Former joiner in asbestosis appeal

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Former joiner in asbestosis appeal

10th November 2011

An Oldham pensioner who was exposed to asbestos almost 50 years ago is appealing to former colleagues to come forward and help in his fight for justice.

Ken Partridge, of Ripponden Road, has developed the debilitating lung condition asbestosis – where inhaled asbestos dust damages the inner lung – because of work he carried out at a mill in the 1960s. Now the former joiner, 82, is hoping that his former colleagues and people who worked at the mill at the time will be able to help in his battle for compensation.

“I worked for Newroyd Mills from 1963 to 1965,” said Mr Partridge, who had trained as a joiner following his service in the Army at the end of the 1940s. “I distinctly remember a huge refurbishment job we did at the mill, where we fitted a whole new maple floor in the factory. We also carried out work in the basement at the same time, where I was part of the crew who constructed new shuttering for the boiler house.

“Because that job was part of a larger refurbishment, the boiler and pipe work was being repaired or replaced, so the team doing that stripped off all the asbestos lagging,” he said. “Although I wasn’t working directly with them, I was working right next to them. The air was thick with asbestos dust, but we had no breathing protection. Of course, back in those days we didn’t know just how dangerous asbestos was.”

Mr Partridge, who lost his wife in March 2009, had no idea the work that he’d carried out back then would lead to his developing asbestosis. “It started with what I thought was a chest infection about three years ago,” said Mr Partridge, who has two grown-up children. “I had a persistent cough, and after my GP referred me for a chest x-ray they told me I had developed pleural plaques – a scarring on the lung which indicates exposure to asbestos fibres – and asbestosis.”

Lesley Mynett, an industrial disease specialist with Fentons Solicitors LLP, said that asbestosis is only caused by exposure to substantial amounts of asbestos.

“The lung consists of millions of tiny pockets where oxygen and carbon dioxide are transferred to and from the blood,” she said. “Inhaled asbestos dust that reaches these pockets – called alveoli - can lead to damage that affects the lung’s capacity to oxygenate the blood. This in turn leads to a shortness of breath, which forces the heart to work harder to compensate and which can often lead to heart failure.

“In Mr Partridge’s case, he already suffers from shortness of breath and particularly struggles to walk up any incline or upstairs,” said Miss Mynett, an associate with the firm. “He is on daily medication, but his condition is only likely to deteriorate and there is no cure.

“Mr Partridge worked diligently throughout his life, and he has developed this illness through no fault of his own,” she said. “If we are to secure him the compensation to which he is entitled, we urgently need his former colleagues – or anyone who worked at the mill during the mid 1960s – to come forward and confirm the fact that asbestos was prevalent in the basement boiler room.”

Can you help?
If you remember working alongside Ken Partridge at Newroyds Mill, or if you worked there between 1963 and 1965, please contact Lesley Mynett on 0161 238 6417 or e-mail lesley.mynett@fentons.co.uk. All information will be treated in the strictest confidence, and any detail could be hugely important to this case.