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Sick demolition man calls for ex-colleagues’ support

3 Jun 13 A former plant operator suffering from an incurable asbestos-related disease is appealing for former colleagues to help in his legal battle.

His lawyers are looking for information about the working practices at his former employer, Gomersall Demolition in Bradford.

Kenneth Kell, from Allerton in Bradford, was diagnosed with pleural thickening, which is linked to asbestos exposure and causes the lining of the lungs to thicken resulting in serious breathing difficulties, in 2011.

The 52-year-old regularly worked as a machine operator and driver for Gomersall Demolition between 1979 and 1982. He recalls regularly coming into contact with asbestos dust while working for the company, knocking down various mills, garages and factories throughout West Yorkshire, including a Harvesters restaurant in Bradford. 

Mr Kell has now instructed specialist industrial disease lawyers at Irwin Mitchell and together they are appealing for former colleagues to come forward with information about the working conditions at Gomersall Demolition and key information about the firm’s insurance company.

Nicola Handley, an industrial disease expert from Irwin Mitchell’s Leeds office, said: “Pleural thickening is a serious illness which can be very distressing for victims like Kenny and their families. More than 2,000 people die from asbestos-related illnesses every year despite the fact employers knew how dangerous it was.

“Kenny wasn’t given any protective clothing or warned about the dangers of working with asbestos during his career.  It is awful that he is now ill simply because he went to work every day.  Kenny was aware of the fact that demolition work could be dangerous, particularly as two of his former colleagues have died following crushing accidents on site.  However, he was never made aware of the dangers of the deadly asbestos dust. 

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“We hope to speak to as many of his ex colleagues from Gomersall Demolition as possible, particularly if they know information about who provided the firm with employer’s liability insurance cover, so we can get Kenny the justice he deserves.”

Mr Kell said: “My job at Gomersall Demolition involved driving heavy construction vehicles, which had a pulveriser or a breaker on the end to demolish the old factories, mills and garages we worked on.

“Most of the time I carried out my work outside of the factories or mills we were demolishing but sometimes I had to drive into the premises and work from the inside, which created an even dustier environment. I regularly used the machines to break up large asbestos sheets before they were disposed off in skips.

“It was incredibly dirty and dusty work and I got covered in dust every day even though I was sat in my cabin. I couldn’t help but breathe it in, particularly when it was warm when I left the windows of my cabin open.  I was never warned about how dangerous asbestos could be for my health or given a mask to wear to protect me from the worst of it.

“It’s absolutely devastating to think that I could be suffering from this terrible illness simply because I went to work every day all those years ago. I hope my ex work mates will come forward with information about the working conditions I endured and who the firm’s insurance company is so that I can get answers to the many questions I have and get the justice I deserve before it’s too late.”

Anyone with information about the working conditions at Gomersall Demolition, or the company’s insurers, is asked to contact Nicola Handley at Irwin Mitchell’s Leeds office on 0113 220 6233 or email nicola.handley@irwinmitchell.com.

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