from Irwin Mitchell and together they are appealing for any former employees of Rosser & Russell Ltd to come forward with information about working conditions at the company.

Frank began working for Leeds-based Rosser and Russell in 1952, where he was responsible for maintaining and installing heating systems in offices, schools and public buildings.  He regularly worked with asbestos during his three decades at the firm as the material was used as insulation for the pipework.

His son joined him at the company in 1964 for five years as an apprentice pipe fitter.  Every Friday, Frank and Howard brought home their dusty boiler suits home for Mabel to clean, which sadly exposed Mabel to asbestos every week for 30 years as no one warned them about the dangers.

Howard said: “My mother started to lose a lot of weight, and it was extremely distressing to see her in so much pain. By the end, it was so bad that she had to be visited by two district nurses to administer morphine drips to help her through the day.

“Mum was fiercely independent, and lived on her own right up until she was diagnosed. Even when she was suffering she didn’t want to go into hospital, so my sister and her husband moved in with my mother to allow her to stay in her own home and keep the independence she treasured.

“If it wasn’t for the disease, I know she would still be living on her own despite being 91 years old.”

James Hemming, an industrial disease specialist at Irwin Mitchell, said: “Not only did Frank Hughes die as a result of the asbestos he was exposed to, his wife has also sadly died of the same condition, despite never working directly with the material herself.

“Frank was working hard to provide for his family, and Mabel was caring for her husband and son. Through no fault of their own they were exposed to something which would eventually take their lives.

“This is unfortunately a scenario we see all too often, and it is such a tragedy that asbestos has torn this family apart.

“If anyone worked at Rosser & Rosser during the 1950s, 1960s, 1970s and 1980s, or has any information regarding the working conditions employees at the company experienced during that time, then we would urge them to get in touch so we help Howard get justice for his mum.”

If you have any information on Rosser & Rosser, please contact James Hemming on 0113 394 6777 or email James.Hemming@IrwinMitchell.com.

Our expert asbestos lung cancer claims team will provide you with free initial advice on your compensation claim if you or a loved on has been diagnosed with lung cancer caused by asbestos exposure. See our Asbestos-Related Disease Claims Guide for more information.