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Former Chemical Plant Worker Appeals to Work Mates for help following Mesothelioma Diagnosis

Specialist Industrial Disease Lawyers helping victim to find answers


A former draughtsman who has been diagnosed with the terminal asbestos-related cancer mesothelioma is appealing to his former work mates to come forward and help with an investigation as he begins his battle for justice.

Tom Barnes, 73, was devastated when he was diagnosed with mesothelioma - a cancer of the lining of the lungs caused by exposure to asbestos dust and fibres - in July 2014.

The widower and father-of-four, has now asked expert industrial illness lawyers at Irwin Mitchell’s Manchester office to investigate his exposure to asbestos and find out if steps could have been taken to prevent his cancer.

Mr Barnes is seeking justice and a settlement that he will use to pay for the care and support he will need as his condition worsens, as well as securing the financial future of his family.

He believes he was exposed to asbestos dust and fibres throughout his employment at William Blythe, a chemical manufacturing company based in Church, near Accrington, Lancashire where he worked between 1956 and 1965.

At work he had to cut and handle asbestos rope in order to seal joints on pipe work and pumps. Handling and cutting the material was dusty work and he regularly inhaled and ingested asbestos dust as a result. 

Mr Barnes said asbestos was treated casually at the chemical manufacturing plant and was not treated any differently to other materials. He said he was never warned of the dangers of working with the hazardous material.

Charlotte Hobday, an expert industrial disease lawyer at Irwin Mitchell’s Manchester office, said: “Mesothelioma is a very aggressive form of cancer and causes significant suffering and distress for victims like Tom. Very sadly, this type of cancer does not respond well to treatment. Tom and his children are devastated by this diagnosis and want to see justice done.

“The dangers of asbestos have been known since the turn of the century. Employers should have taken measures to reduce the likelihood of workers coming into contact with the material. They should have provided protective clothing especially respirators.

“There are so many people suffering from asbestos-related diseases now as a result of the failings of their employers years ago- it is a scandal.

“We are asking Tom’s former colleagues to come forward and provide information about the working conditions at William Blythe and asbestos there. We are looking to contact people who worked there in the 1950s and 1960s in the chemical plant, particularly anyone who remembers lagged pipework or anyone from the maintenance team”

Tom, who lives in Bacup, said: “This diagnosis was a complete shock to me. I’m extremely angry and upset that I will be denied the pleasures I was looking forward to enjoying following my retirement. I want to raise awareness about the dangers of asbestos so that no-one else goes through this.”

“I just hope that any of my former work mates from William Blythe come forward as any information, no matter how small, could prove vital in my battle for justice.”

Anyone who thinks they may be able to help is asked to contact Charlotte Hobday at Irwin Mitchell Solicitors on 0161 838 2071 or email charlotte.hobday@irwinmitchell.com.

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