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Widow Appeals For Husband’s Ex Work Colleagues To Help Investigation

Former Industrial Worker Contracted Tuberculosis After Exposure To Silica Dust


The widow of a former industrial worker has joined forces with specialist industrial disease lawyers to call for her husband’s ex colleagues to come forward with information about the working conditions he endured after years of exposure to silica dust led to his death.

Charles Earley, who was 69 when he passed away in April 2010, had contracted the lung infection tuberculosis as a result of his exposure to silica dust while working as a cutter at the BSA Foundry Ltd metal castings factory in Faverdale, Darlington, between 1979 and 1992.

His wife Joan, from Spennymoor, County Durham, has instructed industrial illness experts at Irwin Mitchell who are now searching for anyone who worked with Charles at the foundry, then owned by engineering company Manganese Bronze, or anyone who has any information on the working conditions at the factory or the presence of silica dust.

Emma Crowther, an industrial illness expert at the firm’s Newcastle office, said: “We are appealing for information from anyone who worked at the BSA Foundry in the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s as they may be able to provide vital information about the working conditions at the factory so that we can help get Joan the justice for her husband she desperately wants to achieve.

“TB kills nearly a million and a half people every year, despite it being a largely preventable and curable disease if identified and treated quickly. If Charles’ employers had done more to protect him from the dangers of silica dust, or warned him about the detrimental affect it could have on his health, then his death could have been prevented. Even if he had been informed that he may have contracted the disease he could have been treated much sooner.

“TB is also a contagious disease which put Charles’ family at risk. Thankfully tests have cleared them, but it could have been even worse.”

Charles worked at the factory between 1979 and 1998 as a cutter and janitor, and his work often involved him cutting the metal castings produced in the foundry.

Foundry workers are one of the groups most at risk of silicosis and Charles was regularly exposed to the silica dust used during a process to clean and smooth irregularities from foundry castings.

Joan said: “We didn’t even know about the silicosis or that Charles had contracted TB until the post-mortem. It made me so angry to think that it all could have been avoided if the foundry had just taken some basic precautions.

“Even if we’ve known that TB was a risk, we could’ve got him tested and treated much earlier, and he might’ve still been with us today.”

Charles was originally treated for lung disease in the mid-1990s and although he lived with breathing difficulties for another 15 years, his health quickly deteriorated after he was admitted to hospital for treatment on a leg wound in April 2010.

She added: “The night before he died he had been in hospital receiving treatment but he was up laughing and joking with us and still seemed quite lively. The next day we got the call to say he had passed away that night, which was devastating.

“Looking back, his condition had impacted upon his life for several years. He couldn’t walk very far and even getting down to and arranging his model train set, which he loved dearly, became too much for him.

“Charles worked incredibly hard at the foundry for over 20 years to provide for us so it’s upsetting to know his job cost him his life. Nothing we do can bring him back, but I just hope that with the help of his ex work mates we can secure some justice in his name.”

Anyone with information about the working conditions at the BSA Foundry Ltd between 1979 and 1992 should contact Crowther at Irwin Mitchell’s Newcastle office on 0191 279 0104 or email Emma.Crowther@IrwinMitchell.com.