Dorset man exposed to asbestos urgently seeks help

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Dorset man exposed to asbestos urgently seeks help

4th May 2012

A Dorset man who developed an asbestos-related lung condition as a result of work he did more than 20 years ago has appealed to former colleagues to come forward and help in his fight for justice.

Francis Charles, 73, suffers from Diffuse Pleural Thickening, a debilitating lung condition that leads to breathlessness. Caused by the inhalation of asbestos fibres, the illness results in a reduction in lung capacity as well as scarring and thickening of the delicate membrane surrounding the lungs.

“I was exposed to asbestos during my time working as an assistant copper fitter for R Osborne Ltd, in Poole,” said Mr Charles, of Blythe Road, Wimborne. “They used to manufacture and repair induction coils, and I worked there from 1989 until 1991, when they were taken over by another firm, Inductoheat Banyard Ltd.

“I used to repair and strip the material from old induction coils. Most of my work involved drilling and cutting asbestos cement, ceramic glass and other heatproof products which contained asbestos,” he said. “I used to cut insulation rings from asbestos sheets and I remember the huge amount of dust created by that.”

Mr Charles was diagnosed with Diffuse Pleural Thickening in August 2010, and immediately knew it was as a result of his work with R Osborne Ltd. “There was always so much asbestos dust just hanging in the air around our workspace - it was impossible to avoid breathing it in,” he said. “We worked in a small industrial warehouse and the air in that place was disgusting. Many of us complained but we were only ever given basic face masks which were completely inadequate. It was a disgrace.”

Specialist industrial disease solicitor Nick Greaves, of Fentons Solicitors LLP, is now hoping former colleagues of Mr Charles will be able to offer information and confirm the details of his case in order to help in his fight for justice.

“Francis can recall how the walls and roof in the factory - which were partially made of asbestos - were left unpainted,” said Mr Greaves. “This meant that anyone brushing past them would release asbestos fibres into the air for staff to inhale. He also remembers how there were great piles of white asbestos dust all over the place and how it used to get everywhere.

“This was the type of daily environment Francis was obliged to work in,” said Mr Greaves. “He was so concerned with the general health and safety of the place that he had the foresight to make a record of his employer’s insurer for future reference.

“Since working for R Osborne, which was based in Balena Close in Poole, Francis’ breathing has never been right,” said Mr Greaves. “After repeatedly visiting his GP to discuss the trouble he was having with breathing, he eventually had an x-ray in July 2010 and was diagnosed with Diffuse Pleural Thickening the following month.

"It can take many years after someone has been exposed to asbestos before any related diseases become apparent,” said Mr Greaves. “This can make finding witnesses and information in regard to previous employers incredibly difficult. Francis now urgently needs anyone who worked at R Osborne Ltd between 1989 and 1991 - before it was taken over by Inductoheat Banyard Ltd - to come forward and confirm his exposure to asbestos.

“All he did was work diligently in an environment that clearly was harmful to his health,” he said. “Unless we can prove that Francis was exposed to asbestos during his time with the company, he may go uncompensated for the fact that he has developed this illness as a direct result."

Can you help? If you remember working alongside Francis Charles, if you worked for R Osborne, in Balena Close between 1989 and 1991, or if you think you can help in any way, please contact Nick Greaves on 0207 092 2833 or e-mail nick.greaves@fentons.co.uk