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Former Caravan Builder Appeals To Ex Colleagues To Help Asbestos Investigation

Expert Industrial Disease Lawyers Help In Battle For Justice


By Suzanne Rutter

A former caravan builder suffering from a debilitating industrial illness caused by asbestos exposure is appealing for his ex colleagues to help expert lawyers investigate his exposure to the deadly dust and whether more could potentially have been done by his employers to protect him.

Robert Turner, known as Bob, of Hull in North Humberside, was diagnosed with pleural thickening, which causes the lining of the lungs to thicken leaving him short of breath.

The 65-year-old believes the incurable condition may have been caused by coming into contact with asbestos during his career as a ‘tinner’ in the finishing department at Astral Caravans, based in Lorraine Street in Hull, where he worked between 1963 and 1971. He also remembers working with asbestos at ABI Caravans in Beverley, which is now known as ABI UK Ltd.  Bob worked at ABI Caravans in the finishing department from 1973 until November 2012, when he was signed off work due to his illness.

The father-of-two has now instructed specialist industrial disease lawyers at Irwin Mitchell and together they are appealing for his ex colleagues to come forward with information about the working practices at Astral and ABI Caravans.

Nicola Handley, an industrial disease lawyer at Irwin Mitchell’s Leeds office representing him, said: “Pleural thickening is a debilitating lung condition which is caused by exposure to asbestos and we are sadly seeing more and more people diagnosed with the disease.

“Industrial illnesses like pleural thickening can have a devastating impact on the lives of victims like Bob whose health and lifestyle has been completely changed more than 40 years after he believes he was exposed to the deadly dust.

“In order to gain answers for Bob we need information about the working practices at Astral and ABI Caravans.”

At Astral Caravans, one of the biggest mobile home manufacturing companies in the region, Bob recalls helping to build touring and static vehicles and he was a ‘tinner’ working on a production line fitting the interior furnishings in the mobile homes.

He worked directly alongside other labourers in the machine shop who were responsible for cutting large asbestos sheets, creating a dirty and dusty environment to work in.

At ABI Caravans he again worked on a production line next to the finishing department and cabinet shop where he recalls asbestos sheets being used to insulate areas in the caravan.

Bob first started to show the symptoms of pleural thickening in May 2012 when he suffered a persistent cough. Further tests and scans at the Castle Hill Hospital in East Yorkshire confirmed he was suffering from pleural thickening. Doctors also warned he also showed the early signs of asbestosis, a chronic lung condition caused by prolonged exposure to asbestos. He has not been able to return to work for seven months.

Bob said: “My condition has had a massive impact on my life and I find it difficult to undertake normal daily activities as I did before.  I’m trying to manage as best I can but to think it might have been caused by simply going to work more than 40 years ago is a complete shock. 

“The working environment at both caravan companies was always so dirty and dusty. I was never warned about the dangers of working so closely to asbestos or given a mask or any other protective equipment to wear.

“I hope my ex colleagues come forward with information about how asbestos was used at Astral and ABI, and in particular to confirm my recollection of how the sheets of asbestos were used, so my legal team can help me get the answers I deserve before it’s too late.”

Anyone with information about the working conditions at Astral Caravans or ABI Caravans, should contact Nicola Handley at Irwin Mitchell’s Leeds office on 0113 220 6233 or email nicola.handley@irwinmitchell.com.

If you or a loved one has been affected by an asbestos related illness, our solicitors can help you to claim compensation. See our Asbestos Claims page for more information.