Posted: Wed 25th Oct 2017

Court sets deadline for former British Steel workers suffering from respiratory diseases to join legal action group

News and Info from Deeside, Flintshire, North Wales
This article is old - Published: Wednesday, Oct 25th, 2017

Former British Steel workers suffering from life-limiting and debilitating respiratory diseases which are alleged to have been caused by exposure to harmful fumes while working at coking plants have been set a date by the High Court to make a claim.

Former Shotton Steelworkers are among a group of 200 who have had their application for a Group Litigation Order (GLO) approved by the High Court.

Hundreds of workers who worked as coke oven operators in the 1950s and 1980s went on to develop chronic respiratory diseases such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, chronic bronchitis, asthma and lung cancer some have suffered squamous cell skin cancer.

Former workers and their families have been given until 23 February 2018 to register to join the group taking legal action against the company.

The deadline, which was set by the High Court last week and follows the approval of a group litigation order (GLO) earlier in January.

The GLO was applied for after law 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.

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.

Since the High Court gave approval for the group claim in January 2017, more than 80 former workers in Wales have come forward to potentially join the group action, putting the total number of applicants in Wales at over 200.

Lawyers are urging people affected to contact them before the deadline to make sure they don’t miss out on access to justice.

After this date, people won’t be able to bring a claim as part of the group action.

High Court decision has helped to raise awareness.

Kathryn Singh, industrial disease specialist at Cardiff based law firm Hugh James which is handling cases in Wales, said:

“The approval of the Group Litigation Order in January 2017 was a further important step in achieving justice for former British Steelworkers.

The High Court decision helped to raise awareness of the problem of coke oven-related illnesses, and as a result many more former workers in Wales have come forward to pursue compensation for the devastating illnesses they have suffered.

There are undoubtedly more victims out there, including those who may now have moved to other parts of Wales from the areas where they used to work. It is important that people are aware that claims can also be investigated on behalf of the estate of former deceased workers.”

Back in January, a Tata Steel spokesman said:

“These claims arise from alleged exposure to dust and fumes during the course of employment mainly between the 1950s and 1980s at various coke ovens throughout England, Wales and Scotland.”

Lawyers are urging anyone affected to contact them urgently as the deadline draws near – www.hughjames.com

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