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Court Deadline Approaching For Former British Steel Workers To Join Group Litigation

Law Firm Sees Significant Rise In Enquiries From Former Workers At Ravenscraig Coke Works


James Clarke, Press Officer | +44 (0)161 838 3169

Former British Steel workers suffering from life-limiting and debilitating respiratory diseases, including chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, chronic bronchitis, temporary exacerbation of asthma, and lung cancer, or squamous cell skin cancer have until 23rd February, 2018 to register to join the group taking legal action against the company.

The group action comes after hundreds developed these conditions which are likely to have been caused by exposure to harmful fumes while working at coking plants in the immediate vicinity of the coke ovens.

The deadline, which was set by the High Court in October, follows its approval of a group litigation order (GLO) in January 2017, which was presented by specialist industrial disease lawyers from Hugh James, based in Cardiff, and Irwin Mitchell. The GLO was applied for after these firms were approached by more than 340 former coke oven workers suffering health problems related to their employment years ago. A large proportion of these, over 50%, lived in Wales.

The law firm are keen for people affected to contact them before the deadline on to make sure they don’t miss out on access to justice. After this date, people won’t be able to take action.

Since the deadline was set, Irwin Mitchell has seen an increase in enquiries from those who worked at Ravenscraig Coke Works, Motherwell, North Lanarkshire.

The son of a former British Steel Coke worker is part of the group action to try and ensure he, like the other victims involved, get justice and answers for why they, or their relatives, became ill.

Hugh Kennedy worked at Ravenscraig Coke Works for 25 years as a Guide Man, Heater Man and then Plant Supervisor between 1957 and 1982. His work involved him being based around the ovens, which was a very hot, fumy and dusty environment.

Hugh’s son, 58-year-old Alexander Kennedy, said: “It was absolutely heart-breaking to watch dad suffer so much from his symptoms, especially after he had lost mum. To find out his illness was caused by the fumes he was exposed to at work, due to the lack of protection put in place by British Steel, made us all very angry.

“Hopefully now the legal action will provide all the victims and their families the justice we deserve and I hope all those affected by similar circumstances to dad will seek out the advice of specialists as there is help and support out there for them.”

Insurers for British Steel have already admitted it was in breach of its duty owed to its employees from 1947 until appropriate respiratory protection was provided to the workforce.

Former workers at sites in Wales, Scotland, the North East, Yorkshire and Derbyshire have all come forward to join the claim.  Hugh James was contacted by former workers who worked at sites including East Moors, Ebbw Vale, Llanwern, Port Talbot and Shotton.

Roger Maddocks, a Partner and expert industrial disease lawyer at Irwin Mitchell, said: 

Expert Opinion
“The workers we represent, through no fault of their own, developed serious, and in some cases fatal, respiratory illnesses and lung cancers causing them unnecessary pain and suffering when they should be enjoying their later life with their families.

“Nothing can turn back the clock but this legal action will hopefully provide them with the help, support and treatments needed to make dealing with their illness more comfortable.

“With the deadline quickly approaching, we would urge anyone else who feels they were affected by the working conditions at British Steel to come forward so that they too can join the group action and ensure they do not miss out on the justice they deserve.”
Roger Maddocks, Partner

Anyone who believes they were affected by the working conditions at British Steel is asked to contact Amber Price at Irwin Mitchell on 0191 279 0111 or email Amber.Price@IrwinMitchell.com

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