Can Burnley’s retired workers help an asbestos cancer sufferer?

Posted: 25th Mar 19 2:59 PM

Mrs Black has asbestos-related mesotheliomaA grandmother of five is asking for help from Burnley’s retired workforce after she was diagnosed with a terminal lung cancer caused by past exposure to asbestos dust and fibres.

Elizabeth Black, aged 70, has been diagnosed with mesothelioma, a form of terminal lung cancer caused by breathing in asbestos.

With the help of Birchall Blackburn Law, Mrs Black is making an industrial disease compensation claim to secure justice and her healthcare needs.

She was exposed to asbestos while working for a number of Burnley firms during the 1960s. To make a civil claim she needs the help of anyone who worked for those same companies.

Mrs Black worked for John Wallace printing, previously Veevers & Hensman, on Parliament Street from 1966 to 1968 as a receptionist. She was employed as a post girl at Joseph Lucas between 1965 and 1966 at its Wood Top and Hargher Clough factories. And from 1967 to 1968 she was a receptionist for Gretna Laboratories on Rosendale Road. In her role for all of these companies she delivered mail and messages daily across the factory premises and would have been exposed to asbestos.

Mr Black unwittingly exposed his wife to asbestosMrs Black was also exposed to asbestos dust from her husband’s work clothes. Russell Black worked for Michelin Tyres in Burnley during the early 1970s. He was a controller in the vulcanisation area and assisted maintenance gangs during factory shutdown periods as a cleaner. Mrs Black will have inhaled asbestos dust from Mr Black’s overalls simply by being close to him when he came home or shaking out and washing his work clothes.

Mrs Black, a mother of three children, says: “I have not felt well since about 2016 onwards. I noticed that I was suffering with shortness of breath. I thought high blood pressure and asthma was causing my breathlessness; it was a terrible shock to be told it was actually asbestos dust and fibres.

“Now I suffer from severe shortness of breath. If I walk anywhere I quickly tire and become breathless. I am able to manage stairs, but I have to do so in my own time using the hand rails to steady myself.

“Since the onset of my shortness of breath my mood has been low and both I and my family have found my diagnosis difficult to come to terms with. Should there be any treatment available for my condition then I would want to have this. I want as much time with my family as possible.”

Victoria Roberts, an asbestos-disease specialist solicitor with Birchall Blackburn Law, says: “Can you help Elizabeth and her family? We need your memories. Did you work for John Wallace printing, previously Veevers & Hensman, or Joseph Lucas in the Wood Top and Hargher Clough factories, or Gretna Laboratories? What were your working conditions like? Where did you see asbestos used? Were you provided with breathing masks? Did you have to disturb the asbestos to do your job?

“We would also like to trace any former maintenance staff from Michelin Tyres in Burnley who might be able to confirm the nature of the maintenance work Elizabeth’s husband, Russell, undertook and the products used.

“Mesothelioma takes 10 to 50 years to develop in the lungs after exposure to asbestos airborne fibres. After such a long time it’s difficult to find out where and when the asbestos exposure happened, which is why we need Burnley’s retired workers to help? If we can’t uncover those memories then there is a real danger of injustice for Elizabeth and her family, devastated by the legacy of asbestos.”

Elizabeth Black has been diagnosed with mesothelioma

The Department of Work and Pensions says that 53,000 people will eventually die from mesothelioma between 2013 and 2037 in the UK. According to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), more than 2,500 people a year die from mesothelioma.

Anyone who knows about the presence of asbestos at John Wallace printing, previously Veevers & Hensman, Joseph Lucas in the Wood Top and Hargher Clough factories, Gretna Laboratories or Michelin Tyres in Burnley during the 1960s and 1970s, please call Victoria Roberts from Birchall Blackburn Law on 01244 688 763 or email enquiries@birchallblackburn.co.uk. Your details will remain confidential.